Press Office

Friday 20 Jan 2012

Press Release

BBC launches Music Nation – a celebration of UK's orchestral and live music community as part of countdown to London 2012 Festival

  • The Ulster and RTE Concert Orchestras perform together for the first time in Belfast, in a programme including new work for the two orchestras
  • Flash mob performances of The Marriage Of Figaro across Wales
  • BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra premiere a newly commissioned fanfare from Scottish composer James MacMillan
  • The Barbican Centre presents Urban Classic, with rising stars of the UK's urban music scene performing alongside a symphony orchestra, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra performing the UK premiere of Rufus Wainwright's settings of five Shakespeare sonnets

The BBC today announced Music Nation, a weekend of live music events taking place across the UK on 3 and 4 March 2012, with related performances and community activities in the week leading up to it.

From Cornwall to the Shetland Isles, Belfast to Birmingham, Music Nation is an unprecedented collaboration of the UK's orchestral and music making communities. Orchestras and choirs, large, small, professional and amateur, have formed partnerships with other musical organisations and venues in their area to create and host performances and workshops in 45 locations across the UK with more than 25,000 participants under the Music Nation banner.

The weekend is one of a select group of "countdown" events for the London 2012 Festival, the finale of the Cultural Olympiad, and is a key part of the BBC's Cultural Olympiad programming. Built primarily around classical music, but taking in jazz, folk and world music, Music Nation aims to engage as many people as possible; whether it be attending world-class performances or taking part in community projects and workshops in venues and public places up and down the country.

Devised and led by the BBC, and including performance by the six BBC performing groups, 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 content throughout the weekend, with additional programming on BBC Radio 2, BBC Scotland, BBC Wales, BBC Northern Ireland and BBC Local Radio.

Musical highlights over the weekend include:

  • BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra will be joined by, among others, Nicola Benedetti, members of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and the National Youth Choir of Scotland for a celebration of sporting and musical heroes in Glasgow, including the world premiere of a newly commissioned fanfare from Scottish composer James MacMillan
  • The Royal Scottish National Orchestra in partnership with Shetland Arts will be resident in the Shetland Islands for five days hosting concerts, participative performances and community events including the Orchestra's northernmost UK performances of its 120-year history
  • "The National Flash" – Welsh national performing groups, educational institutions and voluntary music making organisations come together to create flash mob performances of The Marriage Of Figaro across Wales
  • BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be working with ensembles from across Wales, including a collaboration with more than 250 young singers from Welsh county choirs performing a new commission for Music Nation by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins
  • A day-long series of concerts from Land's End to Exmoor curated by the BBC Concert Orchestra involving local ensembles from bell ringers to brass bands, folk groups to the local philharmonic
  • The Barbican, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Guildhall School, SERIOUS, CREATE and Bigga Fish collaborate to present a weekend of activity across spaces and communities, and features the return of Urban Classic with rising stars of the UK's urban music scene working with a symphony orchestra and the UK premiere of Rufus Wainwright's setting of Shakespeare sonnets to a full orchestral score
  • Musical innovator Heiner Goebbels returns to Southbank Centre for a landmark performance of his Surrogate Cities, a symphonic epic expressing the joy and hell of the modern metropolis, with young artists from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London Philharmonic Orchestra Future Firsts, and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Goebbels' experimental theatre is at the heart of a weekend of concerts and events including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Budapest Festival Orchestra
  • Orchestras Live, in partnership with eight different promoters, bring the very best of British Chamber Orchestras to audiences across the country, including the Northern Chamber Orchestra in Shrewsbury, the Scottish Ensemble in Cockermouth and Hull and Aurora Orchestra in Bristol
  • Making Music, the UK's number one organisation for voluntary music, is spearheading activity involving hundreds of voluntary groups across the UK. Its members will create at least 150 different performances of the Making Music Overture, a new piece for London 2012 by Orlando Gough, in outdoor venues across the UK
  • Turner Sims and The City of Southampton with guest artists including Tomorrow's Warriors present the A-Z of Music with performances across the city, starting with A for a capella
  • New piece from folk super-group Bellowhead working alongside Super Strings, a ensemble of young string players from Wiltshire

In addition to the live performances by orchestras, choirs, and professional and amateur performing groups there are also a series of workshops and tutorials taking place at venues around the country giving the public an opportunity to get involved and experience live music. Music Nation will showcase the UK's vibrant live orchestral, classical and music community, including performances of specially commissioned pieces and music written for or inspired by the Olympics. Over 65,000 tickets will be available for the free and paid for events. For details on the BBC's Music Nation coverage visit

Orchestras and performing groups taking part in Music Nation include: the BBC's Performing Groups, The Halle Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, the Ulster Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the LSO; with venues including The Sage, Barbican, Southbank Centre, Roundhouse, Kings Place, Plymouth Pavilions, Clyde Auditorium, LSO St Luke's, Assembly Rooms Derby, Salts Mill Saltaire and many more.

Tim Davie, Director of BBC Audio & Music, says: "The BBC is very proud to have brought together this esteemed group of partners to create Music Nation, in a first for the UK orchestral sector. It will showcase the hugely important role that orchestra, choirs and venues play in communities and create an amazing weekend of fantastic live music. Music Nation, combined with the recently announced Radio 1 Hackney weekend, the 2012 Proms season and our support for New Music 20x12 demonstrates the extent of the BBC's support for live music around the UK."

Ruth Mackenzie, London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Director, says: "With events all over the country, we hope as many people as possible will join in with Music Nation as they prepare for the London 2012 Festival and a fantastic summer of cultural celebration. This unprecedented partnership demonstrates the strength of the UK's creative communities and how the Cultural Olympiad is bringing organisations together to create truly memorable events."

Music Nation is part of the BBC's contribution to the Cultural Olympiad. Further details of the BBC's Cultural Olympiad programmes and events will be announced later in the year.

Notes to Editors

For a list of events confirmed so far see: Music Nation


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