Sting Giving His Songs the Royal Treatment On Orchestra Tour

Clive Bard

Sting says his upcoming symphonic tour is "basically going after the fun" in making music.

"I'm having the time of my life," the Police man tells about his summer trek with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, which begins June 2 in Vancouver and crosses North America through July, including a pair of shows at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. "The arrangements are fun. The orchestra's having fun, and I"m sure the audience will, too."

Sting says he and Royal Philharmonic Maestro Steven Mercurio are currently sorting through versions of 40 of his Police and solo songs that were "farmed out" to veteran arrangers such as Rob Mathes, Dave Hartley, Vince Mendoza and Michel Legrand, among others. "I've always said a good song will survive almost anything," he says, "and some of these things were ripped off wholesale from classical music, anyway." Sting -- who was inspired to do the tour after performing with orchestras in Chicago and Philadelphia -- says he's been pleased to find that the repertoire is living up to that expectation, from Sergei Prokofiev-influenced "Russians" to a rendition of the Police's "Next to You" that he says "sounds amazing...really fun and really rocking, and it was a total surprise to me.

"One of my things was I didn't want the orchestra just sitting behind me sawing whole notes on a pop ballad," adds Sting, who will also have a core quartet on the road and plans to play some guitar and harmonica "if I can work up the courage" during the shows. "That is deadly boring to me and probably deadly boring to them and the audience. I wanted the orchestra to be a very important rhythmic element to the music, and so the music would be challenging them rhythmically, if not technically. All the arrangements have that in mind. I want the orchestra to work really hard, and they enjoy that."

Sting plans to record and film "some landmark shows" during the tour, possibly for future release. He's also hoping the tour will "inspire" some new songwriting, though he's also working on a musical that he says is "way in the future" and plans to do some holiday concerts featuring the music of his 2009 album "If On a Winter's Night...."

Sting is also preparing for his May 13 benefit concert for he and wife Trudie Styler's Rainforest Fund, with Lady Gaga, Sir Elton John and Dame Shirley Bassey schedule to perform. "Everybody's titled," notes Sting, adding that he's "the lowest on the rank because I'm only a Commander (of the British Empire). But it's going to be a nice show, a good show. We just choose the most disparate elements in popular music and try to weld them together and see what happens...and (Lady Gaga) is game for everything. She's the biggest star in the world at the moment, and she's having fun, which is really what it's about."


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