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Conducting Electricity

Alum helps Sting bring his pop music to worldwide audiences


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In the video above, Steven Mercurio (CFA’80) talksabout his work with Sting. BU alum Steven Mercurio (above, center) at a Symphonicity tour rehearsal with Sting (left) and music director Rob Mathes. Photo by Clive Barda

When Sting decided to reinvent his catalogue of hits for a major orchestra, he knew exactly who he wanted behind the baton: composer and conductor Steven Mercurio. Mercurio, who straddles both classical and popular music worlds, was a natural fit to conduct the musical chameleon’s backup musicians for his most recent tour.

“This tour covered ground that’s never been covered before,” says Mercurio (CFA’80). “It needed somebody who could help Sting realize what his intentions were for the music.”

The resulting concert, called Symphonicity, took Mercurio and Sting—along with the 45-member Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra of London—to 40 venues around the United States this past summer, and they are traveling through Europe this fall.

A native New Yorker, Mercurio stumbled into composing and conducting at Boston University and then went on to Juilliard. He has conducted more than 65 operas in seven languages, from Pittsburgh to Rome, as well as many symphonic pieces, including his
Grammy-winning Chick Corea Concerto with the London Philharmonic. He has recorded with performers as diverse as John Williams, Andrea Bocelli, and the Three Tenors.

Collaborating with Sting was an honor, he says, because the prolific rocker’s music “already has a theatrical element to it.” Sting is “a great observer of life and personalities.”

When he’s not on the road, Mercurio is working on a symphony about dogs and their owners, which he hopes to stage next summer at outdoor venues across the country. It’s his next attempt to bring orchestra to a wide audience—maybe even to other species.

“Dog owners are fanatical, and to bring them together and let the orchestra be socially relevant would be a great thing,” he says

Katie Koch can be reached at katieleekoch@gmail.com. Alan Wong can be reached at alanwong@bu.edu.

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