Twenty new commissions unveiled for Cultural Olympiad

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Composers celebrate Olypmics and Paralympics

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Sally Beamish, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Anna Meredith are among 20 composers who have been chosen to write pieces for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

The project, called 'New Music 20x12', will see the 20 pieces broadcast on Radio 3 in June next year, before touring the UK. The works, each of which will be 12 minutes long, are inspired by the Olympics and Paralympics and celebrate sports and athletes as well as the idea of human endeavour.

Beamish will be working with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on a piece called Spinal Chords. Melanie Reid, a columnist for The Times, who broke her neck and back in a horse-riding accident this year, will write the text for the work.

Beyond This, Turnage’s piece, will be partly composed by a group of prisoners from HMP Lowdham Grange. It will explore how music can be a vehicle for change. Beatboxing and clapping will take centre stage in HandsFree, Meredith’s work, which she's writing in collaboration with the National Youth Orchestra.

Other eye-catching propositions include a celebratory work for eight church bells by Howard Skempton and a piece by Aaron Cassidy for contemporary music ensemble EXAUDI, inspired by Olympic athletes pushing their body to extremes.

There will also be a new opera by Conor Mitchell, a piece called Ping! by Joe Cutler, exploring the sounds of table tennis, and a musical relay race – with four ‘legs’, each of three minutes – by Luke Carver Goss.

‘These pieces will form a vibrant and exciting celebration of British composition in 2012,’ says Roger Wright, controller of Radio 3 and chair of the panel, ‘[They will] help to reflect the Olympic and Paralympic values through their creative excellence and inspirational ideas.'

Elizabeth Davis

Image: Tom Donald

Composers left to right: 1. Sally Beamish 2. Aaron Cassidy 3. Liz Liew 4. Conor Mitchell 5. Michael Wolters 6. Andy Leung 7. Julian Joseph 8. Sheema Mukherjee 9. Richard Causton 10. Howard Skempton 11. Emily Howard 12. David Bruce 13. Oliver Searle 14. Gavin Higgins 15. Jason Yarde 16. Aidan O’Rourke 17. Anna Meredith 18. Joe Cutler Missing: Mark-Anthony Turnage, Luke Carver Goss