In Monday’s Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.), Mal Vincent writes about the world premiere last Saturday of a concert adaptation of the 1925 silent film Ben-Hur by Stewart Copland—drummer for the rock group The Police—by the Virginia Arts Festival Orchestra, conducted by Richard Kaufman. “Copeland, whose energy was infectious, used gong drums, chimes and a darbuka (a drum used in Middle Eastern and North African music) to good effect. His amazingly varied career has ranged from rock classic to opera, ballet and, most important here, film scores…. Copeland’s brave new work faces perhaps unjust comparison to the long history of this classic work, dating back to the novel by Gen. Lew Wallace … and most notably the 1959 William Wyler film which won a record 11 Oscars and featured a Miklos Rozsa score that has been called, by some, ‘the greatest musical score in history’ while dismissed by others…. No one who experienced this evening can write it off as less than extraordinary—even with the quibbles. It is the kind of ‘event’ that the Virginia Arts Festival is becoming known for—unexpected and daring.”

Posted April 23, 2014