London Throws World's Biggest Party at Closing Ceremony
Artistic Director Kim Gavin brought together Britain’s biggest international stars and emerging talent to perform in a Closing Ceremony that provided the soundtrack for the whole world to celebrate the achievements of the world’s greatest athletes during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The London 2012 Olympic Games welcomed the finest athletes from more than 200 nations, a historic third time the capital has hosted the world’s biggest and most important sporting event and the catalyst for Team GB’s best performance at Games since 1908.
The Ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Stadium in the heart of east London paid tribute to UK music, fashion and culture, capturing the spirit that has inspired so much global creativity over the past 50 years.
Seb Coe, Chair, London Organising Committee of the Olympic & Paralympic Games (LOCOG), said: ‘Kim Gavin has delivered a fitting celebration of the athletes, the volunteers, this City and the whole country, who have helped us stage a great Olympic Games. We have shown the best of us throughout these Games and provided the platform for the world’s greatest athletes to shine. I would like to pay tribute to the volunteers, the performers and the country for making Games so memorable for the athletes and sports fans of the world.’
Kim Gavin, London 2012 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony Artistic Director said: ‘I was lucky because Seb Coe basically just asked me to put on a party, a celebration of London and the UK. To me the sport was always the main event, and I wanted to create a great after show party for the athletes, the volunteers, the spectators and people watching around the world. My approach, just like any party, was to start with the music. We wanted the Ceremony to reflect on UK music and how good and global British music is.’
Kim Gavin led the spectacular show with a team of talented creatives including Music Director David Arnold and Designer Es Devlin. A volunteer cast of 3,500 on average rehearsed for 60 hours each in a total of 135 rehearsals during evenings and weekends at two east London rehearsal sites. 350 children volunteers were drawn from 10 schools in the six east London Host Boroughs.
The Ceremony opened with a journey through the day in the life of London called ‘Rush Hour’. During a chaotic London rush hour scene featuring physical theatre group Stomp, Emeli Sandé performed ‘Read All About It’, Julian Lloyd Webber and the London Symphony Orchestra performed Edward Elgar’s ‘Salut D’Amour’, London gospel choir Urban Voices Collective performed the Beatles ‘Because’. Winston Churchill, played by British actor Timothy Spall, then brought the cacophony to a stop and the London Symphony Orchestra, Urban Voices Collective and The Massed Bands of the Household Division performed ‘God Save the Queen’ whilst the Union Flag was raised by representatives of the Royal Navy, Arm and Royal Air Force. Rain clouds on the floor cloth were then pulled away to reveal an artwork by one of the world’s most famous living artists, Damian Hirst.
A street party reminiscent of the scenes across the UK for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee featured Madness performing ‘Our House’, the Household Division Ceremonial State Band performing Blur’s ‘Parklife’ joined by the Hackney Colliery Band, the Pet Shop Boys performing ‘West End Girls’ and global superstars One Direction performed ‘ What makes You Beautiful’. As the day in the life of London drew to a close Ray Davies performed ‘Waterloo Sunset’ whilst Britain’s Got Talent winners Spelbound performed on iconic London landmarks before Emeli Sandé returned with a reprise of ‘Read All About It’.
The 10,000 athletes entered the stadium together as a group rather than in their separate teams, reflecting the global solidarity and universality of the Olympic movement, free from geographic and national boundaries. The arrival of the athletes was accompanied by a performance by Elbow backed by the London Symphony Orchestra and was followed by a highlights film made by the BBC of the London 2012 Olympic Games being projected onto a pyramid made of 3030 white boxes representing the 3030 Olympic events. Once the athletes of the world were gathered in ‘mosh pits’ around the stage the Men’s Marathon Victory Ceremony and a tribute to the 70,000 Games Maker volunteers who have been central to the Games’ success took place.
Then the party really began with an extended symphony featuring some of the finest moments in British popular music with songs performed by their original recording artists, classic British songs performed by new and emerging artists, and a soundtrack of original recordings providing the soundtrack to spectacular moments. Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz emerged from three Rolls Royce Phantom Series II Drophead Coupés to perform hits ‘Price Tag’, ‘Written in the Stars’, ‘Dynamite’ and Bee Gee’s classic ‘You Should Be Dancing’.
The British supermodels appeared from behind stunning photos shot by legendary British photographer Nick Knight for the September issue of UK Vogue to a soundtrack of David Bowie songs culminating in the 1980 hit ‘Fashion’, and wearing bespoke creations by iconic British fashion designers Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Kane, Burberry, Erdem, Victoria Beckham, Jonathan Saunders, Stephen Jones and Paul Smith.
