With 2016 being an Olympic year (the Summer Games are due to begin in Rio in August), I thought I would start a series looking at various musical pieces that were created (or simply performed) for the Olympic Games over the years. Some great pieces have been brought to light because of the Games, and it will be fun to look at them.
The first piece I will look at is “Summon the Heroes”, composed by John Williams for the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. The 1996 games were especially important because it was the centennial of the modern Olympic Games (which began in 1896 in Athens). John Williams has actually composed four pieces for the Olympics. Besides “Summon the Heroes”, there is also: “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” for the 1984 games; “Olympic Spirit” in 1988 and finally “Call of the Champions” in 2002.
“Summon the Heroes” is a one-movement piece written for full orchestra, with a heavy emphasis on the brass. It has been reused many times since its Olympic debut (mostly as transition music going to and from commercial breaks during broadcasts of the Games) and is incredibly popular even today. During the piece, performers in the stadium recreate the Olympic Rings and the dove (a symbol of peace). I hope you enjoy this great piece of music and a look back at Olympic history. There will definitely be more to come! -Bex