Stewart Copeland Drums New Life Into 1925 ‘Ben-Hur’ Flick with Orchestra

Ex-Police Drummer Pulls Off Herculian Task with Live Performance at Valley Performing Arts Center

Copeland and the Pacific Symphony perform the score to Ben-Hur - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia
Copeland and the Pacific Symphony perform the score to Ben-Hur – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA – Stewart Copeland doesn’t shy away from a big project.

Copeland, known to most as the drummer from the popular band, The Police, may have topped himself.  He scored the 1925 silent film “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” which was met with raucous applause and approval from a packed house when performed at the Valley Performing Arts Center.

Featuring the Pacific Symphony with Richard Kaufman, the presentation at the Cal State Northridge campus-based center was eclectic and old-school at the same time.  The audience was mostly the “over over-50 crowd” — those who weren’t quite old enough to have seen the film at the nickel theatres in the old days.

Stewart Copeland - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia
Stewart Copeland – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

But there were a few celebrities on hand as well and stellar musicians including the orchestra and its conductor Richard Kaufman.

Copeland is the composer of scores for Oliver Stone and several TV projects.  He started his alternate career after The Police broke up and he scored “Rumblefish.”

In 2009, Copeland was asked to do the score to live version of “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ Civil War, based on the Gen. Lew Wallace 1880 novel.  The company had toured Europe.  The Virginia Arts Festival reps were the ones responsible for coaxing Copeland to edit and score the film version directed by Fred Niblo.

copeland5-balancia-wtmkLAs anyone in the audience at the VPAC will tell you, it was obviously a labor of love.  With each footstep or action, the music fits perfectly and it takes an old property and makes it new with an appealing sound.  Oh and Copeland plays drums, cymbals, bells and an assortment of musical percussion based instruments throughout.