There were appearances by members of Queen, George Michael, the Kaiser Chiefs, Annie Lennox, Ed Sheeran, Russell Brand, Bond, Fatboy Slim, Beady Eye with lead vocalist Liam Gallagher and Muse singing their official London 2012 song ‘Survival’.
In a homage to Monty Python, Eric Idle performed ‘Always Look On The Bright Side of Life’ with a surreal selection of characters including Morris Dancers, rugby players, Bhangra dancers, a battalion of the Roman Army, Scottish pipers, skating nuns, angels and an opera singer . The section culminated in Chachi Calencia, alias ‘The Rocket Man’, being fired across the stadium from a cannon.
Julian Lloyd Webber said: “It continued where the Opening Ceremony left off. It was kind of surreal and bizarre and crazy. It’s got humour – all the things the British are good at.”
Timothy Spall said: “It’s not every day you are asked to get into Big Ben and come out of the top of it as Churchill reciting Shakespeare. My heart stopped about halfway through the speech but luckily my legs were shaking so much it kept me going.”
Suggs (Madness) said: “It was a blur, it went so fast. Obviously, we have been hanging around a lot today. It’s been like Stella Street with more famous people that I’ve ever seen in my life.
Liam Payne (One Direction) said: “It’s been absolutely amazing. We would have been at school when they announced the Olympics would be in London. Now we’ve managed to perform at the Closing Ceremony.”
Harry Styles (One Direction) said: “It’s definitely the highlight of my career so far. There are so many big names walking around, so many legends in one room.”
Ricky Wilson (Kaiser Chiefs) said: “I want to do it again and again and again. You can’t buy drugs like that, so I’m told. We are a pop band, is it all subjective, if you win an Olympic gold is finite. You can’t argue with that.”
Annie Lennox said: “That mixture of street culture, music, fashion and sport – these are the ways working class kids have come through and become something in the world.”
Eric Idle said: ‘I'm delighted to be an Olympian, and proud to have been chosen to represent my country at Show Business. I'm hoping for a Brass Medal.’
The Olympic Flag was lowered to the Olympic Anthem sung by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and the London Welsh Rugby Club Choir before being handed over from Mayor of London Boris Johnson to IOC President Jacques Rogge and then was presented to Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes. This marked the start of the Rio 2016 artistic segment ‘Embrace’ from creative directors Cao Hamburger & Daniela Thomas, featuring street cleaner Renato Sorriso, singer Marisa Monte, rapper BNegão, actor-singer Seu Jorge and model Alessandra Ambrósio.
Following speeches by LOCOG Chair Seb Coe and President of the international Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge the Olympic Flame, held in Thomas Heatherwick’s spectacular Cauldron, was extinguished.
As the final flame flickered in the Olympic Cauldron and its stems opened outwards, a new flame came to life above to dramatically form the outline of a flaming 20m-wide phoenix, suspended high above the audience. To the performance of Take That singing ‘Rule the World’, celebrated prima ballerina Darcey Bussell flew down from the roof of the stadium to be met by four male principal dancers from The Royal Ballet and over 200 ballerinas, to then dance en pointe to ‘Spirit of the Flame’, composed by David Arnold. This marked the finale of the Ceremony where everyone who performed in the show took to the stage for a performance by The Who culminating in the final song of the Ceremony, ‘My Generation’, as a nod to the London 2012 Games motto ‘Inspire a Generation’.
The music that provided the soundtrack to the London 2012 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony is available now, just moments after the Ceremony ended tonight. This release follows the massive global success of ‘Isles of Wonder – Music for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games’ which, within seconds of release after the ceremony, had registered in the top 10 download chart in 42 countries. ‘A Symphony of British Music - Music For The Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games’ is released by Universal Music labels Decca / UMC (Universal is music licensee for the London 2012 Olympic Games) with the support of LOCOG and the album will celebrate the global appeal of British music with spectacular performances from some of the most iconic British performers and contemporary artists.
The Ceremony showcased and celebrated 21st century technology and once again used the ‘audience pixels’ made up of 70,799 small panels mounted between the seats in the Olympic Stadium. The pixel screens displayed complex and beautiful images that flood the Stadium via the 317km of cable that connects to the central control. It took a team of 40 almost two months to install the system. Three people have spent 40 hours lining up the images to the irregular shape of the seating bowl.
The Ceremony was screened on the London 2012 Live Sites in 22 towns and cities across the UK where communities have come together to cheer on the athletes throughout the summer. Up to 500,000 people per day have celebrated the Games across the Live Sites throughout the UK, and watched the sporting action on the big screens. The sites, run in partnership between London 2012, the BBC and local authorities, and supported by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, partners BT and Lloyds TSB, and supporters Cadbury and Cisco are fully branded, there will be seating provided so crowds can watch the action in style.
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Olympics: "London Throws World's Biggest Party at Closing Ceremony"