I’ve just heard that this Wednesday (4th March 2009) sees the broadcast of the BBC Documentary ‘London Calling’, which, according to the BBC website;
…follows the exploits of the Ceremonies Team as they prepare to mount the eight-minute show to mark the official handover of responsibility for the Olympic Games from Beijing to London…
I was the music director for the handover, which involved writing a score for the London Symphony Orchestra (based on several well-known traditional British songs as well as The Shipping Forecast and the Greenwich Time Signal) as well as re-arranging the UK National Anthem (in order to make it a bit more lyrical).
The show had to culminate in a well-known song, so, together with co-producer Steve Robson, I recorded Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis performing Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin together with (the brilliant bass player) Guy Pratt and Geoff Dugmore (the most civilised, yet powerful drummer you’ll ever find). We laid down the backing at Olympic Studios with as near to an authentic setup as possible – even down to the risers for the drums and correct amps.
Hearing that riff played by that man in that room.
I Love My Job.
I suspect that the programme will make fairly nailbiting viewing as there were major highs and lows throughout the long development process for everyone, culminating in the adrenalin rush of the show at the Bird’s Nest Stadium – but followed by the revelation that the direct feed of music and sound (which we’d spent months preparing) didn’t appear to find its way from the stadium to TV sets.
For me there were several moments that still seem a little unreal –
Firstly, being in Air studios conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, who were blissfully unaware throughout the recording session that the ‘James‘ I was on intercom with in the control room was a certain guitar player…
Secondly, realising just how technically and musically accomplished Leona Lewis is as an artist. I’ve not worked with many singers in the pop world who can discuss coloratura technique, and operas by Purcell and Bellini. Actually, there was one… Jeff Buckley ! (Check this out…) But Leona can really sing with heart and soul, balanced with quite astounding technique.
But also… Chris Hoy, Jamie Staff and Victoria Pendleton (plus medals) coming to my place for a drink before the cast party. I think I’ll tell my grandchildren about that…
Here’s my version of the National Anthem performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and the singers from The National Youth Theatre.[Audio https://radiomovies.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/anthem-july-20th-1.mp3%5D