London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Ceremonies
THE LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA HITS THE HIGH NOTES AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE OLYMPICS WITH 80 YOUNG MUSICIANS FROM EAST LONDON AND FRANÇOIS-XAVIER ROTH, AND A SURPRISE COMIC ROUTINE WITH ROWAN ATKINSON AND SIR SIMON RATTLE
The London Symphony Orchestra performed for the world audience at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, live in the Olympic Stadium on 27 July. François-Xavier Roth conducted the LSO with 80 young musicians from East London aged 7–17 who played an arrangement of Elgar’s Nimrod by Gareth Glyn, followed by And I Will Kiss, a new piece by Rick Smith, Music Director of the Opening Ceremony.
The 80 young musicians, who played with 20 LSO members, are participants in LSO On Track, a major project of the award-winning LSO Discovery education and community programme, which François-Xavier Roth has been involved in from its early days. LSO On Track was launched in 2008 in partnership with the Music Services of the ten East London boroughs – Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Greenwich, Hackney, Havering, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest. The programme provides a platform for young musicians from absolute beginners to professionals to develop their instrumental skills and play side-by-side. LSO On Track brings together the strengths of the music services in reaching a wide range of young people, with the world class performance values of an international symphony orchestra and enables musicians at every point on the musical journey to enjoy the thrill of performing live with others. To date, over 14,000 young people have taken part in the programme. The Olympics Opening Ceremony was a once in a lifetime opportunity for these young musicians to share their achievements with the world.
Sir Simon Rattle later took to the podium and conducted the LSO in Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire, in an arrangement by Howard Goodall. The really entertaining surprise of the evening was a comic routine featuring none other than Rowan Atkinson in the Orchestra!
Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the LSO:
'The LSO set up LSO On Track in 2008 as a response in music to what the Olympics were aiming to do in sport: to enable young people of talent to fulfil their potential and reach the top, whatever their background. Working with thousands of young people from the surrounding boroughs of the London Olympics, we’re thrilled that 80 of them performed alongside LSO musicians and François-Xavier Roth. It is also extremely special for the LSO to have appeared with Sir Simon Rattle in the Opening Ceremony.'
The LSO recorded the music for the Opening Ceremony in advance for the practicality of ensuring every note would be heard from the open Stadium, and on the night the entire Orchestra played live to track.
The LSO has also recorded the core orchestral soundtrack for the Olympic and Paralympic Closing Ceremonies. The Closing Ceremony will be a unique promotion of great British popular music entitled 'A Symphony of British Music'.
Lord Coe, London 2012 Chair has said 'The London 2012 Ceremonies are an opportunity to promote the UK’s world leading culture and creative industries to over 4 billion people around the world.'
Notes to editors:
François-Xavier Roth is one of the most charismatic and enterprising conductors of his generation. He won the Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition in 2000, and in 2003 he founded Les Siècles, a ground-breaking orchestra which performs innovative programmes using both period and modern instruments. He is Principal Conductor of the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden and Freiburg, regularly conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and is committed to many elements of LSO Discovery including new composer schemes.
Sir Simon Rattle is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He has conducted the LSO on many occasions, most recently on the eve of the Olympics in the Barbican Hall with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
> Watch the LSO On Track group playing Elgar's Nimrod from Enigma Variations on BBC iPlayer (UK only, 1hr 55mins from start)
> Watch the LSO perform Chariots of Fire with Rowan Atkinson on BBC iPlayer (UK only, 47mins from start)