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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

MAKING THE MOST NOISE FOR THE OLYMPICS



Making the most noise for the Olympics
The London 2012 Festival starts off with a bang

By Julia Michalska. Web only
Published online: 21 June 2012

The London 2012 Festival gets off to a noisy start today 21 June as the French street arts company, Les Commandos Percus, take over the shores of Lake Windermere in Cumbria with a percussion and firework extravaganza. In Scotland, the Big Noise orchestra, a children’s charity programme, joins superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, for the Big Concert, an open-air event set against the backdrop of Stirling Castle. Peace and quiet are also far from the agenda in Wales, as the UK artist Jeremy Deller’s bouncy castle-style replica of Stonehenge, Sacrilege, pops-up at the National Botanic Gardens in Carmarthen. Other headline events today include the Peace One Day concert in Northern Ireland’s Londonderry, featuring Pixie Lott, Imelda May and the Guillemots and in Birmingham, the city's symphony orchestra will present the UK premiere of the choral work “Weltethos” by Jonathan Harvey.

The festival, a 12-week series of cultural events ushering in the Olympic Games, is the grand finale of the Cultural Olympiad, a programme that has been running since 2008. Much broader than the name implies, the festival takes place across the whole country, although many events are due to happen in the capital. With a total budget of £55m, the festival has pulled in many big names including the singer-songwriter Damon Albarn, the actress Cate Blanchett, the artist Tracey Emin, the hip-hop stars Jay-Z and Rihanna, and the animated characters Wallace and Gromit. The festival’s director Ruth Mackenzie defended the large price tag, saying: “I assure you, for a 12-week festival over the entire United Kingdom, compared with the budget for just three weeks in Edinburgh or the two weeks in Manchester, frankly it’s a pretty small investment,” calling it a “once-in-a lifetime event”. In all, around 25,000 artists from all 204 competing countries are taking part. 12,000 events are planned at 900 venues all over the UK.


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