Sting Will (Gently) Rock the Met in Honor of Hudson River School Great Thomas Cole

The British musician's performance will be a blend of song and storytelling.

Sting performs onstage during the Sting
Sting performs onstage at Hammerstein Ballroom on March 14, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Cherry Tree.

Be still my beating heart. Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole and English rock star Sting may seem like an unlikely pairing, but it’s a match made in heaven—or so says New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has announced a three-night concert series with the former Police frontman as part of the programming for the exhibition “Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings” (January 30–May 12).

Sting, who co-founded the Police in 1977, has sold over 100 million records, won 16 Grammy Awards, and been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Cole, who founded the Hudson River School, an American art movement dedicated to immortalizing the natural beauty of Upstate New York, has work in the collections of major museums around the world and an auction record of nearly $1.5 million, according to the artnet Price Database.

But are the two men more than just shadows in the rain? What do they really have in common?

Just as Cole’s lush landscapes responded to the natural beauty of his home in Catskill, New York, and the surrounding Hudson Valley, “Sting has often mined his childhood memories of Northern England for creative inspiration,” the Met writes in the event description. “Both artists saw their respective landscapes destroyed by modern intrusions—one by the collapse of England’s shipping industry, the other by incursions of the Industrial Revolution into the American wilderness.” Landscape, loss, modern-day malaise—these are the soul cages.

Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm - The Oxbow (1836). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm – The Oxbow (1836). ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

“Atlantic Crossing” is timed to the 200th anniversary of Cole’s immigration from the UK to the US and demonstrates how American and European painting remained in dialogue throughout the 19th century. In honor of Sting’s status as an Englishman in New York, the concert is similarly titled “Sting: Atlantic Crossing.”

The performance, which includes both song and storytelling, will also feature a visual component. Sting will take the stage in front of artist Stephen Hannock’s “visual scenescape.” The two are friends and their collaborative art book, The Last Ship from the River of the Northern City with Lyrics by Sting and Prints by Stephen Hannock (2017), will be on view in the Met’s American Wing during the Cole show, along with a 2000 painting by Hannock inspired by Hudson River School painters.

Tickets for the April 25 and 26 shows are $125–175, with a special members-only performance on April 24. Attendees will have the chance to view the show after hours, free of crowds, before settling into their seats. So rev up the windmills of your mind and bring on the night!


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