Kurt Bestor




I find that the boundaries established in academic classical music studies to be incredibly limited and so I have a hard time classifying my music as Baroque, Classical, Impressionistic, or even Jazz. So, I just draw from all the composers and styles that have influenced me through the years and enjoy mixing various styles. I also enjoy world influences in classical music (like Bulgarian folk singing, Balinese gamelans, Tuvan throat singing, etc) and like mixing these sounds and instruments in my western classical music.

Kurt Bestor, an Emmy-Award-winning and Grammy-nominated composer, is known for the incredible range of musical genres in which he excels. From his full orchestral film scores for IMAX movies like Great American West and Sedona to cutting edge synth compositions for television shows and video games, there's virtually no style he hasn't composed. Bestor's music is played by orchestras, bands, and singers the world over. His popular anthem "Prayer of the Children" is still one of the most sung choir songs in the world and is currently being covered by American Idol finalist David Archuleta and the iconic rock group Three Dog Night. When not composing, Bestor performs his traditional holiday show to sold-out audiences in the Intermountain West and his classical compositions and orchestral pops shows with various orchestras throughout the world. ! He and his wife, Petrina, and daughter Ella make their home in the mountains of Utah. !


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What does music mean to you personally?

Music is not a career, hobby, or interest of mine, rather it is an extension of me. It is the way that I most easily and effectively convey my innermost feelings. When I view something beautiful, experience something painful, or hear about something inspirational, I immediate react in a musical fashion.So, in short, music for me is about a perfect communication, far beyond words.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

While music can certainly be about fantasy, it is oftentimes very “real.” One can compose about historical things without having ever been there. The event is “real” but the “fantasy” of transporting one back there is what music can do very effectively.

If you were not a professional musician, would would you have been?

If I hadn’t followed my dreams of becoming a musician, I would have pursued my other passion of architecture.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?

There has never been a time in human history without music. I think it is impossible for humans to exist without musical expression. However, musical tastes evolve and morph and I see that happening now. So, while classical music seems to be aging with those who attend classical concerts, a new generation is enjoying a renaissance of classically-tinged music in films, video games, and in pop music. In short, I see the lines blurring between musical genres. I don’t worry about my future as long as I continue to evolve with these changes.

What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I think the role of classical music is what it has always been and that is to reflect nature, capture human emotion, communicate deep emotion, and remind us that we’re “human.” After all the origin of the term "humanities" is derived from the Renaissance Latin expression studia humanitatis, or "study of humanitas" (a classical Latin word meaning—in addition to "humanity" -- "culture, refinement, education" and, specifically, an "education befitting a cultivated man").

When I say that classical music is searching for new ways or that the classical music is getting a new face, what would come to your mind?

What comes to my mind is seeing the once-hap-empty orchestra concerts halls now full of young 20-year-olds who have come to hear the orchestra play music from their favorite video game. Of course, classical purists may grimace and say, “That isn’t classical music,” but the problem lies in the definition of the term. Throughout history people have argued about popular of folk music versus classical or academic music.

Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative? Whats the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

Besides being “creative” in the composing process, musicians also need to be creative in disseminating the music and gathering fans and an audience. Rather than waiting for King Leopold to order a new symphony (as was the case with Mozart) or waiting for a big-money benefactor to want to publish music (as was done with Beethoven), we contemporary classical composers need to utilize social media, combine mediums (like film, TV, dance, etc), and other such “creative” new ways to raise awareness for our style and genre of music.

Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the classical music concerts? How will you proceed?

This question has been covered in part in #6 but I would also add that now is a wonderful time to re-purpose old approaches to concerts. I remember playing virtual concerts in the online world of Second Life. While I could only have 20-50 people in the “virtual” audience, there were, in fact, actual people logged in from around the world and if they liked what they heard, they could actually “tip” the performance. In fact, what you are doing on Moving Classics TV is exactly what I am talking about. I would imagine that thousands of people have become your “audience” and this will be a channel through which to market and encourage classical music.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favourite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?

One of my favorite compositions was a choral piece that I wrote out of frustration over the civil war in the former country of Yugoslavia. I was so sad to see children become the victims of such a horrendous conflict that I composed an A Cappella piece dedicated to them. The composing process in this case began with an aching feeling which I had to express musically. If you hear the first phrase of the song (envisioned without words) you will hear the first thing that I composed. It was like a sad “sigh” which eventually become the sung words, “Can you hear the prayer of the children?” Then I imagined the song to deal with the various senses a child would use to experience the war there - sight, feeling, etc. so the song follows that approach. While I am mostly an “instrumental” composer, when I write lyrics or a libretto I do so in tandem with the music. “Prayer of the Children” continues to be sung by choirs around the world and always dedicated to children and so my ultimate goal was realized - to spread peace amidst war to supplant hate with love.

We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?

As a composer who has written music for ballet, ballroom dance, numerous films, etc. I couldn’t agree more.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Well, the very first thing I tell people of all ages who want to discover classical music is to 1) listen, listen LISTEN (and not just to MP3s but to live music as much as possible 2) Keep your ears open especially to things you think you don’t like. 3) Get “inside” the music by looking at scores, listen or read what the composer intended, and discuss this with fellow listeners.

Now it is a common practice in the media to talk that the classical music is getting into the consumption business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and demand rules and how to sell your “product” in your case your compositions. How do you see it?

Classical music and its composers have always needed money and that, in large part, has driven their pursuits. I see nothing wrong with that. Yes, it sometimes encourages musicians to pander to the lowest common denominator, but it doesn’t need to. Composers from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Debussy, Rachmaninov, and Copeland have all chased money in order to pay their bills but to also keep their passion of music alive.

Do you have expectations what regards your listeners, your audience?

I demand nothing of my audience although I hope they will “open their ears” and give my music a chance to speak to them. I know I can’t please all the people and so I don’t try to do that. My most successful compositions have been those that were just pleasing to me. They were written authentically and with no financial or success motivation. And yet, they ended up being the ones that sold the most downloads, CDs, or sheet music.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I am currently arranging music for a violinist named Jenny Oaks Baker which I will record in September. And, I am also publishing hundreds of my pieces in sheet music form which is a long-term project. As for experimentation in my projects, I always try to do something a little “new” or “edgy” in my pieces. While audiences sometimes want me to reprise what I have done before, I try to challenge them with a “new” side of me.