TELEVISION CRITICS GET STUNG
It may not sound as monumental as a Police 30-year reunion during the Grammy Awards, but the combination of Sting and the lute has already made history on the Billboard charts.
The former Police frontman has found a new beat and has also decided that learning how to play the ancient instrument would be a challenge that would inspire and help him with his creative process.
That challenge turned into Sting’s latest album Songs From the Labyrinth, a collection of tunes from an Elizabethan troubadour named John Dowland, that debuted at #1 on Billboard’s classical charts. And his desire to share his passion for playing the melancholy music has created a fascinating program for PBS as part of the acclaimed Great Performances series.
Sting: Songs From the Labyrinth, premiering Feb. 26TH, was filmed at Sting’s manor house in Italy. He explained that the locale was the perfect setting because “it is of the period, a Renaissance house. There we recreated the kind of place where that music was played. There were no concert halls [in the 1500’s], there were just rooms to play chamber music.”
At a gathering of television writers and critics from across the US and Canada, Sting recently performed an intimate concert to promote his PBS special. The Georgian Room at the posh Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena was lit with candles to set the mood for the 16th century lute music. “For me, they are the pop songs of their time. I relate to them in that way—beautiful melodies, fantastic lyrics, and great accompaniments.”
During a question-and-answer session, Sting made a case for Dowland’s melancholy tunes. “Melancholy is often confused with depression. Depression is a serious clinical disease many people suffer from. Melancholy is something different. I don’t think melancholy is a bad thing. I think it can be quite a useful emotion. It comes from self-reflection, comes from thinking about the state of the world and one’s position in it and why we’re here. I think we need more self-reflection in this time. All of us, from the president on down, need to reflect on where we are and where we’re going. And I think this is the music of self-reflection, so it’s timely.”
To please the rock fans in the group, Sting did play some contemporary hits: “Fields of Gold” and “Message in a Bottle.” And then he commented, “I never thought I’d play for a roomful of critics without dynamiting the place.”