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Swedish Composer Wins Official Olympic Overture Competition


To set the mood for the pageantry of the Olympic Games in Beijing, a competition was held to select an official musical overture. More than 100 entries were received and The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Sport selected a composition by Swedish composer Robert Wells. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer is in Beijing and has the story.

Robert Wells and his "Rhapsody in Rock" orchestra perform classical, jazz and rock music around the world. The Beijing Olympics is not the first sporting event where his music will be prominently featured. His works have been heard at the world figure skating and world ice hockey championships, as well as at gymnastics and equestrian competitions.

Wells said he learned of the Olympics musical contest in 2006 and decided to enter. In March, the entries were cut to 30, in June only two remained, and Wells found out only in July that he was the winner.

"Finally getting here, it's a thrill and adventure. It's been a long journey and many, many sessions in the studio," he said.

Robert Wells told VOA Sports why he thinks he won.

"I think because I respect China's folk music," he said. "I still have the rock beat on that I love, kind of a rock touch. It's positive. I think it wakes up people if they're sitting in the stadium and starting new things, even the television viewers. I hope it affect them, like they're going to be happy, and it's really sports time.

The Olympic Overture begins with five tones to symbolize the Olympic rings.

Wells said the opening of the overture came to him very quickly; he just heard the sound in his head. He said it took two to three months to complete the full composition. He added, it was not difficult to incorporate Chinese elements, as he has been to China 22 times in the last eight years. Wells even does some teaching in China at a university on the east coast at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.

As the official TV theme music for the Summer Olympics, Wells says he was told his composition will be played more than 1,300 times during the Games. And he will perform live with a large orchestra during the second week of the Olympics on a special stage set up beside the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest.

"Of course it's a big thing to write music for the Olympics, but it's with a Chinese tradition, so I'm like a musical servant, you know," Wells said.

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