London 2012 Hands Baton to London Philharmonic Orchestra

15 Apr 2011 By IPC

The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd (LOCOG) has awarded the contract to record the 205 national anthems required for the London 2012 Games Victory Ceremonies (medal ceremonies) and Team Welcome Ceremonies to one of Britain’s leading orchestras - the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO).

The Orchestra celebrated today with an impromptu performance of an anthems medley in front of the Royal Festival Hall, conducted by Olympic triple jump gold medallist, world record holder and LOCOG Board Member Jonathan Edwards. [Images from the event available to download here by 2.00pm.]

The LPO will record the anthems at the world famous Abbey Road Studios in May 2011. Using 36 musicians, it will take 50 recording hours over 6 days with final sessions taking place in September 2011.

Sebastian Coe, London 2012 Chair, said: 'The playing of anthems at Victory Ceremonies is one of the most emotive parts of any Games and it was an incredible moment for me at the Moscow and Los Angeles Games. We’re delighted to be working with the London Philharmonic Orchestra to deliver this key element of the ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.’

Watched by a worldwide audience, the Victory Ceremonies encapsulate the Olympic and Paralympic values and celebrate the spirit of friendship, fairness and inclusion amongst the competing athletes. The anthems will also be used as part of the official welcome to the Village, attended by official dignitaries and athletes from every country taking part in the Games.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has been performing at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall since it opened in 1951, becoming Resident Orchestra in 1992. It is firmly committed to the belief that its adventurous concert hall performances should challenge and provoke as well as exhilarate and enlighten, and as such should have the power to transform peoples’ attitudes and aspirations. This has led to year-on-year increases in audience numbers. The Orchestra also reaches thousands of Londoners through its rich programme of community and school-based activity in Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. Further afield it has residencies in Brighton, Eastbourne, and at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The Orchestra combines this activity with regular international tours – in 1956 it was the first British orchestra to perform in Soviet Russia, and the first into China in 1973. The same spirit of adventure impels the Orchestra today: embracing a host of different musical styles, it works with jazz, pop and world music stars such as Jarvis Cocker, KD Lang, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Ravi Shankar, A R Rahman and Ray Davies (The Kinks).

Timothy Walker, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra said: ‘The Orchestra is delighted and honoured to participate in this exciting project which gives us the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the London 2012 and Paralympic Games. We look forward to ensuring that the anthems recorded are of the highest quality and will fully match the extraordinary achievements of the world’s greatest athletes in 2012.’

The arrangements for the anthems will be made by British composer, conductor and cellist Philip Sheppard. Philip specialises in film and television soundtracks, large scale theatre and events and is a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music.

Philip Sheppard said: ‘I'm very excited about working with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a truly world class group of musicians. We'll be recording every national anthem of the world in the world famous Abbey Road Studios that have been graced by so many incredible artists, so I hope that spirit of creativity and industry accompanies us on this enormous undertaking.

‘It was a thrill to devise a new version of the UK anthem for the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony and I only hope we'll hear our own National Anthem at numerous medal ceremonies.’

LOCOG began its search in November in collaboration with official London 2012 music licensee, Universal Music Group, for an internationally renowned UK-based orchestra with proven and demonstrable experience of working on either large-scale film or television productions, and with a minimum of 30 professionally qualified and experienced musicians.