Europe’s next glimpse of Stewart Copeland’s Ben Hur is set for the stage of the historical Vienna Konzerthaus on Monday, March 6th 2017
“Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” is the 1925 epic silent black and white film with a new score by Police drummer, percussionist extraordinaire and composer Stewart Copeland.
Having premiered the first European performance of ‘Ben Hur, A Tale of the Christ’ in Luxembourg last June, as a consequence the audience response and the word of mouth amongst the Performing Arts Centers in Europe was so favorable that Stewart has been invited to perform his master work at the glorious Konzerthaus in Vienna on March 6th. The Radio Symphony Orchestra of the ORF will be performing his score to his edit of the 1925 black and white silent film of the same name at the famed venue, home to some of the greatest performances in music history. A radio simulcast will also be offered by ORF to the Austrian audience.
The Konzerthaus is a concert hall located in Austria, which opened in 1913. It is situated in the third district just at the edge of the first district in Vienna. Since it was founded it has always tried to emphasize both traditional and innovative musical styles.
The first European performance of Stewart Copeland’s “Ben Hur” was June 16th, 2016 at the Luxembourg Philharmonie. The Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte Concert Hall is a concert hall located on the Place de L’Europe in the City of Luxembourg. Opened in 2005, it now plays host to 400 performances each year and is one of the main concert halls in Europe.
Former Police drummer, Stewart Copeland visited Seattle February 29, 2016, to join Seattle Rock Orchestra as they accompanied the restored 1925 silent film, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, scored by Copeland. Seattle-based filmmaker Lynn Shelton joined Stewart for a post film discussion at The Paramount Theatre. See video below.
The LA Times raves about the “Ben Hur” performance in Northridge, CA:
Imagine a Venn diagram of silent film buffs, symphony aficionados and fans of the Police. It’s a niche demographic, but that appears to have been the audience drawn to this week’s performance of “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” the 1925 silent epic with a new score by Police drummer Stewart Copeland.
The Valley Performing Arts Center on the campus of Cal State Northridge wasn’t full during Wednesday night’s performance, but the crowd was full of life. From the in-your-face rock percussion announcing the familiar MGM lion to the final cymbal echoes ringing over the resurrection finale, Copeland commanded the audience’s attention and praise. A potent combination of the film’s still-fresh action sequences and Copeland’s sweaty, muscular performance couldn’t help but overwhelm, even if you weren’t enraptured.
Copeland, who has been scoring films since the Police disbanded — with notable early assignments for Francis Ford Coppola (“Rumble Fish”) and Oliver Stone (“Wall Street”) — first penned music for this “tale of the Christ” in 2009, for a live theatrical re-creation of some of its iconic sequences. He then took the film itself and had it polished to a shine, whittling it down to a tight 85 minutes, and adapted his earlier material into a score, which he premiered two years ago at the Virginia Arts Festival.
While Copeland has earned his badge as a composer, it’s his drumstick prowess that takes the spotlight in “Ben-Hur.” With his drum kit and jungle of rhythmic toys planted at the front of the stage (showing some mercy to the cellists’ cochleas with plexiglass sound walls), it’s effectively a concerto for rock drums and orchestra (flawlessly conducted by Richard Kaufman) — to the point where Copeland’s arena-style smashing swallowed all but the Pacific Symphony’s brass section for long stretches.
“Concerto” gives the wrong idea of form, though. This is programmatic prog rock. A concept album come to life, exploring the exploits of Judah Ben-Hur in a series of melodic ideas firmly rooted in comfortable Western, rock ‘n’ roll tonality with dashes of Eastern spice. Read more…
Video teaser for “Ben Hur”: