The following article by Jay Hanna appeared in a January 2011 issue of The Sunday Mail...
A symphony with Sting...
The English songsmith loves nothing more than reinvention.
"I love a challenge," says Sting with a cheeky sideways smile.
The 59-year-old singer, who touched down in Australia this week ahead of his national Symphonicity tour, says he thrives on new experiences and couldn't resist the appeal of reworking his most loved songs for performance with an orchestra.
The project which started off as a one-off with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra resulted in the 2010 album Symphonicities and a subsequent tour, which touches down in Adelaide on Wednesday following sold out shows across Europe and North America.
The sprightly superstar says he is happy to be bringing the show to Australia, which always feels like a home away from home.
"I really enjoy coming here," he says. "There is something of the British culture here that we have in common so it doesn't feel so foreign to me."
Dressed casually in blue jeans and a pale blue shirt, the singer says he is itching to show Australian audiences what all the fuss is about.
"At first when you go out there with a symphony orchestra the audiences are not quite sure what to expect, but after a few bars when they recognise the song and they see how lush this thing is they really do enjoy it." he says.
"But first there is a shock because it's not what they are used to."
Sting says when he undertook the project he was keen to make sure the orchestra weren't just adding embellishment to songs such as 'Every Breath You Take', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Roxanne', but rather breathing new life into his classic hits.
"My idea was that it wouldn't just be musical wallpaper," he says.
"Often when a pop musician has an orchestra it is just background and the musicians aren't doing much except playing whole notes behind a ballad. I wanted the musicians to be really challenged so the arrangements are hard.
"When you play with a rock band you have three primary colours - the drums, the bass and the guitar - and that's interesting, but when you have an orchestra you have a whole spectrum of colour and range and texture which isn't available to a rock band.
"That changes the meaning of the songs in a profound way and also in a very subtle way.
It changes enough to keep me interested and to keep the audience on their toes, they're not quite sure what is going to happen next."
But audiences have come to learn to expect the unexpected when it comes to Sting.
With a career spanning more than 30 years and an impressive haul of around 100 million album sales, he has a knack of reinventing himself.
His regular Australian visits have come in a whole range of guises.
"I think the last time I was here I was playing with a lute player playing 16th Century music," he says.
"The time before that was with the Police and this time it's with the orchestra. Next time I have no idea, maybe (I'll play with) a didgeridoo player. I don't know. It'll be something different. I'm curious and I like to see how music can develop."
Sting says his enviable energy, which he credits to yoga and an active sex life with wife Trudie Styler, is also boosted by being on stage.
"It is hard to explain to anybody who hasn't actually experienced the feeling of walking out on stage in front of 30,000 people who are all fairly pleased to see you. It's an amazingly galvanising experience," he says.
"I love singing. I am probably at my most free, my most honest when I am singing. I don't think of the past, I don't think of the future. I just think of the present time. It's a sort of form of meditation.
"I'm 59, I was 59 a few months ago. If I wasn't fit I couldn't do my gig. It's a very physical job. I'm doing the job of a 20 year-old.
"I can still fit into my trousers which is important to me. I have the right amount of personal vanity to do this job. And I love it."
The singer says he can't see himself hanging up his microphone any time soon.
"I'm not much good at anything else," he says with a shrug. "I would go back to teaching I suppose, but the money is crap. No, I want to keep doing this."
Speaking of money, the superstar is throwing his weight behind the Queensland Flood appeal.
Sting says he will make a personal donation to the appeal and is urging fans to do the same.
Sting says he felt compelled to help those affected by the crisis.
"I'm making a personal donation myself. And at the concerts there will be ushers collection donations for the people of Queensland and Victoria and those donations will be directed to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Premier's Project," he says.
"You've got to help out in any way you can."
© Adelaide Sunday Mail by Jay Hanna