Disney Concert Hall Road To Music Marks Its 10th Year

Rob Lowman

25 in New York City. (Photo: Kevin Mazur, WireImage) Singer/songwriter was joined by a small gathering of musicians in a 260-seat venue Writing for other characters’ voices “freed me up” to craft new songs, Sting says New tunes showcase folk textures and propel story informed by Sting’s youth SHARE 8327 CONNECT 63 TWEET COMMENTEMAILMORE NEW YORK Who will play Sting on Broadway next year? That was the burning question posed sort of Wednesday night at the Public Theater, as the pop veteran launched a 10-night run of benefit concerts introducing songs “inspired by” his first musical, The Last Ship, due to arrive on the Main Stem in fall 2014. Billed as “An Evening With Sting: The Last Ship,” the show placed the international star in the Public’s 260-seat Anspacher Theater, where he explained to an audience including fan-club members and lottery winners how he conceived his virgin project as a musical-theater composer/lyricist. Set in Northeast England, where he grew up, it features as its hero a man who is, like Sting, the son of a shipyard worker, who leaves his small community and remains “very ambivalent about where he comes from.” His name is Gideon not a far cry, Sting wryly noted, from his own given name, Gordon (Sumner). “There’s some autobiography there,” he said. But not too much. Sting’s newly released album, also titled The Last Ship and featuring songs from the upcoming musical, is his first collection of new tunes in a decade. It came to fruition, he told the crowd, only after he was freed from writer’s block by the concept of crafting songs to be delivered by other people, representing different perspectives. He likened the consequent outpouring of music to “projectile vomiting.” His set list at the Public where he was joined by 14 other musicians and vocalists, a number of them also natives of Northern England featured at least one song that hadn’t made the cut for the stage project (but is on the album): Practical Arrangement, a bittersweet duet written for Meg, the feisty single mom who is Gideon’s love interest, and a rival for her affections. The wispy-voiced Jo Lawry sang the parts of Meg and Peggy, another female character, while a droll, animated Jimmy Nail assisted Sting with the male roles. Sting prefaced several songs with explanations of how they fit into the plot, but the mood was generally as informal as his dress: a working man’s jeans and T-shirt. Like the songs on Sting’s 1991 album, The Soul Cages, also inspired by his childhood and his relationship with his late father, the new tunes liberally incorporated the singer/songwriter’s native folk textures. They also showcased his usual conspicuous sophistication, shifting moods and rhythms in this case, to help distinguish the characters and propel the narrative. The Celtic-flavored romp We’ve Got Now’t Else was immediately recognizable as a production number, as was Shipyard, a song written to introduce various characters among them a “pompous” laborer with literary aspirations, whom Sting was “born to play,” he joked.

advertisement Twenty-one-year-old Chelsea Hebert has dreamed of singing on stage with Michael Buble since high school. On Wednesday, the South Windsor natives dream came true. I would tell my best friend Olivia all the time that I was going to sing on stage with (Michael Buble), Hebert said. Its always been such a dream of mine. Wednesday night marked Heberts fourth Michael Buble concert, and her seats at Hartfords XL Center were closer to the stage than she had ever been before. Herbert figured, being so close… nows my chance. So she made a sign that read, Let Me Sing With You Mr. Buble! and brought it along with her to the concert. Buble obliged and invited Hebert on stage to sing with him. He even let her pick the song. I dont even remember going up there, Hebert said. She said that she and her godmother, who attended the concert with her, were in complete shock for the rest of the night. Hebert chose to sing Feeling Good, a song she had been practicing during the days leading up to the concert, just in case she was asked to sing on stage.

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Now, I dont think a single in person in L.A. would change a single molecule of it, Lavin said. I think that its a real piece of evidence of the importance of good architecture to the city. When Borda was brought into the Phil in 2000, there still was very little vision of how the hall would be used. One of her first decisions was to delay the opening by 10 months. It is absolutely critical that when the Hall opened, it was to be completely prepared, she says. The three days of opening galas proved to be an immense and unprecedented success in the classical music world. But the Phils president is quick to note that before the glamour parties, there was a week of free concerts for kids, teachers, volunteers, seniors and those who worked on the hall some 18,000 people in all. Our commitment is to be an important intersection between the artistic imperative and the social imperative, says Borda. That has been evident in the last decade by the Phils sponsorship of educational outreach programs and YOLA. Along the way, the organization has also become better off financially. Weve had a strong but balanced budget since 2003, says Borda. You cant have a healthy artistic institution if you dont have a healthy financial plan to back it up. Disney Hall is also a key component in the very complicated ongoing revitalization of downtown, says Alexander.