Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Police, Mahler and Sting; A Musical Journey

In the summer of 2010, Sting, solo pop star and former lead singer of the rock band Police, put together a CD of his songs re-imagined for orchestra.  Released Deutsche Grammophon (a traditional classical record label), "Symphonicities" is the rare occasion where pop music is re-arranged into classical works.  The name "Symphonicities" is a play on the name of the Police album "Synchronicity." 

Rob Mathes, who has worked with Elton John, Yo Yo Ma, Carly Simon and even Jay Z, was eventually tapped to do the arrangements for Sting's classical adventure.  The attached article illustrates Mathes' journey from son of a music teacher to Berklee College Of Music student to musical producer for the Kennedy Center Honors - and eventually to working with Sting as the Symphonicities Tour musical director.

Mathes wasn't initially interested in classical music as a youngster.  He recalls how a Berklee librarian mistakenly had given him a recording of  Gustav Mahler's Sixth Symphony conducted by Leonard Bernstein, instead of the John Coltrane recording he'd asked for.
Growing up in the 80's Mathes was a huge Police fan, but that librarian unwittingly helped him achieve a deeper appreciation of classical music which eventually led him on a career path he had not originally set out to do.  "Mahler literally led me to Sting," he says, and through friends and contacts Mathes eventually found his way to bridging his talents as classical composer/arranger and working with a pop music hero.

And while some who buy "Symphonicities" may not ever listen to Mahler, this is a step in the right direction to exposing a new audience classical music elements.  Perhaps a person not familiar with classical music, but is a Sting fan, will have a similar revelation Mr. Mathes had with the Mahler Sixth.  

Fresco is thinking about creating it's own opera... Novel?  TV show?  Movie?  There are all sorts of possibilities...

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