August in Edinburgh is mayhem as over 20,000 acts compete for attention at the Fringe. And within the melee, it’s easy to forget why the Fringe even exists – as a counterpart to the Edinburgh International Festival. The Scottish capital’s annual festival, which no doubt inspired our own international festival, is in full flow – and with a week and a half to go, we pick out a few highlights for those considering venturing north:

1. Embers
With performances this bank holiday weekend only, Samuel Beckett’s 1957 radio play takes us on a journey into the haphazard world of Henry’s imagination, ‘where creative storytelling and unfinished memories both real and unreal coalesce into one’. Pan Pan Theatre’s physical staging, directed by Gavin Quinn, features a massive skull in centre stage (pictured), with stereo speakers hanging down on trestles. It promises to be a unique and possibly unnerving experience.
Sat 24 – Sun 25 Aug, Kings Theatre, 2 Leven Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9LQ, 7pm (plus 2pm Sun matinee), £10 – £20,

2. City Noir
Inspired by film noir, big-band jazz and the movies of David Lynch, this John Adams-penned work looks set to be the festival’s ‘spectacular symphonic showpiece’. With only one performance, at the grand Usher Hall, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra will deliver this study of Californian urban landscape and culture. The second half of this all-American concert will also feature the world premiere of Festival City, a brand new commission by composer and music technologist Tod Machover, who invites the concertgoers to contribute to the piece’s creation. Violinist Pinchas Zukerman opens the programme with Bruch’s First Violin Concerto and Verdi’s powerful Force of Destiny Overture.
Tue 27 Aug, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Edinburgh, EH1 2EA, 8pm, £12 – £42,

3. A tribute to Frank Zappa
Cologne’s Ensemble musicFabrik celebrates American music maverick Frank Zappa, with a concert featuring eight of his works, including the vibrant funk of Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? and the atmospheric t’Mershi Duween. They’ll also perform music by some of Zappa’s inspirations and contemporaries, including Edgard Varèse and John Cage – whose Credo in Us features percussion ensemble with turntable and radioŸreceiver.
Wed 28 Aug, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Edinburgh, EH1 2EA, 8pm, £12 – £34,

EIF also features several free, unticketed exhibitions and events throughout the month. The festival runs until Sun 1 Sep – visit for more information.

Photo: Ros Kavanagh

Thu 22 Aug - Sun 1 Sep
Chris Horkan
Published on:
Thu 22 Aug 2013