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October 14 at 7:30 p.m.


CHICAGO—Grammy Award-winning drummer and composer Stewart Copeland joins the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Richard Kaufman in the Chicago premiere performance of Copeland’s original soundtrack for MGM’s legendary 1925 silent film ­Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ on Tuesday, October 14 at 7:30 p.m.  Copeland, who is best known as the drummer for the iconic ‘80s rock band The Police, accompanies the CSO from the drum set with a full complement of auxiliary percussion instruments including traditional Middle Eastern instruments which add unique color to the new film score.

The CSO screening and performance with Copeland marks only the second performance since the work’s world premiere on Easter weekend 2014 at the Virginia Arts Festival which commissioned Copeland to compose and perform the score. An epic masterpiece of classic cinema, ­Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is widely considered one of Hollywood’s crowning achievements. One of the most expensive silent films ever made, it was noted for its cultural, historic, and aesthetic significance by the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry at the time of its addition to their collection in 1997.

Copeland, who grew up for the first 14 years of his life in Lebanon, summoned his earliest musical impressions when composing the score for Ben-Hur, using Middle Eastern rhythms, modes and instruments. His musical approach revels in the excitement of the pirate ship battle and chariot race while never losing sight of the tale’s underlying themes of hope, love and redemption.

“It’s a silent movie, which is catnip for a composer, and the wild action scenes are nitroglycerin for a drummer,” says Copeland.  “Having a chance to bring the full power and intensity of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to this music will be a once in a lifetime experience for me and the audience,” adds Copeland.

Set in Rome during the time of Jesus Christ, Director Fred Niblo’s landmark film is based on the popular 1880 historical novel by General Lew Wallace and tells the dramatic story of the Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur, who is enslaved by the Romans but saves a Roman general. He goes on to gain a powerful position within the Roman society, ultimately restoring honor to his family. The 1920’s matinee idol Ramon Novarro starred in the leading role.

Copeland, who calls himself “a mix between Jimi Hendrix and Stravinsky” remarks that “film takes you to every type of music: jazz, techno, pop, everywhere.  He goes on to say that “the one common thread through most music in film is the orchestra, because directors and moviegoers are trained that an orchestra sounds like a movie.”

A notable composer with four operas and previous film scores to his credit, Copeland also edited the film for this unique project. The painstaking process resulted in a new and powerful 90-minute version of the classic film set to his score which expertly blends Middle Eastern influences, funk, rock and more to bring the principal scenes of the film to life with fresh energy and emotional impact.

Program and Ticket Details

Tickets for all CSO concerts can be purchased by phone at 800‑223‑7114 or 312-294‑3000; online at, or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604. For group rates, please call 312-294-3040.

Artists, programs and prices are subject to change.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Special Concert
Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Richard Kaufman, conductor
Stewart Copeland, film score composer and percussion


Tickets: $34-$110

About Stewart Copeland
Stewart Copeland has spent three decades at the forefront of contemporary music as a rock star, acclaimed film composer and film maker, and a much sort-after composer in the disparate worlds of opera, ballet, world music and chamber music composition. In 1984, Stewart was contacted by the celebrated filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola who asked him to visit the set of his latest film “Rumble Fish” to provide percussive accompaniment to the proceedings.  Copeland turned this opportunity into the creation of his first film score. Featuring a strikingly original mixture of traditional percussion and unusual prior recordings which came to be called “samples,” Stewart’s work pioneered the field of sound-designed scores and earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Score.  Soon afterwards Oliver Stone called on him to write the score to “Wall Street,” and a unique and prolific career in composition for film and television was well on its way.

Subsequent assignments have included a second Oliver Stone film “Talk Radio,” three films for Ken Loach, the CBS series “The Equalizer,” the Showtime Series “Dead Like Me,” and the teen hit “She’s All That.”  In 1998, Bruno Barreto’s “Four Days in September” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, featuring Copeland’s soundtrack.

As a composer, Copeland has received accolades for his film scores, concert works, ballets and operas including commissions from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Long Beach Opera.

Copeland’s list of awards includes The Hollywood Film Festival’s first-ever Outstanding Music in Film Visionary Award, as well as awards from BMI, Cable Ace, Cinequest, and Mobius and nominations from the Golden Globes and the Emmys. He has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Modern Drummers Hall of Fame in addition to receiving five Grammys as a member of The Police.

About Richard Kaufman
Richard Kaufman has devoted much of his musical life to conducting and supervising music for film and television productions, as well as performing film and classical music in concert halls and on recordings. The 2014-2015 concert season will mark Richard’s twenty-fourth season as Principal Pops Conductor of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony. He holds the permanent title of Pops Conductor Laureate with the Dallas Symphony. Next season, Richard will begin his tenth season with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert series, “CSO at the Movies”, conducting classic and contemporary film music, as well as classical music used in motion pictures. Richard regularly appears as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras throughout both the United States and around the world including Cleveland, St. Louis, Edmonton, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin, Ireland. During the summer of 2014, he returns to the Blossom Music Center for two engagements, conducting The Cleveland Orchestra and the Blossom Festival Orchestra. During the 2014-15 season, Richard returns for three engagements with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and in November of 2014, Richard returns to Australia to conduct the West Australia Symphony Orchestra in Perth.

In October of 2011, Richard conducted the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in a concert presenting the film music of Oscar-winning composer Dimitri Tiomkin. This performance was the first film music recording released on the LSO LIVE recording label. It was nominated for a 2013 Grammy (Best Instrumental Accompaniment for a Vocal – “Wild is the Wind” – Arranger Nan Schwartz), and was also among several LSO recordings produced by James Mallinson for which he received a Grammy nomination in the category of “Best Classical Producer”.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra: and
Founded in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Its music director since 2010 is Riccardo Muti, one of the preeminent conductors of our day. Pierre Boulez is the CSO’s Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus; Yo-Yo Ma is the CSO’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant. Mason Bates and Anna Clyne are the CSO’s Mead Composers-in-Residence.

From the baroque through contemporary music, the CSO commands a vast classical repertoire. The renowned musicians of the CSO annually perform more than 150 concerts, most at Symphony Center in Chicago and, each summer, at the suburban Ravinia Festival. They regularly tour nationally and internationally; since 1892, the CSO has made 57 international tours, performing in 28 countries on five continents.

Listeners around the globe enjoy weekly radio broadcasts of CSO concerts and recordings on the WFMT network and online at Recordings by the CSO have earned a total of 62 Grammy Awards, including two in 2011 for the first recording Muti released with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Verdi’s Messa da Requiem.

The parent organization for the CSO is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. It includes the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training ensemble. Through its Symphony Center Presents series, the CSOA presents guest artists from a variety of genres—classical, jazz, pop, world, and contemporary.

The Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO offers a variety of community and education programs that engage more than 200,000 people of diverse ages and backgrounds. Through the Institute and other activities, the CSO promotes the concept of Citizen Musicianship: using the power of music to create connections and build community.

The CSO is supported by tens of thousands of volunteers; patrons; and corporate, foundation, government, and individual donors. Bank of America is the Global Sponsor of the CSO.

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