THE BIG CONCERT Kicks Off London 2012 Festiva Today, June 21
The London 2012 Festival, a 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, opens with five spectacular events taking place in Stirling, Derry~Londonderry, South Wales the Lake District, and Birmingham today, 21 June 2012.
Opening the London 2012 Festival in Scotland is The Big Concert with Venezuelan superstar, Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The 200-strong orchestra will perform an open-air concert set against the backdrop of Scotland’s Stirling Castle, and will be joined by aspiring young local musicians. Since 2008, children from the Scottish community of Raploch, Stirling, have taken part in Big Noise, an orchestra programme that aims to use music making to foster confidence, teamwork, pride and aspiration in the children taking part and across their wider community. Big Noise is partnered with El Sistema, the Venezuelan project that has transformed the lives of thousands of children through classical music. Not only will this concert be broadcast on BBC Four and BBC Radio Scotland, but also screened live on London 2012 Live Sites in 22 towns and cities across the UK as the culmination of a day of programming of London 2012 Festival films on the big screens.
To mark the London 2012 Festival opening and the arrival of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay to the shores of the largest natural lake in England, French street arts company, Les Commandos Percu bring a spectacular outdoor show, On the Night Shift, to Lake Windermere in Cumbria. Created especially for the London 2012 Festival by the French pyrotechnicians and musicians, the show will see streams of colour and light blaze across the skies alongside the magic of music, dance and fire, with performances by specially selected UK artists.
Opening the London 2012 Festival in Wales is artist Jeremy Deller’s life-size inflatable replica of Stonehenge, entitled Sacrilege, which will ‘pop up’ for the first time at the National Botanical Gardens in Carmarthen to mark the opening day of the London 2012 Festival. The representation of one of the world's seven wonders is an interactive outdoor installation and is a fully operational bouncy castle for adults and children alike. Jeremy Deller's playful artwork will start its UK tour in Wales to launch the London 2012 Festival and then travel to multiple sites across the UK, including London, during the London 2012 Festival as part of the Mayor's programme of free events taking place in every borough. This is the first of a series of pop up events taking place across the UK, with events including comedy gigs, visual art installations, music concerts, and outdoor events. To find out more, sign up for email updates at www.london2012.com/festival.
A number of the opening events also celebrate the theme of Olympic Truce, which has been an inspiration for the London 2012 Festival programme. The Olympic Truce, central to the first Olympic Games held in 776 BC, encourages nations to cease hostilities and set aside conflict during the Olympic Games in order to celebrate humanity, noble competition and peaceful gathering, through sport and the values of Olympism, of all peoples and cultures. In 2011 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging the nations of the world to observe the Olympic Truce during the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London. This ancient tradition has inspired the programme for the opening day of London 2012 Festival.
Peace One Day, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the idea of one day a year free of conflict and war, is organising Peace One Day – Global Truce Countdown 2012 for Northern Ireland’s London 2012 Festival major opening concert on 21 June, marking the three-month countdown to Global Truce on Peace Day, 21 September 2012. Taking place at Ebrington Square, a former Parade Ground in Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the sell out free event will feature stars including Pixie Lott, Imelda May, Newton Faulkner, Guillemots and Wonder Villains. The concert is produced by Peace One Day founder Jeremy Gilley and ambassador Jude Law.
In Birmingham on the opening night of the London 2012 Festival Edward Gardner will conduct the UK premiere of Weltethos, British composer Jonathan Harvey’s epic choral work exploring common values between different faiths and traditions, in a powerful manifesto for world peace. The work will be performed by The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, CBSO Chorus, Youth Chorus and Children's Chorus at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall and narrated by celebrated actor Samuel West. Outside in Victoria Square an enormous ship will be at the centre of a new free outdoor production featuring dancers, aerialists and musicians for The Voyage.
Also launching on 21 June is Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE art installation, which will be unveiled on London 2012 Live Site screens, situated at multiple free outdoor venues in London including Hyde Park, Victoria Park, Walthamstow and Woolwich, and at venues throughout the United Kingdom. IMAGINE PEACE is Yoko Ono’s worldwide initiative of anti-violence, featuring the IMAGINE PEACE message translated into 24 world languages. This ongoing project uses the Internet, posters, thoughts, badges and a multitude of other media to communicate its message of peace to the global community. Yoko Ono stated: “Let us come together to realize a peaceful world”. A major exhibition of the artist’s work will also be on show at the Serpentine Gallery as part of the London 2012 Festival.
From 21 June until 9 September 2012, this ‘once in a lifetime’ Festival features more than 25,000 artists from all 204 competing Olympic nations. Everyone will be able to join in the celebration with over 10 million free tickets and opportunities to take part in 12,000 events and performances at 900 venues in villages, towns and cities all over the UK, including 137 world premieres and 85 UK premieres.
