‘Mr. Christmas’ Kurt Bestor brings the cheer
Kurt Bestor 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21, and Saturday, Dec. 22, and at 6 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, Dec. 23-25. $34 to $50 435-649-9371 parkcityshows.com
Emmy Award-winning composer Kurt Bestor — known locally as “Mr. Christmas” because of the extravagant, orchestral holiday concerts he’s performed for the past 31 years in the greater Salt Lake City area — started playing intimate acoustic holiday concerts at the Egyptian Theatre in 2010.
They started off as solo piano and flugelhorn (a brass instrument that resembles a trumpet) performances, which have expanded to include his acoustic band and a variety of musical guests.
“It’s funny, because I think we’ve got a bit of a tradition brewing with these shows,” Bestor said. “I don’t know how many years it takes to qualify as a tradition, but I think we’re (getting close).”
Kurt Bestor will return to Park City for a five-night run from Friday, Dec. 21, to Christmas day Tuesday, Dec. 25, at the Egyptian Theatre. This year, he and his band will be joined by Provo singer Madilyn Paige.
“I’m rarely able to get guests to come and appear the whole run with me, because it’s just a tough time of the year for people to get away from their families,” he said. “But she’s going to be with me all five nights.”
Paige, a native of Provo, competed on the sixth season of NBC’s competition show “The Voice,” and Bestor said he’s happy to have someone with her talent performing in his concerts.
“I got to know Madilyn like everyone else,” he said. “I watched her on ‘The Voice’ and was treed by her. She has a unique huskiness to her sound that plays well with pop and jazz.”
Paige asked Bestor to arrange a couple of songs for her to sing, comprising “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Mary Do You Know,” which Bestor hasn’t arranged before.
“‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ is the song that, if you’re in a bad Christmas mood, and you put it on, you won’t be sad anymore,” he said. “‘Mary Do You Know” is a very beautiful song that is extremely popular in Utah.”
Paige will also perform Bestor’s signature composition, “Prayer of the Children.”
“It’s been fun over the past five or six years to have someone else sing that song,” Bestor said. “It’s nice to add their voice to a song that I have done all of these years.”
To hear that song in a more intimate setting such as the Egyptian Theatre gives it a different aesthetic, the composer said.
“The Salt Lake shows are big, frenetic and great to play, but when I get to Park City, it becomes a more relaxing performance,” he said.
The intimate setting can also prove to be a little more challenging, according to Bestor.
“With the big shows, you have all of these people wrapped around you, so chances are if you make a mistake they will pick up the ball,” he said. “When you play an intimate concert like I do in Park City, people know if I make a mistake. You’re right there in front of everybody. I mean, I’m literally two feet away from the front row.”
Over the past nine years, however, the Park City shows have grown in popularity.“I know people in the Park City area just plan to come to the shows as part of their Christmas celebrations,” he said. “There are also some people from Salt Lake City who tell me they like to decide if they want to go to the big show in Salt Lake City or come to Park City.”
Bestor personally enjoys spending his Christmas with his family in Park City.
“Once we finish the concerts, we sleep in on Dec. 26,” he said. “It’s a natural antidote to the frenetic nature of the big shows.”
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