EDINBURGH, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The 2014 Edinburgh International Festival started on Friday night with an opening concert by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at Usher Hall.
Addressing the 2,200-strong audience, Jonathan Mills, outgoing Edinburgh International Festival Director, said "Presented almost exactly 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, Festival 2014 is a compelling exploration of the impact of history, most especially during periods of warfare and unrest, and the immense influence exerted by a powerful few on issues of national identity, the forging of our cultures, and the lives of people throughout the world."
The words and songs, gestures and images, offer the truest glimpse of optimism and transcendence, he noted, adding that "in a year in which Scotland is proud to host the Commonwealth Games, the Festival also features artists and work from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and especially South Africa".
Mills also mentioned the world premiere on Saturday of The War, a co-production between the Chekhov International Theatre Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival.
Ending his eight-year tenure next month, the Australian arts impresario is to be succeeded by Irishman Fergus Linehan, who was appointed in April 2013 as Mills' replacement and becomes Festival Director and Chief Executive of the Festival full time from Oct. 1, 2014.
The two hour and a half opening concert included the performance of Five Pieces for Orchestra Op 16, Prometheus, the Poem of Fire and Le Martyrre de Saint Sebastien.
Founded in 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival has been continually ranked as one of the most important cultural celebrations in the world, with annual programs featuring classical music, opera, theatre and dance of the highest possible standard.
The Festival ends on Aug. 31 with a fireworks concert by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at Princes Street Gardens at the city center.