Aberdeen International Youth Festival

Aberdeen International Youth Festival
Native Australian performers at the festival

Aberdeen International Youth Festival is a leading Festival of Youth Arts, and one of Scotland's major international cultural events.

Every year Aberdeen International Youth Festival attracts over 1000 of the most talented young people in performing arts companies and music groups from across the globe. It provides a showcase for their talents and creates innovative and exciting new work by bringing them together with leading professionals and artists.

The event brings colour, spectacle and vibrant creativity to Aberdeen and the North East and has attracted talented companies from over 70 countries to Scotland. As well as the ticketed events the Festival stages a parade, open-air performances and a fringe programme in community venues.

A packed programme attracts over 30,000 people to more than seventy events throughout North East Scotland. There are concerts, dance shows and galas in major Aberdeen venues such as His Majesty's Theatre, The Music Hall and The Lemon Tree as well as smaller venues such as churches (such as Queen's Cross Church, Aberdeen) and also features a touring programme taking events to rural venues.

The AIYF programme includes symphony orchestras and steel bands, song recitals and jazz, traditional music, world music, ballet, contemporary and traditional dance. The festival also produces a critically acclaimed and radical young opera, (Opera Garden) as well as producing unique international performances developed by the participating companies working together over the course of the Festival.


Dates of the Festival

28 July - 7 August 2010
27 July - 6 August 2011
1-11 August 2012

Interesting facts

The Aberdeen International Youth Festival was formerly known as the International Festival of Youth Orchestras (IFYO) and has grown to attract the world's best youth dance, theatre, choral and music companies to the city every August.

The 2011 Festival will be the 39th since IFYO came to Aberdeen in 1973.

AIYF has welcomed over 30,000 performers to Aberdeen since inception.

Notable names to appear at the Festival include


History of the Festival

The Festival was created in the late 1960s by the late Blyth Major, Music Director of the Midland Youth Orchestra and Lionel Bryer, later Chairman of the International Youth Foundation. They conceived the idea of bringing together youth orchestras from all over the world at a festival using music as a unifying bond to promote international understanding. The first International Festival of Youth Orchestras was held in 1969 in St Moritz in Switzerland.

Invited by the British Tourist Authority, in 1973 the Festival moved to the UK and established a base both in Aberdeen and London for the following five years. Due to the superb facilities and local support in the City of Aberdeen and its University, the Festival was able to expand to incorporate all forms of dance, jazz and choral music.

Internationally renowned guest conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Carlo Maria Giulini, Walter Susskind and Leopold Stokowski, were invited to conduct the Festival Orchestra - a specially created orchestra, which was invited to appear at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and also played at the opening concert of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1978 (the first youth orchestra to appear at The Edinburgh Festival).

Due to the success and support from both the City of Aberdeen, local businesses and growing audiences, in 1979 the management decided to focus this international event entirely in Aberdeen and North East of Scotland. Nicola Wallis, who had been associated with IFYO since 1973, was appointed Director in 1980, with Roy Hendry Thomson as Marketing Director, and the name of the Festival changed to the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. Nicola Wallis ran the Festival until 2003, when she became the Chief Executive of the Voices Foundation. In 2003 the Festival established a full time office base in Aberdeen and a new Chief Executive, Stephen Stenning was appointed in May 2003. Developments during this time include the creation of Grampian Youth Orchestra. In November 2007 Stewart Aitken, formerly Artistic Director of Wigan Pier Theatre Company became the Chief Executive.

Current Festival staff

Chief Executive - Stewart Aitken
Festival Manager - Ruth Fisher
Communications and Marketing Manager - Andrew Youngson
Trad Music Project Director - David Francis
Music Director - Mark Evans
Festival Producer - Judith Stephen

Previous Festival staff

Kenn Burke (Dance Director, 1996 - 2007)
Jeroen Mourik (Assistant Producer), founder of http://www.festivalorganiser.com
Jennifer Phillips (General Manager), now General Manager at Citymoves Dance Agency
Michael Richardson (Producer, 1998 - 2007), Chief Executive/Artistic Director of Firefly Arts / freelance director
Stephen Stenning (Chief Executive 2003 - 2007), now Chief Executive of The Voices Foundation
Roy Hendry Thomson (Marketing Director, 1980 - 2005) Ben Torrie (Box Office Manager), now Artistic Director of The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen Performing Arts
Nicola Wallis (Director 1980 - 2003), now Chief Executive of The Voices Foundation

Opera Garden

Opera Garden is the Aberdeen International Youth Festival's Opera Project. Named after the world famous Aberdonian opera singer, Mary Garden, the project aspires to continue her work, providing new challenges and performances for young singers.

Conceived by Artistic Director Gidon Saks, the project brings together young singers from across the world and in three weeks they produce a dazzling full scale opera production. Since 2000, Opera Garden has staged Così fan tutte, Eugene Onegin, Don Giovanni, Carmen, The Magic Flute, Falstaff, The Turn of the Screw and Hansel and Gretel to critical acclaim. The Opera has been sponsored by Royal Dutch Shell and Robert Gordon University since inception.

"Brilliantly directed… visually stunning…absolutely thrilling… Once again the youth festival pulls off a major operatic triumph that should not be missed." The Magic Flute, Festival 2004

AIYF Dance School

The Festival's Dance Summer School has been running for 25 years. The Dance Summer School was introduced over 20 years ago and has welcomed outstanding teachers from major schools and companies worldwide including the Paris Opera Ballet School and the Kirov and Bolshoi companies. To this day the School remains an important and unique course in Scotland.

The Dance Summer School was held annually as part of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. The school offers an intensive course in dance for students aged 12-16, a performance course for advanced level students in full time training for a career in dance, a music theatre course and a 'taster day' for younger dance students.

in 2009 AIYF Dance Lab was created as a new development for the AIYF Dance Summer School. Dance Lab is an opportunity to explore dance styles in depth with guest masterclass tutors from Scotland and abroad. Each masterclass ran over two or three days and encouraged participants to extend their dance vocabulary and techniques.

Dance Lab has a strong emphasis on how the dancer creatively develops their own dance while keeping a strong technical reference point. Each day the dancers have warm up classes concentrating on technical aspects of dance and then these are developed by the different masterclass tutors through creative, improvisational and choreographic challenges. As well as classical ballet the masterclasses explore contemporary styles of dance through body contact, improvisation, contemporary jazz and hip hop.

External links

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