Kurt Bestor
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Kurt Bestor

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Family Night at the Movies
RLPO/Kurt Bestor, Liverpool Philharmonic
January 16th, 2006
THE musical score you hear in a movie is often just as rich and well crafted as the film you are watching, sometimes more so. But all too often it goes unnoticed - passed over or unavoidably pushed into second place in favour of the action on screen.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra led by conductor Kurt Bestor went some way to re-addressing the balance with this extremely entertaining concert of past and present classic movie music.
Perhaps best known on this side of the pond for his music for the closing ceremony for the 1988 Winter Olympics, Bestor is a film music composer in his own right and has over 30 film scores under his belt.
The evening began with an arrangement encompassing a montage of over 40 iconic themes including Out of Africa, The Godfather, James Bond and Jaws to name but a few.
Family Night at the Movies took the audience on a concise voyage through the history of film music from its birth in the silent films of the 1920s right up to present date. Bestor made an affably gregarious host, dishing out anecdotes and jokes to the audience with equal measure.
Using a screen (and rather temperamental DVD projection) behind the Orchestra to illustrate the relationship between score and visuals, this was a hugely enjoyable concert both for music lovers and film buffs alike.
Stand outs of the evening included a superb rendition of the main title theme from Vertigo (by Bernard Herrmann) a note perfect Adagio for Strings (by Samuel Barber used in the film, Platoon) and a brilliant tribute to modern day movie maestro John Williams, including music from Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List, Harry Potter and ET.
The RLPO proved again that as well as being one of the oldest concert-giving organisations in the world they are also one of the finest.

by Gail Campbell-Thomson, Liverpool Echo - Liverpool Echo

December 8th, 2005
On Tuesday night the weather outside was frightful, but in true Christmas-carol fashion, inside Abravanel Hall, it was so delightful, as Kurt Bestor brought his 17th-annual holiday concert to the stage.

In true Kurt Bestor fashion, from the first echoing Glorias of the Millennium Choir to the last haunting strains of "Prayer of the Children," it was an evening filled with good will, magic and the joy of the season.

With a stellar backdrop of treelike cones that shifted color with the mood, Bestor took the audience through a musical gallery filled with seasonal pictures. With songs that conjured up visions of snow- covered hills, faraway villages, family gatherings and joyous celebrations, and with outstanding support from band and orchestra, he explored both the legacy of Christmas music and the diversity of interpretations it affords.

There were old favorites: a rousing "Deck The Halls," an uplifting "Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant," the annual rendition of "A Night Before Christmas," this time featuring radio sound effects in addition to the zany antics of the band and the narration of a true Santa pulled from the audience.

There were new additions: "Legacy In Blues," a song from his latest "A Life" CD, which celebrates the trumpet heritage he got from his father and grandfather and which could be described as "Bachian jazz." And his original "Carol for a Yuletide Eve," which honors the traditions of a Victorian Christmas.

Special guest, Celtic singer Christina Quinn, brought beautiful expression to a rich and vivid version of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." She was joined by the women of the Millennium Choir for a hauntingly poignant "Coventry Carol." And she brought both grace and power to a majestic and joyful "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

Throughout the evening, Bestor played a variety of instruments besides his famed Fazioli piano, ranging from trumpet on a bluesy "Christmas Song" to the harmonica on a plaintive "I Wonder As I Wander" -- and even the penny whistle on a suite of old carols from France.

That suite offered a delightful contrast to the percussion- flavored melding of "Little Drummer Boy" and "O Tannenbaum," which also showcased the skill of percussionists Kelly Wallis, Todd Sorensen and Kenny Hodges.

Those drummer boys weren't the only performers singled out for the spotlight. The Millennium Choir added an angelic touch to the evening. Dave Halliday stepped to the fore with his sax for a "Good King Wenceslas meets George Gershwin" kind of song. Aaron Ashton shone on the Celtic arrangements. Daron Bradford excelled with a variety of woodwinds. And guitarist extrordinaire Michael Dowdle took on violin virtuoso Monte Belknap in a scorching showdown on Bestor's "Christmas Concerto for Electric Guitar and Violin."

