Over 2,400 Artists from 43 Countries Set for Edinburgh International Festival 2014, Opening Today

Over 2,400 Artists from 43 Countries Set for Edinburgh International Festival 2014, Opening Today

Today, at a press conference in Edinburgh, Director Jonathan Mills revealed the artists, companies and work from around the world which will fill the stages of Edinburgh's annual cultural celebration. Over 2,400 artists from 43 nations have been invited to Edinburgh to perform in the annual showcase of the world's great performing artists.

Jonathan Mills, Director of the Festival since 2007 steps down after this year's event, his 8th Festival.

Exploring the relationship between culture and conflict in the year of the centenary commemoration of the First World War, the Festival presents theatre, dance and music that looks at the work of artists who in difficult and uncertain circumstances can transcend their surroundings to create work of great beauty and optimism.

Artists and companies include Kronos Quartet, Mariinsky Opera, Stan Douglas, Luk Perceval, National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre of Great Britain, Heiner Goebbels, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Rambert, Nicola Benedetti, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lemi Ponifasio, Tom Cairns, Chekov International Theatre Festival, Czech Philharmonic, Ute Lemper, Handspring Puppet Company, Brett Bailey, Blythe Duff, Sofie Gråbøl, Paco Peña Flamenco Company, Mark Baldwin, Daniil Trifonov, Anne Sofie von Otter, Piotr Anderszewski, Oliver Knussen, Jordi Savall, Collegium Vocale Gent and many, many others.

Reflecting the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the Edinburgh International Festival in 2014 has invited artists from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to make a significant contribution to the Festival.

A season of work celebrating the 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa opens with the world premiere of a new ballet Inala. Composer Ella Spira has collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo which performs live creating the soundscape for dancers from Rambert and The Royal Ballet choreographed by Mark Baldwin.

Handspring Puppet Company is remounting the work which made its name internationally, based on the text by Alfred Jarry and the transcriptions of the South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee, Ubu and the Truth Commission. The Festival is part of an international co-producing partnership bringing this seminal work back to the stage.

South African artist Brett Bailey brings to Edinburgh his provocative and widely acclaimed live installation Exhibit B which will be staged in the grand setting of the Playfair Library Hall.

The South African season is the Festival's official contribution to the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme and is supported by the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, Glasgow Life, and Creative Scotland through National Lottery funding. The South African season is also supported by City of Edinburgh Council and the Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa.

Epic centerpieces of the Festival in 2014 come in the form of three plays on three kings of Scotland, The James Plays by Rona Munro, and Berlioz's masterpiece Les Troyens, staged in Scotland for the first time in over 40 years.

The James Plays starring James McArdle, Blythe Duff, Andrew Rothney, Jamie Sives and Sofie Gråbøl among a very strong ensemble cast directed by Laurie Sansom, mark the first co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and the National Theatre of Great Britain, and the Edinburgh International Festival. The James Plays mark Laurie Sansom's artistic debut in his new role as artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland. The trilogy is supported by The Scottish Government's Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.

Festival audiences can experience all three plays in one day or spread the works, each filled with vibrant and powerful storytelling, over three days at the Festival Theatre.

Valery Gergiev and the mass forces of the Mariinsky Opera and Orchestra gather to perform Greek director Yannis Kokkos's vast staging of Berlioz's The Trojans. This epic opera experience set the path for Wagner's subsequent Ring cycle and rich orchestration.

Also in the opera programme for Festival 2014 is Benjamin Britten's ground-breaking opera written for television, Owen Wingrave, a co-production between Aldeburgh Music and Edinburgh International Festival. A story of a young man's moral tussle with his family's military history and expectations in a production directed by Neil Bartlett and conducted by Mark Wigglesworth, this is the first time Owen Wingrave will be staged at the Festival.

The Festival's other co-productions this year include The War, the story of young artists in Paris from 1913 onwards directed by Vladimir Pankov and staged by the Chekhov International Theatre Festival; and I AM, a new production from choreographer Lemi Ponifasio and MAU, last at the Festival in 2010 with Birds with Skymirrors and Tempest: Without a Body.

Tom Cairns directs Peter Eyre in an Edinburgh International Festival production of Minetti, a Thomas Bernhard play, in association with Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and The Julliard School in New York.

The Festival has also commissioned the revival of Akram Khan's Gnosis in which he dances alongside Fang-Yi Sheu.

Festival favourites Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal returns with her distinct dance theatre Sweet Mambo and Heiner Goebbels returns directing Ensemble musicFabrik in the large scale music-theatre work Delusion of the Fury by American composer Harry Partch.

Kronos Quartet plays live for its new collaboration with composer Aleksandra Vrebalov and filmmaker Bill Morrison, Beyond Zero: 1914 - 1918 using the cinema set-up at the Festival Theatre, alongside a concert in the Usher Hall featuring Glass's recent collaboration String Quartet No 6 and music by Clint Mansell made famous through the films of Darren Aronofsky.

Flemish director Luk Perceval returns to the Festival after 10 years with his company Thalia Theater staging FRONT, bringing together actors and texts from countries on all sides of the First World War including Remarque's famous novel All Quiet on the Western Front.

Canadian Stage brings together visual artist Stan Douglas and screen writer Chris Haddock in Helen Lawrence, bringing seduction to the stage with this film noir styled thriller of the 1940s is a ground breaking multimedia production.

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich is a provocative and funny story of the elephant god's attempt to reclaim the swastika from Nazi Germany, conceived and performed by a unique ensemble of actors with disabilities, which gives voice to social and political issues relevant to everyone.

Greyfriars early evening concert series returns, opening with Messiaen's sublime Quartet for the End of Time played by a wonderful ensemble of Steven Osborne, Alban Gerhardt, Antje Weithaas and Jörg Widmann.

The world premiere of Patria brings Paco Peña Flamenco Company back to the Festival with a personal new work in music and song by Peña inspired by the poet, artist, playwright and musician Federico García Lorca.

BBC Radio 3 broadcast 14 concerts live from The Queen's Hall including Ian Bostridge, Simon Keenlyside, Anna Prohaska, Trio Verlaine and Artemis Quartet and record four in the Usher Hall for future broadcast including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Maris Jansons, and Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Gent singing Bach's Mass in B minor.

The Opening Concert brings together three works written in the years preceding the First World War by Schoenberg, Scriabin and Debussy conducted by conductor and composer Oliver Knussen and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Kirill Gerstein and Claire Booth.

The Usher Hall's 23 concert season includes Holst's The Planets, Britten's War Requiem, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Ute Lemper, the first performance of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony at the Festival, the Festival debut of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with Erin Wall and the Czech Philharmonic in two concerts the first of which stars Nicola Benedetti and the second mezzo soprano Bernarda Fink. Teatro Regio Torino, making its UK debut, performs William Tell in concert with conductor Gianandrea Noseda. Bernstein's Kaddish Symphony, dedicated to the memory of President John F Kennedy, is performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and narrated by holocaust survivor and UN Special Envoy Samuel Pisar. The Usher Hall closes with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra playing Janá?ek's Glagolitic Mass and Sandakan Threnody by outgoing Festival director and composer Jonathan Mills.