Saturday, June 15, 2013
Edinburgh: Heights and Highlights
I had ridden a train from London north to Scotland’s capital city; I’d been reading for some years about the glorious madness of the Edinburgh Festival that commandeers the whole of the city and nearby surrounds every August for a month of Music and the Arts.
Each day for 18 hours or more, amateur and professional performers--actors and orchestras, buskers and ballerinas, jugglers and jazzmen, painters and poets, string quartets and one-person shows, magicians and filmmakers and maddening mimes-- take over the parks and basements, the alleyways and streetcorners and every possible regular venue, whether theatre or concert hall, dance studio or music room,
And I did. That exhilarating, exhausting fortnight--plus two subsequent August weeks when I flew back for more--gave me scores of blurry scenes and forgettable brief entertainments (main Festival, Fringe, and beyond the Fringe alike); both personal embarrassments (like wooing a sweet schoolteacher and then losing her when I let the local lads buy me too many single-malt Scotches) and small triumphs (climbing to the top of the high hill called "Arthur’s Seat" just in time to see the dank clouds part and a liquid, angled-light sunset scald the crags and roofs and stones of grey “Auld Reekie” Edinburgh to molten gold); along with the crucial big events, of course, burnished and possibly brighter in memory and nostalgic conversation than in fact.
1) Yo Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, and a young violinist whose name I've forgotten, doin’ the dumkas for Dvorak’s danciful Dumky Trio (in E Minor, Op. 90)--ranging wide and far, from majestic to genial, from foot-stomping folk to a fire-breathing frenzy. Ma smiled and smiled, and I swear his eyes twinkled too... riding the dust-devils raised, already bestriding his silk road to worldwide acclaim.
2) A beautiful exhibition titled something like “Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Vienna Secession” opened the eyes of my soul ever after to the
3) Item, the concert by Scots socialist, staunch union man, master of finger-pick guitar, and voice-of-the-folk extraordinaire, which add up to one man only: Dick Gaughan (pronounced Gaa-kin)--brusque and rugged,
4) Great Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman staged more and more classical theatre productions as he aged, including the brilliant, partly reimagined (for example, adding several servants who’d pop in and out, silently mocking and mimicking the main characters), still heartbreaking version of August Strindberg’s
Back soon, I hope.)