Sting with strings: British star set for orchestral tour

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British pop veteran Sting will take to the road with London's Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra next month, bringing a classical sound to some of his biggest hits.

He gave a small taster Wednesday at the iconic Abbey Road studios, playing a clutch of songs including "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and "Englishman In New York" for a group of invited journalists.

"It's the biggest band I've ever had," he said, flanked by the almost 50-strong orchestra which will accompany him starting in Canada in two weeks' time and finishing up in Europe in November.

Clad in a white shirt and shorn of his recent bushy beard, the former Police frontman said he got the idea for playing with classically-trained musicians after performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2008.

"We thought, let's take it on the road," he said, adding that the orchestra gave him "a whole new palette of musical colours to work (to reinvent) the songs that have been the staples of my live performances for over 30 years."

"I'm very excited," he added.

Musical arranger Rob Mathes said the "Symphonicities" tour -- a play on the Police "Synchronicity" album -- aimed to show a new side to Sting's songs. "We wanted to grab the spirit of the original recordings," he told AFP.

"The goal is to expand the taste of The Police or Sting fans."

Sting -- who performed a sell-out comeback tour with The Police in 2007-2008, and released an album of Christmas songs last year -- said he couldn't believe his luck.

"I'm like a kid with a new train set," he said.

Mathes said he was impressed by the star's ability to bring a fresh approach to his music. "He's like a kid, he loves learning. He's constantly listening to new things and making suggestions," he said.

The nearly 50-date tour starts in Vancouver on June 2, and ends in Italy in November, according to the concerts announced so far on his website.

© 2010 AFP

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