London 2012: New Music on the Podium

16th August 2022


It's 10 years since the Olympic Games rolled through London, so what better time to take a look back at the legacy of London 2012 and the 'Cultural Olympiad'. 2012 saw the commissions of 20 new pieces of music that were released on NMC. That legacy of commissioning new music continues today. Discover more below...

New Music 20x12 was a UK-wide commissioning programme consisting of 20 new pieces of music, each 12 minutes in length, celebrating the talent and imagination of the UK’s musical community as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

These 20 new works were performed in a wide range of venues and unexpected locations across the length and breadth of the UK – from churches, arts centres and concert halls to public spaces, festivals and a train journey. 


Musicians rehearsing Beyond This at HMP Lowdham Grange

The commissions encompassed an exciting range of composers and music genres and offered a snapshot of the UK’s rich musical life, from jazz, folk and music for brass band to contemporary classical, chamber opera and music written for dance. Each piece took its inspiration from the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games – endeavour, celebration, achievement and collaboration – and became a once in a lifetime celebration of new music.


NYO rehearsing HandsFree

One of the highlights of the works commissioned as part of 20x12 was by Anna Meredith. HandsFree featured the National Youth Orchestra's musicianship and creative inventiveness without their instruments, through clapping, body percussion and beatboxing. Hear more from Anna on HandsFree below.

Fiddler and composer Aidan O'Rourke worked with An Tobar, The Tobermory Arts Centre to create Tat-1, inspired by the first transatlantic telephone cable which ran from Aidan’s hometown, Oban on the west coast of Scotland to Newfoundland, Canada. Hear Aidan talk more about his piece from 20x12 below.

Composer Mark-Anthony Turnage partnered with the Irene Taylor Trust ‘Music in Prisons’ scheme, composing for a group of prisoners from HMP Lowdham Grange. Beyond This presents music as a powerful vehicle for change, and enables prisoners to contribute positively to New Music 20x12. For Turnage, being part of the Cultural Olympiad was a career highlight.

"As a sports fan, I know that music doesn’t often cross over into the sporting arena. Having the opportunity to work on this commission will see the music crossing over into other arenas, allowing many more people who may not have seen or heard the new work to do so. I really enjoy it when people in different spheres get to see what I do. It won’t be the usual contemporary crowd but a whole new and culturally diverse group of people. I am really proud to be on the list with other such interesting projects"


Beyond This Manuscript

The 20x12 series was the starting gun for what is now known as New Music Biennial. PRS Foundation's landmark new music festival continues to feature brand new commissions from across all genres and musical styles: from classical and chamber opera to jazz, folk and electronic, by some of the most exciting composers and music creators in the UK today.

The NMC catalogue is all the richer thanks to the 60+ inspiring new works that span the last 10 years of the series. Earlier this year, to celebrate this milestone in our partnership, we re-issued ten selected works from the NMC catalogue available to download at a  discounted price. You can purchase it from our shop here.

20x12 was delivered by PRS Foundation in partnership with BBC Radio 3, London 2012, NMC Recordings and a wide range of generous funders who supported the outstanding commissions which continue to contribute to the cultural legacy of London 2012. 

Buy our New Music 20x12 Bundle

NMC's Discover platform is created in partnership with  ISM Trust.

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