Cultural Olympiad 2012

London 2012 Festival and The Cultural Olympiad on the BBC

Music Nation - 3 & 4 March 2012

Music Nation is a nationwide weekend of live events devised and led by the BBC, including performances by the six BBC Performing Groups. The weekend is the first nationwide countdown event to the London 2012 Festival.

From Cornwall to the Shetland Isles and Belfast to Birmingham, Music Nation is an unprecedented collaboration of the UK’s orchestral and music-making communities – built primarily around classical music, but also taking in jazz, folk and world music.

All six BBC Performing Groups will play a major role in Music Nation, including the world première of a newly commissioned fanfare by James MacMillan by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Mercury Music Prize nominee Seth Lakeman performing arrangements of his songs with the BBC Concert Orchestra at Plymouth Pavilions; and the UK première of Rufus Wainwright’s Five Shakespeare Sonnets with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in London.

Elsewhere in the UK, Turner Sims presents Southampton’s Musical Alphabet, an A-Z of music in 26 hours – from African drumming and a cappella to zumba and zydeco – at venues across the city; the Royal National Scottish Orchestra hosts a week of workshops and performances in the Shetland Islands, including the Orchestra’s northernmost UK performances of its 120-year history; and more than 15 amateur orchestras and performing groups will be taking part over the weekend, including a collaboration between Super Strings, an ensemble of 120 young string players from Wiltshire, and folk super group Bellowhead.

Music Nation is a partnership with Arts Council England, the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), British Association of Concert Halls (BACH), Orchestras Live, Making Music, Conservatoires UK and Locog to celebrate the richness, diversity and excellence of Britain’s musical life.

BBC Radio 3, Music Nation’s principal media partner, will broadcast live and specially recorded content throughout the weekend, with additional programming on BBC Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and BBC local radio.

Mark Pemberton, Director, Association of British Orchestras (ABO), said: "The ABO is delighted to have been an active partner in helping the BBC develop a major ‘orchestral moment’ as a trailblazer for the London 2012 Festival. With orchestras participating in events across the country on the first weekend of March 2012, our aim is not only to provide an opportunity for people to access great music as part of this national celebration, but also to inspire participation in orchestral music and the pursuit of excellence among young musicians, as much as the Games aim to inspire young people to embrace sporting achievement.”

CT/AH