Music goes hand in hand with any celebration and the Olympics, like nothing else, is a celebration of sports and athleticism. Every two years we are treated to the best competition the world has to offer. Along with the athletics, we are also treated to the best culture the host country has to offer. This year we get a close look at the musical history and customs of Russia.
Visitors to the Olympics will get the chance to enjoy over 500 hours of performances from notable Russian music and dance groups. Among the national musical art forms visitors can enjoy are Chukchi throat singing, Dagestan lezginka, Kuban Cossack tunes, and performances by maestro Yuri Bashmet. Celebrating local culture has long been a popular component of the Olympic Games, and this year gives Russia its first post-Soviet-era opportunity to showcase their nation.
In addition to the vast array of local Russian cultural presentations, musical giants from around the world will be gathered. Opera stars Barbar Frittoli and Erwin Schrott will perform, as well as pianist Denis Matsuev and renowned violinist Viktor Tretyakov. Appearances by flutist Massimo Merchelli, cellist Enrico Dindo, and the Kuss Quartet from Germany round out the festivities. These are just a few small pieces of the enormous influx of musical talent coming to Sochi for the lead-up to the Winter Olympics.
To supplement the already robust lineup of performers, the Sochi Organizing Committee ran a contest to perform in front of guests at the Olympic Games. Over 1,000 applications from 53 regions of Russia and 20 countries outside Russia competed. The winners were The Bis Band from Siberia, gymnast Valentia Apevalova from St. Petersburg, and the Harmonika Orchestra from Serbia.
The main music that accompanies the Olympic Games is as old as the modern Olympics themselves. The first Olympic theme, called Olympic Hymn, was introduced at the 1896 Athens Olympics and has been used many times since. Most years a new piece is composed in the host country and used throughout the Games. The best-known piece, at least here in the United States, is likely the 1984 Olympic Fanfare and Theme, written by John Williams for the Los Angeles Olympics. If you are thinking of an Olympic theme, you are probably thinking of that song.
Of course, there are many Olympic compositions to choose from, and with the winter games coming fast, you are sure to want to add an Olympic-themed piece to your next concert. Take a look at these Olympic pieces and join in this year’s celebration: