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Kurt Bestor: composing a life.

Ever thought about writing your autobiography? Would you begin somewhere with your childhood, or would you start with last week and work backward? Should you skip over the ugly spots, or let it all hang out, expose style? Sound daunting? Now try putting it to music.

That's what internationally renowned composer and performer Kurt Bestor is hunkered down to do. At a point in his life when he's composed more than 30 film scores and recorded 18 or 19 CDs (Bestor confesses he doesn't keep track), he's ready to compose the most personal of all his works: the score to his life.

"This next album, it'll be untitled, an autobiographical album," says Bestor. And how does one go about composing one's own story? "You go on a journey. You make note of the landmarks you've passed. Some of those landmarks are happy, some are pretty devastating things. I just decided to put a musical voice to all of them," he says.

Putting a musical voice to things is something Bestor has done since childhood. "I've always had a passion for music, ever since I was a little kid. Sounds to me are musical, whether it's busy traffic in New York or a serene beach in California. By junior high, that passion morphed into a curiosity about how to translate what the world sang, into music," says Bestor.

Bestor says curiosity turned to necessity when he decided to try making a living at his music. "I dream of having lived in the day when I could find a wealthy [patron] like King Leopold who paid for Mozart to write," he says, only half-jokingly. "But I've finally realized that if all I have is a stack of paid bills when I'm done with my life, I'll be dissatisfied. While I'm still taking care of the bills, I'm definitely stopping to 'compose the roses,'" says Bestor.

His fans would say the world is a better place for his rose-scented compositions. His song, "Prayer of the Children," for example, has brought tears of hope at 9/11 ceremonies, Columbine High School memorials and other commemorations worldwide. His work with Sam Cardon, co-composing for ABC's daily coverage of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, was an historic contribution. And his fifteenth annual Christmas concert, this month at Abravanel Hall, is a sell-out tradition for local devotees.

While it's been a prolific, profitable journey for Bestor, it wasn't always easy. His first demo reel was rejected; he was told "Nobody wants instrumental music." It wasn't until after Lex de Azevedo's Embryo Music took a chance on his first album, Joyspring, that the door opened a crack. It swung wide open after 1987's A Kurt Bestor Christmas bravely countered Mannheim Steamroller's Fresh Air Christmas with sweeping album sales.


Despite the success, at 45, Bestor says he's far from done. "As of today, I figure I've lived half my life. I plan on being very productive the rest of my life--there is no retirement in my vocabulary. It never really feels like I'm working, anyway," says Bestor.

Good, then we'll expect the sequel to that untitled album in oh, about another 45 years.

Heather Beers is a Salt Lake City-based freelance writer and co-owner of Momentum Communications advertising and public relations.
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Author:Beers, Heather
Publication:Utah Business
Geographic Code:1U8UT
Date:Dec 1, 2003
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