The last night of sport at the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games coincided with the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms on 8th September and it was a night full of Olympic tributes. The programme included work by Josef Suk, which won a musical prize at the Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games, back when there were also contests for artists, as well as athletes. His ‘Towards a New Life’ is now considered a classic Olympic fanfare and a fitting prelude to John Williams’ ‘Olympic Fanfare and Theme’, which took place in Part two of the evening
The popular Williams composition is an iconic Olympic musical score and was even greeted in the Royal Albert Hall with a solitary Olympic flag, which stood amidst a uniquely international collection of other flags in what is one of the most popular British nights of the year, watched all over the UK.
It was also a night for festival. In this unique year for the BBC Proms, now in its 118th season, it was made part of the London 2012 Festival, the primary Cultural Olympiad brand during Games time, running throughout the Proms season.
It was also apt then that Antonin Dvork’s Carnival was played in this important year, as it was first played at the original Proms in 1895. Dvorak – whose birthday in 1841 also fell on the 8th September – composed the piece imagining a ‘lonely, contemplative wanderer reaching at twilight a city where a festival is in full swing’. Played at twilight in London on the penultimate night of the London 2012 Games and within the London 2012 Festival programme, one could not imagine a greater festival in any fuller swing!
Whether by design or by chance, this Paralympic Games time finale was a wonderful climax to the London 2012 Games’ cultural programme, which could only be followed by a closing ceremony, which takes place on Sunday the 9th September at 730pm.
The evening concluded by bringing the Olympic programme full circle, with a rendition of Jerusalem, which also featured in the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. There was also a surprise appearance of Team GB gold medalists, who accompanied the audience in a rendition of “Rule Britannia’, a Last Night of the Proms classic, and a special mention to London 2012’s Cultural Olympiad by Jiri Belohlavek, outgoing Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra – the evening’s star of the show.