With just 73 days to go until the opening ceremony of the London Olympic and Paralympic games, the anticipation around the UK, and indeed the world, is building. One of the key ways in which LOCOG, who are staging the games, are getting young people excited about the games is through the mascots for the Olympics and Paralympics respectively, Wenlock and Mandeville. Although many UK residents (and long-time readers of this blog) will be familiar with this dynamic duo already, some readers may be interested to know that Wenlock is named after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock where the mid-19th century Wenlock Games, which served as inspiration for the whole Olympic movement, were staged, and Mandeville is named after the Buckinghamshire town of Stoke Mandeville, where pioneering spinal specialist Dr Ludwig Guttmann set up the Stoke Mandeville Games in the 1940s, a forerunner of the modern Paralympics.
The story goes that Wenlock and Mandeville were created from the last drops of British steel used to make beams for the new Olympic Stadium, and since their unveiling two years ago they have had a number of adventures in animated form in a series of films based on a story by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo. The last of these films, Rainbow to the Games, has just started airing in more than 100 Odeon cinemas around the UK before selected films.
Author Morpurgo said, “The London 2012 Mascots were created for children in order to inspire them to choose sport and connect with the magic of the Games. I wanted to write a story full of adventure and heroism, so that children could experience the wonder of Wenlock and Mandeville as they make their journey across the UK towards the London 2012 Games, and Rainbow to the Games is the thrilling conclusion to this journey.”
The music for the 15-minute film was written by British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones, and naturally he scored it in Sibelius, before it was recorded under the baton of Barnaby Smith with the British Film Orchestra and VOCES8 at Angel Studios and Abbey Road in London. Thomas told me that it was a very exciting project, and as always, he couldn’t have done it without Sibelius.
Rainbow to the Games is playing now at selected Odeon cinemas, and is also playing on British Airways flights in and out of the UK. You can also watch the whole film on YouTube.