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Legendary Drummer Stewart Copeland Premieres Percussion Concerto With Pittsburgh Symphony

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Tonight at Heinz Hall, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents the world premiere of famed percussionist Stewart Copeland’s “The Tyrant’s Crush” concerto.  Best known as drummer for the British rock group “The Police,” the five-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member actually got his start as a film composer.

As a film composer, Copeland says he learned a new style of playing music. 

“It teaches you a thing or two about how to make music because you have to be specific.  You have to go places an artist wouldn’t go,” Copeland explains.

While working as a film composer, he had to adjust to playing what he calls “music of the page.”  When playing rock and roll, Copeland says it’s all about playing “music of the ear,” listening and feeling the music.

“Music of the page is all about the eyes, and you connect with the music with a different part of your brain,” Copeland explains. 

Through working with a symphony, Copeland says it has allowed him to grow artistically by chatting with other symphony members before rehearsals.  Often times, Copeland says he arrives an hour early, just to mingle.

“I like it.  I like the feeling.  I like the atmosphere of exchanging ideas, and that’s where I’m learning a lot of stuff.”

Stewart explains his concerto as “an attempt to write a percussion concerto that isn’t a headache,” and credits his unique perspective to his rock and roll background.  By adding this perspective, an orchestra can be transformed from traditional to contemporary.

“An orchestra can be a powerful, modern instrument,” Copeland says.

The concerto tells a story in three movements, each with a different mood and rhythm.  However, Copeland says the story itself is only an aide. 

“It’s not about music, it’s about emotion.”

Copeland says he has been extremely impressed with the Pittsburgh Symphony thus far, and has a very positive prediction for the performance overall.  His mission?  To achieve beauty, and rock the house.

“This is really going to be good.”

“The Tyrant’s Crush” concerto will open tonight with an 8pm performance at Heinz Hall.  There will be a second performance Sunday afternoon at 2:30.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heardhere.