London 2012: Cultural Olympiad to feature Music Nation

Rufus Wainwright Rufus Wainwright's work on Shakespeare's sonnets will feature

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The BBC has unveiled plans for a weekend festival celebrating orchestral music across the UK as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Music Nation will take place on 3 and 4 March next year, with related performances during the preceding week.

It is part of Festival 2012 and will include Rufus Wainwright's setting of five Shakespearean sonnets.

The Canadian American singer-songwriter and composer's work will be performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The idea is to stage performances in 45 venues across the UK - among them, the first joint performance of the Ulster and RTE Orchestras in Belfast.

"Flash mob" performances of excerpts from The Marriage of Figaro will occur across Wales.

In Glasgow, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra will be joined by artists including Nicola Benedetti for a celebration of sporting and musical heroes.

More than 65,000 tickets will be available for the free and paid for events and 25,000 people are expected to take part.

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BBC Radio 3 will broadcast live coverage throughout the weekend with additional programming on BBC Radio 2, BBC Scotland, BBC Wales, BBC Northern Ireland and BBC local radio.

The festival will take in jazz, folk, urban and world music along with the orchestral mainstays while workshops and tutorials will be held to give people the chance to take part.

Music Nation will be staged ahead of the London 2012 Festival next summer. It is one of the BBC's events to celebrate the Cultural Olympiad, alongside the recently announced Radio 1 Hackney weekend and the 2012 Proms season.

Director of BBC Audio & Music Tim Davie said the BBC was proud to have brought people together to create Music Nation, a first for the UK orchestral sector.

He said: "It will showcase the hugely important role that orchestra, choirs and venues play in communities and create an amazing weekend of fantastic live music."

London 2012 Cultural Olympiad director Ruth Mackenzie said: "With events all over the country, we hope as many people as possible will join in with Music Nation as they prepare for the London 2012 Festival and a fantastic summer of cultural celebration."

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