How do you convince Sting to perform a benefit concert for the 100th anniversary of Zion’s designation as a national park? Send him a video.
It worked for the nonprofit Zion National Park Forever Project, which will receive unspecified proceeds from Sting’s Aug. 31 appearance at Usana Amphitheater with the Utah Symphony. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at Smith’s Tix locations, www.smithstix.com, or by phone at 800-888-TIXX.
After seeing the montage of stunning images of the southern Utah park, accompanied by information about what the nonprofit Project does, Sting “specifically wanted to do this concert and this project to benefit the park, which is really awesome,” said Thomas Love, president of Love Communications.
The effort to lure Sting back to Utah began almost two years ago at Red Butte Garden, at the kickoff of a campaign to raise $5 million for the nonprofit organization. Based in Springdale, Zion Forever Project is the park’s private partner and generally pays for programs and projects not ordinarily covered by the National Park Service budget.
A. Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank and co-chair of the campaign, told others involved that he wanted to do a big concert to commemorate the national park’s centennial.
(Part of Zion was included in the Mukuintuweap National Monument declared by President Howard Taft in 1909; it was expanded from 5,840 acres to 76,800 acres and renamed the Zion National Monument in 1918; President Woodrow Wilson declared it Zion National Park in November 1919.)
“He said, ‘I’m going to underwrite it. I want to be the sponsor and I want the symphony to be there,’” Love said. “And Scott thinks big. He said, ‘I want to get a big name — a big, international, famous star.’”
Anderson contacted Live Nation Salt Lake City president Jim McNeil, who used his contacts to get to Sting. And what sealed the deal was the 2½-minute video that’s on the Zion Forever Project’s homepage at zionpark.org.
The nonprofit recently teamed with the Utah Office of Tourism, the city of St. George and Washington County to help keep the national park open during the 35-day partial federal government shutdown.
“Jim sent it to Sting’s people,” Love said, “and we heard that he was moved by it. Wanted to be a part of this. Wanted to be a part of the park’s centennial."
The Zion Forever Project, Zions Bank, Live Nation and the Utah Symphony have been working to put the concert together for months, but the news that Sting was on board came as a pleasant surprise.
“It’s the best-case scenario. We’re just thrilled,” said Mark Preiss, director of the Zion Forever Project. “He’s done benefits that are along this line elsewhere, so, certainly, we saw an alignment there.”
Sting and his wife, Trudy Styler, founded the Rainforest Fund in 1989 to protect the world’s rainforests and the indigenous people living there. They have long supported other human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Live AID. They have held 18 benefit concerts to raise funds and awareness for Earth’s endangered resources, according to Cherrytree Management, which manages him.
“For those of us who live here in Utah, we can visit Zion multiple times a year. But for many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Preiss said. “And when we think about this concert and celebrating what Zion means to our community, this is another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Live Nation Salt Lake City did not reply to inquiries Thursday about whether there is a minimum guaranteed contribution to the park charity. According to Love, the concert could raise “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for the Project, depending on ticket sales.
The Utah Symphony will be paid its standard fees, and Sting will be paid for his performance.
Sting will perform his greatest hits re-imagined for symphonic arrangement, with Rob Mathes conducting, according to the symphony. Selections at the 7:30 p.m. concert on Aug. 31 will include “Roxanne,” “Next To You,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Every Breath You Take” and songs from his solo career, such as “Englishman in New York,” “Fragile,” “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” “Fields of Gold,” and “Desert Rose.”
Sting visited Salt Lake City in September 2016 to see Pioneer Theatre Company’s production of his Tony-nominated musical, “The Last Ship.” The play, which had a 2014-15 run on Broadway, drew upon the shipyards and characters of his hometown of Wallsend in northeastern England.