Composer Jeff Rona Scores for 2008 Olympics Regatta

Film Music Magazine • July 1, 2008

Film composer Jeff Rona has composed “Songs of the Sea: The Regatta Suite” at the invitation of the International Olympics Committee and the City of Qingdao, host of the 2008 Olympics Regatta. The music will be the theme of the Olympic regatta competition.

On July 16, in Qingdao at the Olympic Village, Rona will conduct a 110 piece orchestra, traditional Chinese musicians and one of the country’s top sopranos in the first ever performance of the music. Rona has tapped renown poet David Whyte and singer/songwriter Lisa Gerrard (of Dead Can Dance) to create words as part of the concert. Rona will bring the production to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong following the Qingdao world premier.

“For as long as I can remember. I have truly loved the Olympics – the spirit of global friendship and competition. A chance to see the best of the best” says Rona.

“The Olympics are about being a part of the world,” he continued. “The IOC wanted music that had a universal sound, one that conveyed the scope and prestige of the games. Dongxiao Xu, conductor of the Qingdao Symphony and a musical director for the Regatta, was introduced to my film scores quite by accident. He felt that this style was what they wanted the Olympic concert to feel like. I met with him both in Los Angeles and China, along with other musical and cultural directors for the city and the games, who were given the task of commissioning a composer for the concert – and it all went very well.”

Rona traveled to the seaside town of Qingdao in January to tour the just completed Olympic Village, meet with the artistic directors, and get a feel for what he might compose. During his stay he walked through small village street markets, sat in a 1000 year old Taoist monastery and looked at the harbor where the races will take place. He visited all the concert venues throughout the city, dined with the local residents, and met with everyone involved in the regatta. He also went to Beijing to see the Olympic facilities, meet with leading Chinese musicians, tour the Great Wall of China. He also traveled to Xi’an to see the Terra Cotta warriors and travel through the country side to the Famen Temple – one of the holiest Buddhist shrines in China. All to get a better sense of a country most westerners know little about outside of politics.

Upon his return to Los Angeles, he began to sketch the 12 pieces that would make up the Regatta Suite. He returns to China in July to record the Suite before the tour begins in the 2 weeks leading up to the opening of the games.

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