Celebrates Elizabethan Master John Dowland
Sting celebrates a great pop master with a special featuring the music of acclaimed Elizabethan songwriter, John Dowland (1563-1626). "The songs of John Dowland have been haunting me for the past twenty years," says the former Police front man. Viewers of 'Sting: Songs From the Labyrinth', Monday, February 26 at 10 p.m. (ET) on Thirteen/WNET New York's GREAT PERFORMANCES on PBS (check local listings), can now witness why.
Born in 1563, Dowland has long captivated performers and listeners alike with his songs and introspective music. Composed primarily for lute, but also small ensembles, it remains arresting in its simplicity, spellbinding with melancholy and joy. It was perhaps inevitable that Sting - one of today's most internationally acclaimed troubadours - would be drawn to revisit Dowland's work from a contemporary perspective.
"I'm not a trained singer for this repertoire," says the 16-time Grammy winner, "but I'm hoping that I can bring some freshness to these songs that perhaps a more experienced singer wouldn't give. For me they are pop songs written around 1600 and I relate to them in that way: beautiful melodies, fantastic lyrics, and great accompaniments."
The singer adds, "John Dowland was perhaps the first example of the archetype with which we have become familiar today, that of the alienated singer-songwriter - something that gives him an acutely modern resonance."
Joining Sting in the telecast is esteemed lutenist Edin Karamazov. Interspersed between performances of such timeless Dowland songs such as 'Can She Excuse My Wrongs', 'Come Again' and 'Flow My Tears' are discussions with musicologists David Pinto and Anthony Rooley of the composer's place in music history and his relevance today, plus recitations by Sting from Dowland's personal correspondence.
Filmed, appropriately enough, at Lake House, Sting's 16th-century manor house in Wiltshire, and in the ancient gardens of Il Palagio, his home in Italy, 'Sting: Songs From the Labyrinth' also features the performers before a live audience at St. Luke's Church in London.
Concluding the special are Sting and Karamazov, alone at Lake House, duetting on Dowland's best known work, 'In Darkness Let Me Dwell'. "Timeless," Sting says. "It takes its place among the other great soliloquies of the Elizabethan Age, reminding us that while there may be tragedy within a life, life itself is not tragic."
'Songs From the Labyrinth' is also the title of Sting's new collection of Dowland songs recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, which debuted at #1 on Billboard's Traditional Classical Chart and Classical Overall Chart, where it has remained for eight consecutive weeks.
The GREAT PERFORMANCES program will also be released as part of a special DVD/CD package entitled, 'The Journey & the Labyrinth: The Music of John Dowland'. The set includes both an extended version of the TV special and a bonus CD consisting of live material recorded at St. Luke's, London, plus consummate Sting hits including 'Message in a Bottle' & 'Fields of Gold', adapted for the lute. Deutsche Grammophon will release this special package on Tuesday, February 20.
A production of Graying & Balding, Inc, 'Sting: Songs From the Labyrinth', is directed and produced by Jim Gable and Ann Kim. The program marks the singer's most recent appearance on the GREAT PERFORMANCES series. Last November he performed and reminisced about an old friend in A Tribute to James Taylor.
GREAT PERFORMANCES is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, public television viewers, and PBS. Major corporate support is provided by UBS, a global leader in wealth management, investment banking and asset management. You & Us. UBS.
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David Horn is series producer for GREAT PERFORMANCES, with John Walker as senior producer for music and Bill O'Donnell as director of program development. Barry Schulman is executive producer.
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