BT Press Releases

DC11-263                                                                                 October 27, 2011

BT River of Music welcomes the world to London

Half a million people will have a free London 2012 experience next summer

The London 2012 Festival, Serious, the music and event production company, and BT today announced BT River of Music – two days of music events that will take place on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 July 2012, the weekend before the Olympic Games open, with BT confirmed as title sponsor. BT River of Music will offer music lovers of all ages the opportunity to take part in celebrating the build up to the London 2012 Games, with free access to events over the weekend.

BT River of Music will be one of the highlights of the London 2012 Festival, a 12 week UK- wide celebration featuring leading artists from around the world. The spectacular weekend of free music from the 205 Olympic & Paralympic nations will take place at iconic sites along the river Thames, welcoming the world to London. The event is created and produced by Serious for the London 2012 Festival with significant funding support from the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, Arts Council England, British Council and BT.

Six stages located across London will represent the five continents – Asia in Battersea Park, Africa in Jubilee Gardens, Europe in Trafalgar Square and Somerset House, the Americas at the Tower of London, and Oceania in the Greenwich Old Royal Naval College. The rich variety of music over the weekend will include well-known names and unexpected collaborations.

Artists confirmed so far include Scissor Sisters, Wynton Marsalis, Naturally 7, Baaba Maal, Angelique Kidjo, Zakir Hussain, and Andy Sheppard.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad & London 2012 Festival, said: “Thanks to the support of our partners BT, the Olympic Lottery Distributor, Arts Council England and the British Council the BT River of Music will be a fantastic celebration of world-class live music for the London 2012 Festival.”

Claire Whitaker, Director, Serious said: “BT River of Music will be an incredible celebration of world-class live music the weekend before the start of the Games. We will be working with the most exciting artists from across the world, the very best of emerging British talent and staging some unique collaborations during the weekend. This will be once in a lifetime experience not to be missed and a fabulous occasion for the whole family to enjoy.”

Suzi Williams, director, BT Group Marketing and Brand, said: “As a Premier Partner of the London 2012 Festival, we understand that London 2012 is about more than sport – it’s about people experiencing the amazing atmosphere the Games will bring to the capital and creating their personal Olympic and Parlaympic memories. Through BT River of Music we’ll be giving people a fantastic and free London 2012 experience next year.”

Rt Hon Dame Janet Paraskeva, Chair of the Olympic Lottery Distributor said: “I am delighted that National Lottery funding is supporting this diverse and exciting event which is bringing together such a wide range of artists and musical styles. Our support for the London 2012 Festival aims to bring cultural events to as wide an audience as possible.”

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said: “This fantastic project is set to reach thousands of people in the Olympic year, introducing musical talent from around the world alongside more familiar names. We think it will leave a fantastic legacy for music and musicians in the UK through the international collaborations being formed, and are really excited and proud to be involved with it.”

BT River of Music in 2012 will mark the culmination of a range of regional work across the UK - projects such as Coastal Voices, bringing together vocal groups along the Jurassic Coast of Devon and Dorset to sing Nick Cave songs and Saxophone Massive, featuring 200 massed saxophones at Somerset House. Additional support for participatory projects has been received from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and City Bridge Trust.

An audience of half a million people is expected over the two-day festival weekend.

Tickets are free but some sites will require ticketed entry. Ticketing information will be announced in May 2012 and people can sign up now at for information and news.

Media enquiries
For BT River of Music media enquiries, please contact Sally Reeves
+44 (0)1223 864710 / +44 (0)7790 518756 /

Notes to editors:

About BT
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to our customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

BT is the official communications services partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

In the year ended 31 March 2011, BT Group’s revenue was £20,076m with profit before taxation of £1,717m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit

About the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival
The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.
The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, bringing leading artists from all over the world together from 21 June 2012 in this UK-wide festival – a chance for everyone to celebrate London 2012 through dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation.

Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.

For more details visit

About Serious
The genesis of BT River of Music began 10 years ago when Serious created and produced five epic stages around the Serpentine for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebration. Since then, we have been developing the idea that has finally become BT River of Music bringing together artists from across the world across six fabulous stages.

An established innovator, Serious is one of the UK’s leading producers and curators of contemporary music. Our work is characterised by two fundamental principles – artistic excellence and partnership. We place musicians and artists at the heart of everything we do. The events we produce range from major concerts and festivals, including the London Jazz Festival in association with BBC Radio 3 in its 19th edition this year, and national tours through to learning and participation programmes

For more information visit and

About the Olympic Lottery Distributor
The Olympic Lottery Distributor is investing National Lottery money to fund the London 2012 Games. It is providing £16.6 million to support the Cultural Olympiad and is a principal funder of River of Music. It is also providing funding of £3.42 million to fund the network of Big Screens across the UK and will be providing up to £1.8 billion for the infrastructure of the Olympic Park and other Olympic facilities across the UK.

More information about the Olympic Lottery Distributor can be found at

BT River of Music is supported by:
The National Lottery through The Olympic Lottery Distributor
Arts Council England
British Council

With additional funding from:
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
City Bridge Trust

BT River of Music stages are produced in partnership with -
Asia stage at Battersea Park - Wandsworth Council
Africa stage at Jubilee Gardens - Southbank Centre
Europe stage at Trafalgar Square – Mayor of London
Europe stage at Somerset House - Somerset House Trust
Americas stage at the Tower of London – Barbican, Historic Royal Palaces, English Heritage
Oceania stage at Greenwich Old Royal Naval College - Greenwich Foundation

BT River of Music regional projects are produced in partnership with -
Celtic Connections
Lighthouse Poole
Norfolk & Norwich Festival
The Sage Gateshead
Theatre Royal Stratford East