Edinburgh's classic offer: tickets at £5

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The Edinburgh International Festival is to stage 25 late-night concerts with cheap tickets to try to bring classical performances to the masses.

Announcing his year's programme yesterday, organisers said the one-hour concerts were designed to create a more "casual and spontaneous" approach to concert going. Tickets will be cost £5 for the concerts at the Usher Hall.

The festival's marketing director, Joanna Baker, said: "We hope the offer will attract people who perhaps don't usually come to classical music concerts. There is a perception that it's high-brow entertainment but we believe that it speaks to everyone. Try it once and you might just be hooked.

"It's also to encourage a more casual and spontaneous approach to concert going. It's a rich and diverse programme with music by Bach, Beethoven and Stravinsky."

Topping the bill at this year's festival, 55 years after its inception, is Wagner's classic opera Parsifal, conducted by Claudio Abbado. As well as international orchestras and dance troupes there is a full theatre programme, including a new play by the Scottish playwright Douglas Maxwell.

There are world premières of plays by the Scot David Harrower and the Norwegian writer Jon Fosse. Also featured will be eight concerts centred on Scottish political songs and exploring their role from the Jacobites to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Jan Fabre's production of Swan Lake is another highlight of the festival, which starts on 11August.