British music ‘mashup’ at Olympic closing ceremony
Britain may not dominate the podium at the 2012 Olympics, but it
will rule the closing ceremony – an all-British spectacular
celebrating the country’s music ”from Elgar to Adele.”
Organizers announced Thursday that the ceremony theme will be
”A Symphony of British Music,” and will include established and
up-and-coming artists performing a jukebox-full of iconic British
”It is, in a sense, the soundtrack of our lives,” said film
and theater director Stephen Daldry, executive producer of the
Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies.
The ceremony’s artistic director, Kim Gavin, said the Aug. 12
show would be an ”elegant mashup of British music” packed with
recognizable songs arranged in a symphonic structure.
The London Symphony Orchestra will provide musical backing for
the celebration of a century of British popular music that
stretches back to the late Edward Elgar, composer of the ”Pomp and
Circumstance Marches” and other staples of the classical
Music director David Arnold said all the music, and all the
performers, would be British.
”We go from – without saying we’ve booked anyone – Elgar to
Adele,” Arnold said.
The creative team is keeping the names of the musicians involved
under wraps, although The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and the
Spice Girls have all been suggested as possible performers.
Olympic officials did not say whether Adele, Britain’s hottest
musical export of the moment, had been asked to take part. The
singer-songwriter’s album ”21” has spent a year on the charts,
winning six Grammys earlier this month, including album of the
year. Adele also won two trophies Tuesday at the Brit music
Gavin, who has overseen tours for the band Take That and
directed London’s 2007 Princess Diana memorial concert, said the
London Olympics closing ceremony would be ”the biggest after-show
party – the show being the sport.”
His creative team is experienced at delivering spectacular
shows. Arnold’s credits include the James Bond films ”Casino
Royale” and ”Quantum of Solace” and the TV series ”Sherlock,”
while designer Es Devlin has created sets for tours by Kanye West,
Jay Z and Lady Gaga and lighting designer Patrick Woodroofe has
worked with Elton John and the Rolling Stones.
Devlin said the show, which will include 3,500 volunteer
performers and hundreds of local schoolchildren, would be a visual
extravaganza drawing on icons of British art and design.
The ceremony also will include a Carnival-style segment from the
host of the 2016 games, Rio de Janeiro.
Branding of the event suggests London is aiming for a plucky,
irreverent tone that makes a contrast to Beijing’s 2008 Olympic
closer, which was heavy on precision displays of fireworks,
acrobatics and dancing.
The ”Symphony of British Music” logo adopts a cut-and-paste
type font and Union Jack backdrop that evokes the punk era.
While the July 27 Olympic opening ceremony, directed by
”Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle, promises references
to Shakespeare’s ”The Tempest,” east London’s industrial past,
London buses and Britain’s health service, the closer’s aims sound
Gavin promised a ”very colorful visual spectacular, one that
will make you feel great walking home.”
Some of the difference between the two ceremonies is the result
of logistics. While Boyle can spend days preparing the Olympic
Stadium for his opener, Gavin said he has 17 hours between the end
of sporting events and the start of the final ceremony.
Gavin says he has taken account of the most unpredictable
element of all – British weather.
”I’m assuming it will rain,” he said. ”In the absolute
sheeting rain, the lighting can look great.”
Jill Lawless can be reached at: