James MacMillan to write for 2012 Cultural Olympiad

Top names feature in festival to tie in with Olympic games

James MacMillan is to compose a new piece for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The Scottish composer is to write a work celebrating the 50th anniversary of Coventry Cathedral, which takes place the same year as the London Olympics.

MacMillan follows in the footsteps of Britten, who wrote his War Requiem for the cathedral's reconsecration in 1962. Coventry Cathedral was rebuilt after German bombing left the former building in ruins during World War II.

Other highlights of the Cultural Olympiad include the UK premiere of Philip Glass's opera Einstein on the Beach, and a new commission by English National Opera (ENO).

The opera house and Manchester International Festival have commissioned Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett  – best known as the team behind pop project Gorillaz – along with theatre director Rufus Norris to create a new work.

It's not the only commission that'll be premiered during the Olympiad. 'New Music 20X12', a project run in conjunction with the PRS for Music Foundation, will see 20 new works being performed. Each will last for 12 minutes, and will be broadcast on Radio 3 before touring the UK.

The line up for the 12-week festival was unveiled at a launch at the Royal Opera House by Cultural Olympiad director, Ruth Mackenzie. London 2012 festival will be the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, which has a budget of £83m and has seen projects across the arts going on around the UK since the end of the Beijing games in 2008.

Elizabeth Davies