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Sting with the Florida Orchestra: Pretentious pairing, or a brilliant idea? Let’s debate

By Jay Cridlin
Published: December 5, 2017
Sting performs at a gala benefit at Carnegie Hall in New York on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, accompanied by the powerful Orchestra of St. Luke's, with many of his old classics arranged by conductor Rob Mathes, left. (Chris Lee/Carnegie Hall via AP)

Sting is coming to the Mahaffey Theater on Saturday — pretty small venue for one of pop music's biggest names, but he has a good reason.

Sting is the guest and performer of honor at a major fundraising gala for the Florida Orchestra, a major coup for the symphony and the city. With the orchestra's backing, he'll play songs like I Burn for You, Englishman in New York, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic and Roxanne.

Our question: Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?

Times Pop Music/Culture Critic Jay Cridlin and Performing Arts Critic Andrew Meacham debated exactly that, wondering whether Sting's performance could be transformative or whether it might feel more pretentious than anything.

"The arrangements are different; it's not elevator music," Andrew said. "They enhance the songs, bring out a different dimension within the songs."

"But not unlike his mononymous buddy Bono," Jay said, "Sting has cultivated this reputation for being pretentious, for trying to steer the conversation about his artistry toward some higher-minded plain. Which is fine and all; good on him for it. I just hope this show with the Florida Orchestra is actually, you know, kind of fun."

For more of our debate about Sting and the Florida Orchestra, click here.