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Angels’ delight

The growth in Scotland’s national ballet company under the artistic direction of Ashley Page to the point where it now deserves a regular place in the programme of the Edinburgh International Festival was recognised on Saturday with the presentation of a Bank of Scotland Archangel award.

Page’s company this year revived Kenneth MacMillan’s Song Of The Earth, partnering it with a new work by Jorma Elo, completing a remarkable arc of development since it presented a Balanchine programme in 2005.

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Accepting the award, Page said: “Scottish Ballet’s inclusion in the 2005 Festival was a watershed in the company’s recent history. It is common knowledge that to be invited to appear at the Festival is a very special thing. Brian McMasters’s decision to invite us meant everything to a company that was still, at that point, needing to prove itself. Our very happy relationship with Brian’s successor, Jonathan Mills, has continued our positive association with the Festival.”

Sustained service was also recognised by the awarding of a Bank of Scotland Herald Angel to Frances Paterson, recently retired drama teacher at Holy Rood High School and a partner in the Herald’s Young Critics scheme with the EIF since its inception eight years ago.

By fortuitous coincidence, the winner of this year’s Wee Cherub award, given to the school student who wrote the best of the reviews chosen to be printed in The Herald, was – after considerable debate among the paper’s critical team – one of her pupils, Eilidh MacDonald. Eilidh had attended a performance of the seven-hour One Thousand And One Nights, directed by Tim Supple, whose ensemble was another of this week’s Angel winners.

The awards were presented by Chris Sutton, managing director of Black Horse Finance from the sponsors, and Alex Reedijk, chief executive of Scottish Opera, whose association with the Fringe dates back 20 years to his job as technical director at Assembly, and whose company extended this year’s Fringe by presenting two new shows.

One of them, The Seven Deadly Sins, earned an Angel for Kally Lloyd-Jones, artistic director of Company Chordelia, whose direction of the Brecht/Weill classic made the most of the strengths of both companies.

Playing in the pit for Scottish Ballet’s EIF appearance this year, the RSNO was led by James Clark, whose inspirational role both there and in the concert performance of Massenet’s Thais won an Angel, collected on his behalf by RSNO first violin Lorna Rough.

Chamber music fans were delighted by the performance of all Beethoven’s String Quartets at Greyfriars Kirk by the Heath Quartet. After unanimous praise from The Herald’s music critics, leader Oliver Heath collected a Bank of Scotland Herald Angel.

The awards’ regular recognition of visual art continued with the acceptance by his brother Robert of an award for David Mach’s huge Precious Light exhibition at the City Art Centre. The show, inspired by the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, continues to develop under the guidance of both artists, with the latest collage being unveiled later this month.

The year’s last Little Devil award, recognising triumph over adversity, was collected by EIF sponsorship director Christopher Wynn, on behalf of his colleague Niki Furley and the Festival Theatre’s Linda Hogg, who engineered a meal for the entire Vlaamse Opera Company after a fire at the Witchery restaurant closed the EIF’s home at The Hub.

For more on this year’s Bank of Scotland Herald Angels visit www.heraldscotland.com/ go/heraldangels

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