Aref Ghorbani posing in front of a wooden bookcase. He has dark hair and facial hair, is wearing a floral shirt and is sitting on a wooden chair. He is holding a setar, a small and long string instrument made from wood.


Aref Ghorbani Claricia Parinussa Kruithof Farah Saleh Francisco Llinas Casas Leena Nammari Paria Moazemi Goodarzi Zozan Yasar

image: Aref Ghorbani | Vocal | Refuge | Edinburgh International Festival

Refuge was a season of contemporary theatre, dance, visual art, film and conversation created in collaboration with Edinburgh International Festival to explore themes of refugeehood, migration, identity and inclusion.

Presented seventy-five years after Rudolf Bing, himself a refugee, co-founded the Edinburgh International Festival, this season invited 85 artists from over 15 countries to reflect upon the profound impact that migration has had on arts and culture in Scotland and around the world.

Our Chief Executive Sabir Zazai said: “We’re honoured to collaborate with Edinburgh International Festival and mark this very special anniversary year. Had Rudolph Bing not sought and been granted refugee protection here 75 years ago, this world class festival may not exist. The cultural fabric of Scotland would be very different. We are in awe of his legacy, and of the exceptional artists performing as part of Refuge.”

The International Festival’s Refuge programme included the world premiere of A Wee Journey, a choreographed musical journey about migration created by choreographer Farah Saleh and composer Oğuz Kaplangi. Akeim Toussaint Buck’s Windows of Displacement, a dance theatre piece drawing on his own journey of migration from Jamaica to the UK, and Wang Ramirez’s dance show for young audiences We Are Monchichi explored cultural stereotypes and identities.

Zimbabwean writer, performer and curator mandla rae asked powerful questions about belonging, trauma and forgiveness in as british as a watermelon, while Detention Dialogues, from ice&fire Actors for Human Rights and Scottish Detainee Visitors, featured a series of verbatim scripts featuring the voices of refugees from different countries.

Artists Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse hosted Oh Europa, a deep listening experience featuring love songs recorded across Europe by over a thousand voices, in 49 different languages, and invited Festival visitors to contribute their own songs to the project on 23 and 24 August in St Andrew’s Square.

Amber was an interactive performance documenting artists Paria Moazemi Goodarzi and Francisco Llinas Casas and their encounters on a 23-mile walk from Dungavel Detention Centre to the Home Office in Glasgow. Aref Ghorbani interspersed Persian classical and folk music with conversation around music censorship in Vocal, while artist Leena Nammari’s visual art installation It Will Live was inspired by a house in Ramallah that she has photographed for 35 years.

The programme was complemented by a series of online conversations addressing internationalism, climate change, belonging, and a podcast series, I Am An Immigrant, which launched on 20 June 2022 for World Refugee Day.

About Edinburgh International Festival
Every August, the International Festival brings world-class music, opera, dance and theatre performances to Edinburgh.

Created in 1947 following WWII, the festival inspired artists and audiences to heal through international cultural collaboration. In 2022 the International Festival celebrated 75 years of bringing world cultures together and took place from 5-28 August 2022.

For more information visit

The Refuge series was held at The Studio, supported by British Council, Edinburgh Futures Institute at the University of Edinburgh and Claire and Mark Urquhart. Made possible through the PLACE Programme. In collaboration with Scottish Refugee Council.