Torch Song

A couple of months ago, I was commissioned to compose music for the Olympic Torch Relay as it passes through Banchory.  This has been a major challenge as, aside from being the least sporty person in the world, I have various concerns about the corporate, commercial and political issues attached to the Olympic Games.  So, the task was to find a way of approaching this without feeling like I was “selling out” in some way…

Firstly, I decided that whatever I created should be specific to the local community of Banchory.  One of the issues, it seems, for many people north of the border (or anywhere north of London, for that matter) is the sense that they have no connection, and therefore interest, in the Games.  And so, I’ve chosen to record interviews with local people and ask them to tell me what their honest opinions are of the London Olympics – no matter how negative those opinions might be.  The risk, of course, is that I’ll receive nothing but negative responses… However, the other question that I ask is: is there any particularly inspirational Olympic moment that stands out in your memory?

I asked that question of Anne Vernay (a member of Banchory’s “Singing for Joy” Choir) this morning.  It was wonderful to see how animated she became as she recalled the British team, led by a rower deemed “too old” to compete, winning the rowing contest in a previous Olympics.  It struck me that this is what the Olympics should be about: human endeavour and defying the odds.

My contribution to the Torch Relay’s journey through Banchory is in two formats.  The first is a five-channel audio installation which combines the aforementioned interviews and composed music.  This will be located outdoors near the centre of the town.  The second is a short piece that will be performed by several choir members in Banchory’s High Street before and after the torch arrives.  I decided to refer to the Olympic odes by the ancient Greek poet, Pindar for the text.  Pindar’s words resonate with the awe of witnessing “superhuman” feats of strength and achievement.  His enthusiasm for the spirit of the Olymics is palpable, and I hope this is what will come across in the music I’ve written.

The Olympic Torch passes through Banchory on the 11th June around 5pm.  Further details, and a list of the Banchory torchbearers can be found here:

Sounds, images and more info coming soon…

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