London Symphony is Told to Fake it at the Olympics

Monday, June 04, 2012 - 11:00 AM

Aerial photo of the Olympic Park main stadium in London Aerial photo of the Olympic Park main stadium in London (Wikimedia Commons)

Musicians in the London Symphony Orchestra are reportedly going to join the ranks of Milli Vanilli and mime their performance at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.

Reports from London state that organizers are concerned that bad weather and poor acoustics of the Olympic Stadium — a bowl-shaped facility with seating for 80,000 — could make a live performance too risky. The performance is set to take place as athletes from competing nations parade around the arena on July 27.

London's Daily Mail reports that the LSO recorded its performances six weeks ago at London's Abbey Road studios, apparently against the wishes of Oscar-winner Danny Boyle, who serves as artistic director for the massive event.

When an estimated four billion television viewers tune in for the event, they'll see the orchestra and conductor moving their hands and arms while a soundtrack plays.

The news is hardly unique to this year's ceremony. In 2008, a nine-year-old singer lip-synced the "Ode to the Motherland" to the voice of another young girl whom Beijing officials had deemed less telegenic. Two years earlier, tenor Luciano Pavarotti used a tape when he was called on to sing his trademark "Nessun dorma" at the Torino Olympics.

Musicians in the orchestra complained of the decision in London newspaper reports, citing their recent outdoor performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in London's Trafalgar Square as evidence that they can manage the acoustical challenges. A request for comment by WQXR.org was not immediately returned.

A spokesman for Locog, the organizing committee, told the Mail: "Due to the complexity of staging the ceremony, it is not possible for all music to be live."

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

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Comments [4]

David from Flushing

Why can't people just be content with recorded music instead of this silly pretense of fake live music? Anything that is amplified is not going to be concert hall quality in any event. The reverb of outdoors is zero.

Jun. 05 2012 11:28 AM

Why won't WQXR use standard Headline/Up/Title Case?

London Symphony is Told to Fake it at the Olympics

This is just wrong. Even though "is" and "it" are percieved as little words, they are very important to the headline. There would be NO headline without "is".

Well, "is" could be omitted and implied.

Jun. 05 2012 03:33 AM

Susan, thanks for your thoughts. As I noted above, it also happened in Beijing in 2008 and Turin in 2005. It would be interesting to hear from the producer of an Olympic event on how various creative decisions are made. Especially after Beijing, the bar for producing a big spectacle was set pretty high.

Jun. 04 2012 09:28 PM
Susan Elliott from NYC

Brian: This is business as usual for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games. Everywhere. It has to do with weather, yes, but mostly the audio for the TV feed. These events are more chaotic than you can possibly imagine. We did it in Atlanta in 96, too.

Jun. 04 2012 08:13 PM

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