Nicola Benedetti, Edinburgh International Festival Director
“The erosion of ‘community’ seemed to be something people liked to talk about when I was growing up.
Since I was a wee girl, I noticed my parents and grown relatives, and even people on TV, lamenting what we were always losing. The glue that held us together: the high street, town halls and public debate; amateur orchestras and local choirs. The list goes on and on. Then came the domination of computers and ultimately smartphones affording us the opportunity to permanently retreat into our own curated world. Now that the subtle trickiness of human interaction can be so easily avoided, what do we imagine to be the future of community?
In pulling this programme into being over the last several months, we have been deeply moved by studying individuals who have dedicated their lives to bringing communities together. Their often quiet and thankless effort and personal sacrifice has gifted so many perfect strangers the chance to feel a part of something meaningful and enduring.
These practices and behaviours have an historic and contemporary tie to the fabric of Scotland, socially and creatively. Our homegrown folk scene has been fought over and fiercely defended for centuries and, in recent history, has grown exponentially. We rightfully pride ourselves in extraordinary citizens like Nigel Osborne, John Wallace, Gillian Moore, Sir James MacMillan, Carolyn Lappin and Maggie Kinloch who have shown us all what it is possible to do for others in a lifetime.
Their stories are local but also universal. And as we celebrate what is born and cultivated in Scotland, we turn to our counterparts from all over the world.
For us, this year’s exploration is just the beginning, and this invitation is simply planting a seed.
We now invite you to peruse, debate, risk, share, listen, give and get.”