London Games to close to sound of British music

LONDON (Reuters) - The 2012 London Olympics will bow out to the strains of British music, a journey from classical composer Edward Elgar to chart-topping soul queen Adele, at the August 12 closing ceremony.

Called "A Symphony of British Music," the coda to the Games will weave music from across regions and eras into a "colourful, fun and emotional story," organisers said on Thursday.

"We go from - without saying that we've booked anyone - from Elgar to Adele in terms of the journey that we take, in terms of the distance," music director David Arnold said.

An estimated worldwide television audience of 750 million people will tune in, making it the second biggest television event in the world, after the opening ceremony.

"Celebration is at the heart of this particular ceremony, and what better way to celebrate than to use music at the heart of it, music being perhaps one of the most important contributions that Britain has made during the past 50 years to the world," Stephen Daldry, in charge of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics, said.

Few details of the songs and artists were revealed, but a cast of some 4,100 will take part.

Media speculation has been rife in recent months about who would take to the stage at various Olympic festivities, with suggested names including veteran rockers The Rolling Stones and Elton John and more recent hitmakers such as The Spice Girls.

The London Symphony Orchestra, one of Britain's leading orchestras, will record the core orchestral soundtrack for all four ceremonies in the 80,000-seat stadium.


Artistic director Kim Gavin, who has been involved in producing some of the biggest live events in recent years including the memorial concert for Princess Diana in 2007 and Take That's comeback tours, said the event would be an "elegant mash-up of British music."

It would also showcase British design, culture and fashion, in a "melting pot of British creativity."

Daldry rejected the idea the event could be seen as too introspective, saying the songs would appeal to people beyond Britain's shores.

"Of course, it has an international response to it, people will recognise it throughout the world, but it has to be subjective," he said.

Arnold, the man behind the music for the past five James Bond films, said he did not feel overshadowed by the opening ceremony.

"It's a bit like saying: 'What's it like being at the wedding reception and not at the wedding?'. Sometimes the reception is the best part," he said.

"Hopefully by the end, when the fireworks go off, you will get some idea of what this country is about, not only in the past musically but where we are now culturally."

Some 80 million pounds will be spent on the ceremonies, after the government recently doubled the budget, though Daldry declined to give a breakdown on how much would be spent on each event.

Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of "Slumdog Millionaire," will oversee the opening ceremony with its theme of "Isles of Wonder" taken from William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest."

Other events will coincide with the closing ceremony, including a concert at Hyde Park in central London where British bands Blur, The Specials and New Order will take to the stage.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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