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Stewart Copeland

Stewart Copeland on being a rockstar in a classical world

Stewart Copeland is a busy guy.

Stewart Copeland on being a rockstar in a classical world

When Downtown spoke to Copeland in late March, he’d just gotten off a 3-hour conference call, score-doctoring his Adolfo Bioy Casares-inspired opera, The Invention of Morel.

This same conversation was squeezed onto his calendar between two weeks on the road supporting his rock/jazz/chamber music quintet Off the Score and four West Coast dates performing his live score to the 1925 silent film Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. This followed hot on the heels of his debuted percussive concerto The Tyrant’s Crush, which took place not long after debuting new orchestrations for his Edgar Allen Poe-inspired opera The Cask of Amontillado at Dixon Place, which happened simultaneously with a New Opera Showcase workshop of Morel at Trinity Church.

Copeland has spent the last 30 years composing music for orchestra, film, TV, opera and ballet. He’s also a world-renowned drummer, an inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a five-time Grammy-winner with the ‘80s band that originally made him famous, The Police.

It’s tempting to assume there are two Stewart Copelands: professional orchestral composer and performer by day, jamming rock star by night. But the two are really one and the same. Copeland is that rare bird of rockstar in a classical world, a wide, wild fury of flailing arms, eye teeth, polyrhythms and flying drumsticks infiltrating the lush, regimented tradition of the symphony. Copeland is the guy that brings a trashcan to a concerto.

On April 8 at the Schimmel Center at Pace University‘s downtown campus, Copeland’s Off the Score quintet brings him together with famed classical pianist Jon Kimura Parker, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra violinist Yoon Kwon, classical/jazz double bassist Marlon Martinez and electronic valve instrumentalist Judd Miller for the final night of their spring tour. Program selections may include classical standards, Copeland originals, a modern interpretation of The Police and possibly Aphex Twin. A genre-bending hybrid of charted music and jam session, Off the Score illustrates well how orchestral Copeland never strays too far from his rock roots.

Stewart Copeland on being a rockstar in a classical world

Downtown spoke with Copeland about this upcoming performance, the tension between art and commerce, Snoop Dogg and flouting expectation. He also gave us a tiny glimpse into what to expect next from him.

Your career is diverse and really complicated to describe. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, how do you introduce yourself?

Stewart Copeland: Father of seven. I guess “composer” is my day job right now. I still rock and roll [in the] evening for relaxation and recreation. But my day job is writing music for others to play.

Read the complete interview : by Kellie M. Walsh

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