Steward Copeland © Erik Holsvik
ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien / Copeland / Emery
«Niblo: Ben Hur»
19:30 – ca. 21:30
Stewart Copeland, former drummer of the New Wave band, «The Police», has composed an intoxicating live soundtrack for the silent film «Ben Hur». Together with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Emery, Copeland uses both pictures and sound to tell the story: the legendary chariot race in Ben Hur is the focus, both musically and rhythmically of Copeland's score.
The epic «Ben Hur» from 1925 is one of the great classics of silent film. Director Fred Niblo links the life and adventures of the Jewish businessman Ben Hur with the life of Christ and the Roman occupation of Jerusalem. «Ben Hur» depicts the fall of Egypt, the ascent of Rome and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. All these events mark the start of recent history and their effects can still be felt today. The new setting and tonal expansion underline the topicality of the story. And the visualisation of the historic cinematic pictures and techniques is particularly interesting. Major themes such as friendship, love and betrayal, as well as the elaborate battle and crowd scenes made «Ben Hur» a box office hit and ensured its cult status today.
As the starting point for his score, the US drummer and composer Stewart Copeland chose the film's subtitle, «A Tale of the Christ», which points to passionate and religious emotions. In typical Hollywood style, they highlight the basic musical atmosphere: big emotions, pathos, action-packed staccato, oriental exoticism and romantic sequences. As the soloist, Copeland fulfils all expectations: powerfully virtuosic, but at the same nuanced, he plays the drums as a master of the rock syncope. Copeland owes his unmistakable style to a childhood spent in Syria and Lebanon. The complex, polyrhythmic structures of his playing are audibly inspired by oriental music and that completes the circle to «Ben Hur».