The Eurovision Song Contest winning singer, Conchita Wurst, has been forced to cancel a planned appearance at the Edinburgh International Festival after the Home Office denied visas to her Syrian co-stars.

Basalt, a trio of Syrian musicians who live in Vienna, Austria, were not allowed to travel to the UK to perform with Ms Wurst - the pop artist and drag queen portrayed by Thomas Neuwirth - for the New European Songbook event at the festival.

The event is part of the Spirit of '47 programme, which celebrates 70 years of the Edinburgh International Festival and last night the festival's director, Fergus Linehan, expressed his "awful disappointment" at the decision.

Loading article content

Basalt are three Syrian musicians who live in Austria: Amjad Khaboura on guitar, Noor Eli Khoury, the main singer, and Almonther Alshoufi on bass.

The concert is to go ahead with a recorded introduction by Basalt and Conchita, and a film of their song, and Mr Linehan said that if Basalt can be granted a visa in the near future he will try and fit them into the Festival programme.

He said the denial of a visa - on unknown grounds - is particularly "sad" as the concert is around the theme of migration and how immigration enriches culture.

Mr Linehan said: "If they do manage to get the visa, we will find a way for them to play."

A statement from the EIF said it was "very disappointed" that the visas had not been granted.

The festival is on the Home Office list of Permit Free Festivals, which the EIF applies to be part of each year.

This allows artists who require a visa to enter the UK, to apply for a standard visitor’s visa.

Basalt applied for visas to enter the UK on this basis but were unsuccessful, for reasons not disclosed.

The New European Songbook sees a selection of musicians come together to perform some new pieces of music for the first time.

The bill includes electronic music pioneer Matthew Herbert, award-winning folk musician Karine Polwart and Egyptian rock musician Ramy Essam.

They are designed to "reflect the changing face and sound of Europe, where mass migration of peoples has brought new influences, talents and styles to the continent."

Today will see the first winners of this year's prestigious Herald Angel awards, supported by the Festival Theatre, given their prizes.

Winners of an Angel include Adam Kashmiry for Adam, Clare Street for Krapp's Last Tape, Sophie Willan for Branded, Misha's Gang. and

Noisemaker for Atlantic: A Scottish Story RSNO for Die Walkure.

The Archangel goes to the "exquisitely beautiful" Gandini Juggling and a Devil prize goes to Kingdom Theatre for featuring injured dancer Sophy Dowie on crutches.