This year’s Edinburgh International Festival began in a style like no other in the history of an event that now has nearly 70 years to celebrate. As a way of marking the 50th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, and to make sure that Edinburgh was aware as never before that the Festival was beginning, new director Fergus Linehan commissioned The Harmonium Project, which combined the singing of the choir and the playing of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with startling visuals by 59 Productions.

As the recorded voices and instrumentalists performed American composer John Adams’s 1981 piece Harmonium, setting words by poets John Donne and Emily Dickinson, the Usher Hall became the projection screen for a visual feast of imagery that used research into the singers’ technique completed for the project at the University of Edinburgh. The spectacle was an enormous success, both artistically and in attracting a huge audience of 20,000 to a plaza created outside the hall with the closing of Lothian Road. It is therefore a very worthy winner of the first of our Herald Angel awards this year.

A remarkable piece of theatre from Complicite and its founder Simon McBurney wins another of the first Angels of 2015 after it was a highlight of the opening weekend of the Festival programme. The Encounter is inspired by Romanian writer Petru Popescu’s book Amazon Beaming and tells the story of photojournalist Loran McIntyre’s attempt to address the effects of rapacious logging on the native people of South America. With an army of collaborators, McBurney takes a headphone-wearing audience on a meditative adventure of astonishing theatricality.

Czech performance company VerTeDance have brought their show Correction to Zoo Southside, giving their seven dancers the constraining limitation of fixing their shoes to the floor. They fall and stand, push one another and help each other up in a way that is both clowning and childlike, but suggests a deeper meaning too, about the victory of the human spirit over state restrictions and the creative possibilities in seeming restrictions. Their visit to the Edinburgh Fringe wins them an Angel, at a venue that is no stranger to the awards.

That is also, of course, true of new writing theatre The Traverse, which may well have a perfect attendance record in the opening week of the Angels. This year that accolade goes to Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn for the show they have brought from Soho Theatre, Fake it ‘til you Make it. Kimmings has made a sequence of challenging and universally-resonant shows from the material of the life of herself and her family and this one focuses on herself and her partner and how they have dealt with his clinical depression. Grayburn, not previously a performer himself, joins her onstage on stage in an exploration of masculinity that audience members of both sexes are finding profoundly affecting.

The Encounter runs at the EICC to Saturday August 22, VerTeDance’s Correction is at Zoo Southside to Wednesday, and Fake it ‘til you Make it continues at the Traverse until August 30, although the run was the first show at the theatre to sell out and only returns are available.

The Herald Little Devil this week, acknowledging the truth of the adage that “the show must go on”, goes to the new Circus Hub, a new venture by the Underbelly Fringe supervenue in two tents on the Meadows. Named LaFayette and Beauty after a Victorian illusionist and his performing dog, this illusion was, alas, incomplete, when it was supposed to open at the end of last week. Inclement weather having disrupted the erection of the domes, various other technical issues dogged the set-up for a roster of international companies from Palestine, Australia, France, Belgium, Canada and the Czech Republic, and the last show, La Meute (The Wolfpack) only actually began yesterday. They’ll be hoping to pack ‘em in for the rest of their visit to make up for lost time, and as a reward for their commitment, the Circus Hub artistes and facilitators receive a Little Devil.

Since their second year in 1996, The Herald Angels have been topped off by our Archangel Award, given to someone or something responsible for a sustained contribution to Festive Edinburgh over the years. This year it was not difficult to identify the first recipient, as their 50th birthday was the celebration behind our first Angel-winner.

The Edinburgh Festival Chorus was established in 1965 by chorus master Arthur Oldham, conductor Alexander Gibson and Festival director Lord Harewood, giving a performance of Mahler’s massive “Symphony of a Thousand” in its first concert. Currently in particularly fine fettle under Herald Archangel-winning chorus master Christopher Bell, the choir also sang at this year’s Opening Concert with Donald Runnicles and the BBC SSO and last night with the RSNO and Edward Gardner. They will also appear at Usher Hall concerts with Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra on Tuesday, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen a week today, and Robin Ticciati and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on the final weekend. The Festival demands a lot of work from the only performers it has as part of its organisation all year round, and they richly deserve a Golden Jubilee Archangel.