Edinburgh International Festival

Bloom, St Andrew Square

Keith Bruce

five stars

THE THIRD of the free events that have signalled the start of director Fergus Linehan's Festival programmes is perhaps the most easily read, and specifically located, that audio-visual spectacle-creators 59 Productions have made. The fifteen minute show, projected onto the buildings on three sides of the architectural jumble that now sits at one end of the main boulevard of the New Town, begins by recalling the air-raids of the Second World War, and recycles words broadcast 70 years ago that stated the purpose of the very first Festivals, with the names of its stars – Kathleen Ferrier, the Vienna Phil – joining newspaper headlines on the facades.

But creative director Leo Warner and soundtrack composer Nick Powell have not restricted themselves to the 70th birthday of the EIF alone in their images and music: Bloom is about what the inspiration of the Festival has brought to the city as a destination for the world, in its flowering of a year-round calendar of events. There is the count-down on cinema reel for the film festival, flyers and star-ratings for the Fringe, some decidedly modernist (rather than trad) jazz daddy-o, and Kraftwerky bleeps and bubbles for the science festival, which, unlike the others, has never occupied an August time-slot.

The floral theme returns throughout, but seems particularly apt linked to the flicking pages of the book festival, currently setting up in the garden at the other end of George Street. Alongside the planes and boats and trains that bring the visitors, some of the most memorable images are inspired by the Tattoo, which added its own fireworks to proceedings with uncanny military precision during Bloom's second run-through on Friday evening.

Sponsored by Standard Life