Rihanna to Join Jay-Z, Stephen Fry in Olympics Festival

Recording artist Rihanna arrives for the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. Photographer: Francis Specker/Bloomberg

Rihanna and Jay-Z will be the two headline acts in the popular music lineup for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The pair will star in the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012 (June 23-24) a month before the Games, said organizers of the Olympics cultural festival, releasing the program at a news conference today. Comedians Stephen Fry and Tim Minchin will be among other entertainers cropping up in venues across Britain.

“There will be absolutely something for everyone: from Beethoven to Jay-Z, from Shakespeare to Mike Leigh,” Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the news conference in the Tower of London. Leigh is a film director.

The festival organizers conveyed the size and scope of the event.

“The London 2012 Festival will be the biggest cultural celebration in our lifetime,” said Royal Opera House Chief Executive Tony Hall, who chairs the Cultural Olympiad board.

Hall said more than 18 million people had already taken part in 9,000 performances and almost as many workshops.

The U.K. is rolling out dozens of arts events around the Games, which run from July 27 to Aug. 12. Some have been long planned and some commissioned as part of a four-year, 97 million pound ($157 million) cultural program.

Other headliners of Hackney Weekend -- set to draw an estimated 100,000 fans -- are Florence + the Machine, Jack White, David Guetta and Tinie Tempah.

Opening Bells

On the opening day of the Games, Martin Creed (the artist who in 2008 had runners sprint through Tate Britain) will set athletics aside and have people in the U.K. ring a bell -- a bicycle bell, cowbell, church bell, or ringtone -- at 8 a.m.

“The Navy has just signed up,” said Ruth McKenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad and 2012 London Festival. “They’re all going to ring ships’ bells.”

That evening, Daniel Barenboim will conduct the West Eastern Divan Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the final concert in a complete Beethoven cycle.

Artist Jeremy Deller has created a life-sized inflatable model of Stonehenge that people of all ages can bounce on. It will be deployed all around the U.K.

In the two days before the Games, the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simon Rattle and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra play Wynton Marsalis’s “Swing Symphony,” a tribute to jazz legends (July 25-26).

Dudamel's Orchestra

Scottish classical-music aficionados won’t be left out: On June 21, Gustavo Dudamel and his 200-strong Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela will play outside Stirling Castle, joined by a group of young Scottish players from deprived areas.

“Jerusalem” actor Mark Rylance will approach London’s pedestrians using Shakespearean verse. He’ll ask the time, then lapse into “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

The World Shakespeare Festival, which just started, will be the most extensive event of its kind ever held. More than 50 arts organizations worldwide -- including the Iraqi Theatre Company and Brazil’s Companhia BufoMecanica, which fuses Shakespeare with circus acts and multimedia -- will give their interpretation of the plays.

In visual arts, the Serpentine Gallery will stage an exhibition of Yoko Ono (June 19 - Sept. 9). Ono will show film and performance work and create an installation called ‘Smile’ that will invite all to upload a smiling photograph of themselves, or have one taken in a purpose-built booth outside the gallery.

Dance Lovers

Dance lovers will get a month-long season of Pina Bausch: 10 works performed back to back by her Tanztheater Wuppertal which were created for the Olympics and inspired by the cities she traveled to (“World Cities 2012,” June 6-July 9).

And in “Metamorphosis,” seven choreographers including Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon will produce works inspired by Titian for the Royal Ballet to perform. Sets will be designed by artists including Chris Ofili and Mark Wallinger.

Today’s Muse highlights include: Martin Gayford reviews Ron Mueck’s art show in London: Rich Jaroslovsky on Kindle; Jason Harper on the Ford Taurus SHO.

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