Yesterday’s Herald Angels awards at the home of our partner, the city’s Festival Theatre, recognised the roots of the city’s Festivals as well as their compelling immediacy.

As the cast of the Traverse Theatre The Patient Gloria sped across town in a taxi to join our company after the curtain came down on their Sunday morning performance, the chief executive of The Sixteen was accepting this week’s Archangel award on behalf of the choir’s artistic director Harry Christophers.

Marie-Sophie Willis spoke pertinently of how the singers’ contribution to the previous evening’s premiere of Sir James MacMillan’s Fifth Symphony had related directly to the founding principles of the Edinburgh International Festival as a celebration of the human spirit. Not only has The Sixteen been an essential part of this year’s programme, its association with the Festival stretches back a decade and with the musical life of Scotland far beyond the capital city.

Gina Moxley’s show The Patient Gloria, produced with Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and Pan Pan Theatre Company, has been one of the hot tickets of this year’s Fringe programme and the performers received their Herald Angel award hot-foot from their Sunday show from fellow Irish-person Camille O’Sullivan.

She is in the middle of a run of shows at the Pleasance, singing the songbook of Nick Cave with a command of cabaret performance that has made her a regular Fringe favourite.


O’Sullivan also presented an Angel to guitarist Nick Harper, who stopped by en route to a train south after the Jazz Bar run of his show 58 Fordwych Road which celebrates his upbringing when 1960s virtuosi Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Davey Graham would regularly drop by to see his father Roy Harper, and Paul Simon and Sandy Denny were also visitors. He opened our ceremony with an equally virtuosic version of Graham’s Anji.

The Festival’s Head of Music Andrew Moore collected an Angel on behalf of pianist Angela Hewitt for her two-night performance of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, part of her epic Bach Odyssey that had taken her to Manchester to play the composer’s Goldberg Variations on Saturday night.

He delivered her thanks, which cited her Scottish heritage.

“My Scottish grandparents on my mother’s side (they came from the Borders—Hawick and Galashiels) would be so happy to know about this. I was a champion Highland Dancer when I was a kid (I still have my kilt in the Ancient Hunting McLeod tartan!), and Scotland has always had a special place in my heart.”

Angel awards also went to previous winners 1927 for Roots, which the inventive company is performing at the Church Hill Theatre as part of the Festival’s You Are Here season, and to comedian Jonny Pelham, whose Off Limits show at Just the Tonic makes hilarity of coming to terms with childhood abuse.

The week’s Little Devil, recognising the ethos of “the show must go on” was accepted by Robert Wilson of art venue Jupiter Artland on behalf of the Trisha Brown dancers, whose outdoor performances there went ahead in defiance of the terrible weather.