The festival consists of commissions and invited events in all art forms, dedicated to showcasing the best of British and world culture through exceptional creative partnerships.
Other major highlights of the London 2012 Festival that are taking place during the first week include:
• Australian comedian, composer and musician Tim Minchin bringing his own unique blend of musical comedy to The Eden Project (23 June 2012).
• The world premieres at Edinburgh International Film Festival of four short films showcasing great UK filmmaking talent, including A Running Jump by legendary director Mike Leigh; WHAT IF starring Noel Clarke and directed by Max and Dania, Swimmer by Lynne Ramsey; and The Odyssey, by BAFTA-award winning film-maker Asif Kapadia (24 June 2012, followed by screenings at Picturehouse Cinemas nationwide).
• BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend, a free celebration of live music featuring six stages and more than 100 International Artists including Jay-Z, Rihanna, Florence + the Machine, and Jessie J, and DJ David Guetta (23 – 24 June 2012).
• The Crash of The Elysium, a live Doctor Who adventure in which the audience are the stars, created by award-winning theatre company Punchdrunk with the Doctor Who team (5 June – 8 July 2012).
• A Hansel of Film – Shetland to Southampton and Back, a UK wide relay of screenings of short films made by the public. The project takes films made by Shetlanders and others to twenty-four screenings around the country, hand delivered by volunteer relay runners. It will culminate in a marathon screening of over 100 short films at Shetland's annual film festival, Screenplay, in September (10 June – 7 September 2012).
• London 2012 celebrates the global appeal of William Shakespeare with the World Shakespeare Festival – an unprecedented collaboration of leading UK and international arts organisations, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Performances and events are scheduled in more than 25 venues across the UK (23 April – November 2012). During the opening weekend, audience members will have the opportunity to attend RSC productions of Julius Caesar, King John and Richard III in Stratford-Upon-Avon and Twelfth Night, The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors at Roundhouse; Baghdad’s Iraqi Theatre Company production of Romeo & Juliet at Riverside Studios; and In a Pickle, a production for families and young children by Oily Cart at Stratford Circus.
• The first major survey of Damien Hirst’s work ever held in the UK, bringing together over 70 of the artist’s works including For the Love of God and other seminal pieces at Tate Modern (4 April – 9 September 2012).
• Northampton arts venue Royal & Derngate presents Festival Of Chaos, exploring the contemporary relevance of Dionysius, the god of dance, ecstasy and chaos, with three new interpretations of classic plays, The Bacchae by Euripides, Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca, and Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler (18 May – 28 July 2012).
• An important exhibition of works by Tracey Emin, presented at the award-winning Turner Contemporary in her hometown, Margate. She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea contains a mixture of new and existing works exploring the themes of love, sex and romanticism (26 May – 23 September 2012).
• Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary, the first major solo exhibition from one of the most inventive and experimental British design studios practising today, also designers of the 2012 Olympic Cauldron, presented by the V&A as part of a season of events celebrating British design (31 May – 30 September 2012).
• A season of contemporary West African art and music entitled We Face Forward: Art from West Africa Today taking place across galleries, museums, music venues and public spaces in Manchester, including Manchester Art Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery and Park, and Platt Hall Gallery of Costume (2 June – 16 September 2012). On 23 June, Seckou Keita, Senegalese virtuoso master of the Kora, and his band perform a free concert for the We Face Forward Olympic Torch Relay Party taking place after the Olympic torch passes through Manchester.
• Welsh interdisciplinary artist Marc Rees will take a mobile art space made from a transformed DC-9 airplane, Adain Avion, on a tour around Wales in one of the twelve UK Arts Councils’ Artists Taking The Lead commissions. He is working with contemporary artists and local community groups to produce over 150 cultural activities that reflect the distinctive history and culture of each area, providing a succession of unique snapshots of Welsh culture. Adain Avion will visit Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum between Sunday 24 June and Sunday 1 July, Ebbw Vale The Works between Sunday 1 and Saturday 7 July, Llandudno Venue Cymru between Sunday 8 and Saturday 14 July, the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Llandow, Vale of Glamorgan between Saturday 4 and Saturday 11 August and Cardiff St Fagans National History Museum on Sunday 12 August.
• The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012, created by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, the design team responsible for the celebrated Beijing National Stadium that was built for the 2008 Olympic Games. This year's Pavilion features eleven columns characterising each past Pavilion and a twelfth column representing the current structure, supporting a floating platform roof 1.4 metres above ground (1 June-14 October 2012).
• The International Student Drama Festival goes global for 2012, presenting the very best of British and international student drama in a nine-day extravaganza of theatre, comedy, music, workshops and debate held in Sheffield. The programme includes 10 selected international shows from Iran, Zimbabwe, Georgia, Japan and America (22 – 30 June 2012).
• Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: World Cities 2012, an unprecedented season of 10 works by one of the most influential choreographers in dance, Pina Bausch. Taking place at Sadler’s Wells and the Barbican Centre, the productions explore 10 global cities spanning Kolkata to São Paulo, Los Angeles to Istanbul, seven of which are UK premieres (6 June – 9 July 2012).
• Elevator Repair Service’s spellbinding production Gatz, a word-for-word staging of Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Fresh from its sell-out Broadway run, the epic eight-hour theatrical experience is being performed at London’s Noël Coward Theatre (8 June – 15 July 2012).
• English Pocket Opera Company presents Ring Round the World, the biggest children’s opera ever made, an opera in 220 scenes – one for every major world nation. Working with hundreds of schools and a cast of more than 6,000 children, this tale of adventure journeys around the world, collecting a ‘story' from each place visited (12 June – 18 July 2012).
• Tony Award-winning Druid Theatre Company stages DruidMurphy an epic take on Irish emigration spanning 1846 to 1980 told through three plays by Tom Murphy, at The Hampstead Theatre, London (20 – 30 June 2012).
• The world premiere of Crow, a production based on TEd Hughes’ powerfully visceral Crow poems by Handspring Puppet Company UK, known for their work on the critically acclaimed National Theatre's production of War Horse (21 June – 7 July 2012).
• Events from the Festival’s Unlimited programme, the largest ever UK programme celebrating arts, culture and sport by disabled and deaf people. Composer, musician and performer Jez Colborne brings Irresistible: Sound of Sirens to Ilkley, a breath-taking musical event and symphony using warning sirens, traditional instruments and songs (21 – 23 June 2012). Also scheduled is Unlimited Global Academy, a collaborative exhibition of artworks and films by British artist Rachel Gadsden and the South Africian Bambanani artist-activist Group (23 June – 9 September 2012), and Private Dancer directed by Janice Parker, an immersive performance featuring unique choreography created by some of Scotland’s best disabled dancers (21 – 23 June 2012).
• Outdoor sculptures by British artist Tony Cragg will be exhibited on the grounds of the Cass Sculpture Foundation in Goodwood, West Sussex (21 June – 4 November 2012). The Foundation is also presenting London’s first outdoor exhibition of Tony Cragg’s work on Exhibition Road (1 September – 25 November 2012).
• Tate Britain displays the Official Olympic and Paralympic Posters by leading artists including Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Tracey Emin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris, Bob and Roberta Smith, Martin Creed, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Chris Ofili, Bridget Riley, Rachel Whiteread in a free exhibition (21 June - 21 September 2012).
• mac Birmingham will be transformed for the UK premiere of theatrical innovator Heiner Goebbels’ work Walden, based on Henry David Thoreau’s account of his retreat to simple living and self-sufficiency. As well as performances of Walden, visitors will experience new music theatre from Birmingham Conservatoire, films, visual arts, talks and discussions, and writing workshops (23 June 2012).
• Celebrated conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the electric Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela return to London’s Southbank Centre for its four-day residency, Sounds Venezuela 2012. The festival celebrates Venezuela’s Sistema, a world-famous programme designed to connect young people from underprivileged backgrounds with classical music, and throughout the residency, the centre will become a unique learning and performing centre for hundreds of children from across the country (23 – 26 June 2012).
• Australian circus company Circa and British ensemble I Fagiolini collaborate on the acrobatic, sound, light and projection show How Like An Angel that will feature in Cathedrals in Norwich (26-28 June), Ely (2-3 July), Gloucester (16-17 July) and Ripon (28-19 July).
• The free Trafalgar Square festivAl West End LIVE, for the first time featuring entertainment from every single one of London’s highly-acclaimed West End musicals (23 – 24 June 2012).
• Screenings at Picturehouse Cinemas nationwide of the BAFTA-award winning film The Itch of the Golden Nit, an Aardman Animation presented by Tate Movie Project. Thousands of drawings, sound effects and story ideas make up this action-packed, half-hour animation, voiced by British talent including David Walliams, Miranda Hart, Vic Reeves and Catherine Tate (from 23 June 2012).
• ENO bring Damon Albarn's Dr Dee to the London stage. Written and performed by Blur and Gorillaz front man Damon Albarn and directed by Rufus Norris, you are invited to enter an Elizabethan world brimming with intrigue, mysticism and music (25 June – 7 July).
For the London 2012 Festival brochure, more details on the programme, and to sign up for information, please visit the London 2012 Festival website at: www.london2012.com/festival. The official London 2012 Join In app available to download now at www.london2012.com/mobileapps.
The London 2012 Festival is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad. Since the Cultural Olympiad started in 2008 over 18 million people all over the UK have already participated in or attended over 9,000 performances and more than 8,000 workshops as part of Cultural Olympiad programmes inspired by London 2012 and funded by our principal funders and sponsors.
Photo credit: Chris Christodoulou