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Stewart Copeland

San Antonio Symphony rocks out with score by Stewart Copeland

Stewart Copeland is still best known as the dynamic drummer of rock band The Police, which he founded in 1977. But Copeland walked away from his fame as an international rocker in the mid-1980s to pursue a career of a different sort: composer. He’s since composed for ballets, operas, TV and film, including Rumble Fish for which he won a Golden Globe. In 2015, he debuted an orchestral work, The Tyrant’s Crush, which was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony and features classical instruments as well as Copeland’s drums. After hearing it live, he updated the work and now is taking it on the road, including to the Alamo City where he’ll partner with the San Antonio Symphony on Nov. 4-5. It’s not Mozart, he admits, but it’s lots of fun. “If they are season ticket holders, I hope they enjoy the different use to which I put their orchestra. If they are rock ‘n rollers, I hope they enjoy seeing what a big, bad orchestra can do,” Copeland says. “There’s no reason why 60 guys can’t burn down the building.”

San Antonio Symphony rocks out with score by Stewart Copeland

Does The Tyrant’s Crush vary from city to city?
As a result of Pittsburgh, I did go back into the score. Living composers can’t get enough stage time to hear the results of their piece. Every time it’s performed, you hear ways that it can be improved. I did a lot of cleanup. Now, what I do (on the drums) can differ from night to night. What the orchestra does is play it from the page—that’s their whole ethos. That guy in the second violin chair, it’s his status in life to play the music as it’s written. The way he connects with the other 60 people on stage is by getting it right because he knows that cello player or bassist has a line that only works if he does his thing.

Was composing a concerto a lot different than a movie score?
The techniques overlap. Scoring a film is a craft—you serve the director and his very specific orchestral needs—so you’re serving someone else’s artistic vision. Composing a symphony or concerto is totally different but I use the skills that I picked up as a hired composer—how you communicate on the page, how you use the orchestra—all of those chops came from 20 years of film composing.

This isn’t your typical concerto though?
The greater purpose of an orchestra is to keep the great masterpieces alive—Mozart, Mendelson and others. It’s important that the music survives. But, it’s also important to get a new audience every generation and to do that you’ve got to introduce new music. That’s where I come in. My music hasn’t proven itself with centuries of time passing but the orchestras have to get new blood in there. I don’t come from a conservatory. I come from a different place and a different form so my concerto is written with my sensibilities as a rock ‘n’ roll musician.

And you’ve been in San Antonio before?
Yes, I’ve hung with those cats. We’re down. They nailed a piece of mine that they performed with a percussion ensemble out of Dallas last year. This will be the first time I’ll be on stage with them with my drums. I can’t wait.

Fact File
The Tyrant’s Crush

Nov. 4-5, with an open rehearsal on Nov. 4

Tobin Center for the Performing Arts 

Source: by Kathleen Petty

LiSting : since 2001

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