Smithsonian Acquires Musical Objects from Sting, J. Ralph (photos)

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Sting handles his 1978 Fender Stratocaster guitar for perhaps the last time. Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton looks on. (photo by Jeff Malet)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History acquired objects from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Sting and Academy Award-nominated composer, songwriter and social activist J. Ralph in a special donation ceremony on Friday, Sept. 8, in Washington, D.C.

Sting donated the 1978 Fender Stratocaster guitar that he played at Amnesty International’s “The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball” in 1981 and throughout his first world tour as a solo artist. Ralph donated original sheet music, lyrics and recordings for “Evolocean” and the Oscar-nominated song “The Empty Chair.” The two collaborated on the song, which was featured in the HBO documentary “Jim: The James Foley Story.” (Foley was working as a freelance war correspondent during the Syrian Civil War when he was abducted and subsequently murdered by ISIS.)

After the ceremony, guests were invited to attend a performance of “The Empty Chair” by Sting and the world premiere of Ralph’s latest symphonic piece, “Evolocean,” featuring the London Symphony Orchestra and recorded at Abbey Road Studios. “Evolocean” is described as an “ever evolving living dialog exploring mankind and its effect on the oceans.” It was written to raise awareness and money for species extinction, oceanic preservation and sharks.

Ralph’s daughter Theodora, then only 6 months old, lent her distinctive voice to the soundtrack. A limited number of tickets were sold to the event, which was hosted by Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton and benefited the museum’s programs on culture and the arts. James Foley’s parents, Diane and John Foley, were invited guests.

The items will be added to the Smithsonian’s music collections, which contain more than 5,000 instruments of American and European heritage, including precious Stradivarius string instruments, Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and Irving Berlin’s piano.

The National Museum of American History is located on Constitution Avenue NW between 12th and 14th Streets on the National Mall. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily except Dec. 25. Admission is free.

View Jeff Malet’s photos from the dedication ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History by clicking on the photo icons below.

 

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