The London Philharmonic Orchestra has finished recording 205 separate national anthems to be used for next year’s Olympic Games.
Recording began last April with Afghanistan’s national anthem and after playing each one alphabetically, the final tune has been performed this week with Zimbabwe.
In total, it took 52 hours to record all of the music at Abbey Road Studios in London, with musicians given ten to 12 minutes to sight read and record each anthem.
Each anthem, under Olympic guidelines, must be between 60 and 90 seconds long and they must be original arrangements owing to legal but also creative reasons.
Conductor and composer Philip Sheppard told the Independent that now it is down to each country to approve the recording.
“It’s like having 205 film executive producers looking over your shoulder,” he said.
Other challenges faced by the composer saw a heavy cutting job on the Uruguay national anthem, which not only runs for seven minutes, but also has seven different tunes.
Uganda has the shortest anthem at just eight bars, which he had to extend.
Mr Sheppard was also required to dig around for some of the anthems that had never been recorded before. The only version of Bhutan’s anthem seemed to be a field recording of a man signing it in a temple, he explained.
Furthermore, in the time it has taken for all 205 recordings to be made, a new country has been created (South Sudan) and Libya’s National Transitional Council has replaced its anthem, which praises the Gaddafi regime.
This tune has been changed in time and the 36-person orchestra recorded the 1951 anthem Libya, Libya, Libya.
While only a few of the tunes will be played as a medal ceremony, every single one will be sounded at the welcoming ceremonies for both the Olympics and the Paralympics.
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