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Sting in his musical ‘The Last Ship’ - Volti: ‘Almost Speechless’, the voice as an instrument

Matthew Murphy

This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area performing arts, host David Latulippe talks with composer, singer-songwriter, actor, author, activist, international rock star, and 17-time Grammy Award-winner Sting (pictured, center), who is in town to star in his own new musical, The Last Ship,    playing at the Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor St.) in San Francisco, through March 22.

The musical tells the story of a community amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the Swan Hunter shipyard. The Last Ship  is inspired by Sting’s 1991 album The Soul Cages, and by his own childhood experiences, growing up in a shipbuilding community in the North East of England. Sting stars as shipyard foreman Jackie White. His co-star, Frances McNamee, who joins the conversation, plays the role of Meg Dawson (pictured, center right). 

The story revolves around a sailor named Gideon Fletcher who returns home after seventeen years at sea, when tensions between past and future flare in both his family and his town. The local shipyard, around which the community has always revolved, is closing and no one knows what will come next. Jackie White (Sting) and his wife Peggy fight to hold their community together in the face of the gathering storm.

Plus, we talk with Robert Geary, founder and artistic director of acclaimed contemporary music vocal ensemble Volti, and its upcoming concert titled Almost Speechless, a concert program in which Volti’s singers explore the voice as an instrument, in compositions with little or no text. 

All four works on the program are Volti commissions. Two world premieres anchor the program: Tomorrow's Dream Not the Same by Volti’s resident composer Mark Winges, and Starting Places by Tonia Ko

The program also features repeat performances of earlier Volti commissions: Zibuokle Martinaityte's evocatively atmospheric Chant des Voyelles and Danny Clay's playful and improvisatory Playbook Choruses.

Concerts are on Friday, February 28 (8pm) at the Noe Valley Ministry (1021 Sanchez St.) in San Francisco; and on Saturday, February 29 (7:30pm) at the Hillside Club (2286 Cedar St.) in Berkeley. 

Open Air with host David Latulippe, heard live on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Listen now or anytime…