Stewart Copeland eager to reinvent the music of The Police at the world premiere of “Police Deranged for Orchestra”


The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Stewart Copeland’s “Police Deranged for Orchestra” Friday world premiere with the San Diego Symphony marks a complete moment for the star drummer-turned-songwriter.

In 1971, at the age of 19, Copeland, born in Virginia and raised in Lebanon, moved from London to San Diego after completing his first year of college in England. He enrolled at California Western University – which was located on the campus of what is now Point Loma Nazarene University – and also studied at the School of Performing Arts downtown.

“I lived at the end of Del Monte Street in Ocean Beach and played music with friends at keggers and school parties,” Copeland, 69, recalls. “I would love to say I was surfing off Point Loma, but the Pacific Ocean is rough compared to the Mediterranean!”

He credits his musical composition teacher here, Dr Mary K. Phillips, for setting him off on a road which – after The Police – saw him write numerous sheet music for orchestral films, concertos, operas and more. at least one ballet. His first film score, for “Rumble Fish” directed by Francis Ford Coppola, earned him a Golden Globe nomination in 1984.

“Opera is where I really go, because it’s the most fun a songwriter can have with their clothes,” five-time Grammy Award-winning Copeland said by phone Monday from his home in Los Angeles.

“I had a new opera that was due to debut in 2020 and another that was due to debut in 2021, but they were both postponed for a year due to the pandemic. After my concert in San Diego, I will head straight to the city of Weimar, Germany, where my opera “Electric Saint” – based on the real-life rivalry between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison – will open in September. “

Reinventing the music of The Police

But first comes “Police Deranged for Orchestra”. Its pending world premiere at the San Diego Symphony’s new $ 85 million Rady Shell in Jacobs Park has Copeland giddy with excitement, both for the music and the venue.

“I have browsed Rady Shell, online, and can’t wait to get there in person,” he said.

“Before going to play a show, I first have it on Google Map in 3D and I walk the streets so to speak. Unfortunately, Rady Shell is so new that it is not yet in Google Maps. If you search for it on Google, it shows up as a field. It is a fantastic place. Places like this are the reason we play music.

Copeland formed The Police with bassist-vocalist Sting in 1977. The trio’s original guitarist was replaced later that year by Andy Summers. By the early 1980s, the group had grown into one of the greatest rock groups in the world – and one of the most imaginative and forward-looking.

Police imploded in 1984, then reunited for three shows at a stadium in 1986. The band did not perform again until a reunion tour in 2007 and 2008 that included a show in San Diego in what is now. the North Island Credit Union Amphitheater.

Sting and Summers are understandably proud of their work in The Police, with worldwide album sales of 75 million. Copeland, who rates the prospects of another reunion at no more than “3%,” is eager to breathe new life into the trio’s repertoire.

He did this for the first time with his 2006 documentary film, “Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out”. For his soundtrack, he combined studio and live recordings of various police favorites to add new twists to familiar songs.

“I digitized 52 hours of our music, then cut them up with a scalpel,” he explained. “I ended up with seven ‘deranged’ police tunes, where I not only played with the form of the songs, but found lost guitar licks, alternate solos and vocals, and Sting harmonies. Then I rearranged everything using (the digital audio workstation) Pro Tools.

“This brings us to this orchestral concert, which was inspired by my 2019 tour of Germany, ‘Lights Up the Orchestra’, which included some of my film scores and Police songs. For ‘Police Deranged for Orchestra’, the half of the songs will be ‘deranged’, for which I did all the orchestrations, and the other half will be the original arrangements, which I also orchestrated.

Prince meets Paul McCartney

Friday’s concert will feature the San Diego Symphony playing with Copeland on drums, band veteran Paul McCartney, guitarist Rusty Anderson, bass virtuoso Armand Sabal-Lecco and three vocalists – Ashley Tamar (best known for her work with Prince), Carmel Helene and Amy Keys.

Together they will perform a combination of Police hits and deep album tracks that should appeal to both casual and devoted fans. Copeland’s release comes 11 years after Sting’s world tour and album “Symphonicities”, which also featured orchestral versions of Police songs, albeit with a somewhat different slant.

“When music has a nostalgic connection to it, there is an emotional push for the audience and the artist,” said Copeland, who was featured as a composer and performer at the 2009 La Jolla SummerFest. Music Society.

“For a Mahler concert, the audience has to sit quietly, listen and silence the (expletive). But it is different. It is a celebration. And if everyone who attends is dancing at tables and throwing popcorn, that’s a good thing! “

In the heat of the moment while touring with The Police, Copeland combined impressive technical skills with a tempo-boosting enthusiasm that sometimes annoyed Sting.

Does Copeland need to temper his playing style when teaming up with an orchestra, both in terms of dynamics and tempo, and because the orchestra cannot suddenly react to a fill of drums or others? spontaneous and instantaneous musical events?

“In fact, they can adapt,” he replied. “This part is doable. The conductor and I work closely together, because I am. He sets (the tempos) and I try to stay with him, because the orchestra follows him. But if I start to push him, he listens to me too. And since I dominate the auditory spectrum, it follows me.

“But, as far as the volume goes, I have to completely reorganize the drums that I do with a rock band when I play with an orchestra. At the first rehearsal I did with the Seattle Symphony, everyone said, “We can’t hear the orchestra at all! I said, “Let me play real quiet. It’s been a long road and I had to figure it out and there are all kinds of great benefits to (me) playing (softer).

“First, no one has a headache. Second, the drums sound great. And, three, all the technique I have acquired since I started playing drums at age 9 – paradiddles and flamacos – which have no place in rock’n’roll, come into play. game when you are with an orchestra and all its subtle textures. I am therefore free to use whatever vocabulary the drums are capable of.

Additionally, Copeland noted, playing with an orchestra allows him to improvise more freely while playing the drums.

“With the orchestra, I know exactly where they are, musically,” he said. “They are on the page. And what makes the music so great is their buy-in to what’s on the page. So I know exactly where they are which means I can go anywhere. I can take a left turn and it frees me up to be really creative. The curve of my life in groups is that I’ve never played the same way twice. Because the drummer is different from the composer, who is careful and considerate. The drummer just hits things …

“Being able to improvise while the orchestra is playing in such a solid way means I can take it to different places in my playing. I can push it up, pull it back, go under and land. directly above.

Copeland chuckled.

“I saw Sting recently,” he said. “I told him, ‘I’m playing softer.’ And he got very excited!

“Police disturbed for the orchestra” by Stewart Copeland

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Or: The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, 200 Marina Park Way, downtown

Tickets: $ 36 to $ 120

Telephone: (619) 235-0804

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