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.