Composer, singer, actor, activist – Sting has won universal acclaim in all of these roles, but he defies easy labeling. He’s best described as an adventurer and risk-taker. As he himself has said, “I love to put myself in new situations. I’m not afraid to be a beginner.” Recorded on location at the magnificent Durham Cathedral near his hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in northern England, “Sting: A Winter’s Night…” conjures the moods and spirits of the season with a diverse collection of songs, carols and lullabies spanning the centuries. Also featured are some new songs, as well as Sting’s interpretation of classical favorites. “I’d say if I have a spirituality at all, it’s about music,” confesses Sting. “Sting: A Winter’s Night…” will broadcast on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances series in HD on Thanksgiving night, Thursday, November 26 at 9 p.m. EST (check local listings).
Watch a preview of the concert:
“Sting: A Winter’s Night…” captures the artist in the evocative setting of one of England’s most famous cathedrals. Standing on a peninsula overlooking the River Wear in County Durham, the 1,000 year-old UNESCO world heritage building is an iconic landmark of Northern England. Inside, the architecture and atmosphere are equally as inspiring, and it is in this setting that Sting is joined by guest musicians, including local Newcastle artists Kathryn Tickell (Northumbrian pipes and fiddle), Peter Tickell (fiddle) and Julian Sutton (Melodeon). Esteemed performers from around the world also include Dominic Miller (guitar), Vincent Ségal (cello), Scottish harpist Mary MacMaster, Ira Coleman (bass), Chris Gecker (trumpet), David Mansfield (violin and mandolin), Cyro Baptista, Bashiri Johnson and Rhani Krija (percussion), and vocalists Laila Biali, Lisa Fischer, Jo Lawry and Steven Santoro. Producer Robert Sadin conducts an ensemble of 35 musicians, which includes additional string and brass sections.
Featuring traditional music of the British Isles as its starting point, Sting and guest musicians interpret stirring, folk-based melodies including “The Snow it Melts the Soonest” (traditional Newcastle ballad), “Soul Cake” (traditional English “begging” song), “Christmas at Sea” (traditional Scottish song), “Gabriel’s Message” (14th century carol), “Balulalow” (lullaby by Peter Warlock) and “Now Winter Comes Slowly” (Henry Purcell). Two of Sting’s own compositions are also featured: “Lullaby for an Anxious Child” and “The Hounds of Winter,” which originally appeared on his previous release Mercury Falling. “Winter is a season I’ve always had an affinity for,” says Sting. “It’s certainly rich in terms of inspiration and materials.”
Born a milkman’s son in Newcastle, England, Sting met Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers, who formed The Police in 1977. The band quickly became a success in both the U.S. and the UK, scoring several No. 1 hits including Roxanne, Every Breath you Take, King of Pain and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic. The Police earned five Grammy Awards and two Brits, and in 2003, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With the release of Dream of the Blue Turtles in 1985, followed by Bring on the Night, Nothing Like the Sun, The Soul Cages, Ten Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling, Brand New Day, All This Time, Sacred Love and Songs from the Labyrinth, Sting has evolved into one of the world’s most distinctive and highly-respected solo performers, collecting an additional 11 Grammy Awards, two Brits, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, three Oscar nominations, Billboard Magazine’s Century Award and MusiCares Person of the Year for 2004.
A production of Graying & Balding, Inc., in association with Universal Music Classical Management & Productions (UMCMP) and THIRTEEN for WNET.ORG, the production is directed by the Emmy Award-winning team Jim Gable and Ann Kim. A DVD of the program will be released November 24 on Deutsche Grammophon, featuring additional performances and behind-the-scenes footage documenting the concert’s genesis.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS.
Photograph for video thumbnail by Tony Molina.