Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh will premiere Police drummer’s oratorio |

Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh will premiere Police drummer’s oratorio

Patrick Varine
Stewart Copeland keeps the tempo of The Police’s “Message in a Bottle” while the band opens up their set at in Burgettstown in 2008.

Stewart Copeland wasn’t satisfied simply being the drummer for international pop sensations The Police.

Following the band’s breakup in the mid-’80s, Copeland went on to compose film and television soundtracks, collaborated in a band with Phish’s Trey Anastasio and Primus’s Les Claypool (the supremely weird Öysterhead project) and recorded music with hundreds of other musicians.

He has also composed an oratorio, “Satan’s Fall,” is serving as composer-in-residence for the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh in its 2019-20 season, and will participate in a question-and-answer session about the new piece on Oct. 23 at Mr. Smalls Theater in Millvale.

“An Evening With Stewart Copeland” will see the former Police drummer sitting for a conversation with Russ Rose of WDVE 102.5. The Meldelssohn Choir will perform excerpts from “Satan’s Fall.”

Copeland chose John Milton’s story within “Paradise Lost,” of the clash between God, the Messiah and Satan, to form the basis of a 40-minute oratorio.

“In the vast 17th-century epic of ‘Paradise Lost,’ there lives a story within the story,” Copeland said. “It concerns the essential prequel to the sacred tale: Why did Satan do it? How and why does Almighty God have an adversary? We get an answer in Books V and VI when we learn of Satan’s journey to the dark side and of the mighty battle that cast him out of heaven. Such a story must be told with a heavenly choir!”

Copeland even recorded a message earlier this fall for the choir.

MCP Musical Director Matthew Mehaffey said the work is “incredibly unique.”

“The structure actually feels like an oratorio, and therefore it is truly timeless in how it tells the story,” Mehaffey said. “It’s part ‘Carmina Burana,’ part musical theater, part hard rock, and very intense rhythmically. It’s almost like an extended 1970s rock opera.”

The full world premiere of “Satan’s Fall” will take place Feb. 7 and 8 at the newly restored Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks. Tickets are $20 to $35 and are available at Ticketmaster.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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