Like the etchings of Currier and Ives, Bestor's musical portraits capture the feel and flavor of other times and places with images that never grow old. At the same time, he brings a sense of here and now to the holiday celebration that is fresh and exciting. It is a celebration of both sound and spirit.
- Deseret News


Joyspring I & II
Kurt Bestor Christmas 1 & 2
One Silent Night
Kurt Bestor Christmas Christmas: By Request
Evening Angels
Innovators 1 & 2



For more than a three decades, Kurt Bestor's film scores, television themes,
compositions and carols have provided an indelible soundtrack of American
life. Indeed, much of Bestor's own life has been dedicated to creating musical
parallels to visual images.

Perhaps best known for his innovative interpretation of seasonal carols found in his popular 5-CD boxed set "The Complete Kurt Bestor Christmas," the Utah based composer and
performer launched his career writing music for television and movies. His credits
include more than 40 film scores and more than 40 themes for national TV
programs and commercials. It is Bestor's music that has introduced NFL Monday Night Football, and National Geographic Explorer; he scored TBS's Wild! Life Adventures and the IMAX film "The Great American West." He also was given the Outstanding Film Score Award at the New York Film and Television Festival for his music for PBS's "A More Perfect Union." Bestor was awarded an Emmy® for his collaboration with Sam Cardon on the original music for ABC's coverage of the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Bestor benefited from his families musical
inclinations. His grandfather played trumpet in many popular mid-western big bands and a
great uncle played trombone in Jack Benny's band. When he took up piano as a
child, Bestor was encouraged by his mother to improvise with his imagination.
"I'd get restless practicing and my mom would sit down at the piano with me and
say 'Play something that sounds like a sunrise.'" Thus was born his fascination
with the relationship between music and visual imagery. As Bestor took up
trumpet in his early teens, he set his sights on composing for film. "I knew that's
what I wanted to do when I saw "Jaws" during high school. I have made a goal to
score films ever since."

While enrolled in college, Bestor began writing music for student films, gradually
moving onto documentaries and eventually into the feature film score arena. In
1987, he was one of only six recipients of a fellowship at the Sundance Film
Institutes Film Composer Lab. There, he studied with master film composers
Dave Grusin, Alan Silvestri and David Raksin.

Even while Bestor's scoring career flourished, leading to such projects as music
for the National Geographic documentary on the sinking of the Andrea Doria, a
second large screen film "Sedona," the feature film "The Ghosts of Dicken's
Past," and the Warner Brothers film "Scarecrow," he expanded his career to
include original recordings and increasingly popular concerts.

In 1988, he recorded his first best-selling Christmas album. "At the some time, everybody I
talked to said it was a bad idea," he recalls. "There was only one other album out
there of contemporary instrumental Christmas music, by Mannheim Steamroller,
and I was told that the three-month period from October though Christmas was
too short to market a new record." But after staging a sold-out, 2,500 seat
concert to support the album, Bestor found himself at the helm of a holiday
tradition, inspiring further recordings and annual concerts across the country.

He often spends an average of one week out of every month performing, with a full
time concert schedule during the Christmas season. Featuring as many as 45
other musicians on stage, Bestor's concerts are major productions, but his warm
storytelling and humor create an intimate rapport with his audience. "It's a bit like
Garrison Keillor-meets-John Williams," he laughs. The year 2008 marks Bestor's
20th year of sold-out Christmas shows.

In spring of 2000, Bestor's easy-going manner and rapport with audiences were
showcased in the PBS concert filming of his "Innovators" album, with Sam
Cardon. The nationwide special was so successful that a follow-up "Innovators II:
Keepers of the Flame" was produced for release in conjunction with the 2002
Olympic celebrations.

In August 2001, Bestor's composing and conducting talents were highlighted
when his powerful "Saints on the Seas" oratorio was performed in major
European cities against the backdrop of some of the worlds most beautiful
concert halls.

In 2002, Bestor had the distinctive opportunity to conduct his music (co-written
with fellow collaborator Sam Cardon) during the Closing Ceremonies of the 2002
Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He was also honored to have carried the
Olympic torch through Salt Lake City. "It was truly a gold-medal experience. Rubbing shoulders with incredible athletes and being joined on stage by Josh Groban, Charlotte Church, Earth Wind and Fire, Moby, KISS, among others was unforgettable."

Several years ago Kurt premiered his "Night at the Movies" concert with the Utah
Symphony – a journey through the last 85 years of movie music. Using a giant
screen, guest vocalists, and his usual concert repartee with the audience, Bestor
traced the art of film scoring from its silent piano roots to today's exciting sc