Kurt Bestor’s unplugged Christmas concert coming to town
For the past two years, Emmy Award-winning pianist and composer Kurt Bestor has been presenting intimate solo Christmas concerts at the Egyptian Theatre.
This time around, Bestor, who will perform Sunday, Dec. 23, Monday, Dec. 24 and Tuesday, Dec. 25, will bring in a full band.
"I’ve done the solo piano show up there and I thought I’d augment it a little bit," Bestor told The Park Record. "I spoke with (theatre manager) Randy Barton and we thought it was a good idea."
So, acoustic bassist Matt Larson, guitarist Ron Saltmarsh, woodwind specialist Daron Bradford, and a female Irish vocalist, Alex Sharpe will be joining the show, and Bestor is excited for Park City see and hear these artists.
"Having that upright bass is cool to look at and, since it’s made of wood, sounds great," he said. "We do a version of ‘God Rest Ye Jazzy Gentlemen,’ which is a tribute to the late Dave Brubeck and Matt’s bass just adds so much to it."
Saltmarsh was a Nashville session musician who has played with Diamond Rio and Roseanne Cash.
"He lives in Utah now, and I will take advantage of him," Bestor said with a laugh.
Those who have seen the Orchestra at Temple Square or one of Bestor’s annual concerts will recognize Bradford.
"Daron can set the world record for the most woodwind playing in one song," Bestor said. "I wrote a woodwind concerto for him that featured 25 instruments in one song. He is the definitive woodwindist, and the best that I have ever played with. And that includes all the musicians I’ve worked with from Los Angeles and New York."
For the Park City show, Bradford will play the English horn, oboe, recorder, flute, saxophone and more.
"He’s a freak," Bestor said.
Sharpe comes into the group from her home in Ireland.
For years, she sang with the group, Celtic Woman.
"She is joining me for the big annual Christmas shows I’m doing in Salt Lake City, but agreed to stay on for the Park City performances, and she is going to make them something a little more special this year," Bestor said.
A mutual Facebook friend introduced Sharpe to Bestor a few months ago.
"I know a lady from Ireland who suggested that I work with Alex, who had recently left Celtic Woman to spend more time with her nine-year-old son," he said. "The lady told me that Alex admired my work and introduced me to Alex’s Facebook page, so I sent Alex a message and we were off and running."
Sharpe worked with Bestor when he produced and arranged the new Christmas CD, "Noel: Carols of Christmas Past," by Grammy nominated violinist Jenny Oaks Baker, that was released in October.
"Alex came to Utah and recorded three songs for the album and I was so happy with the sound of her voice," he said. "There is something about Irish voices, and while she sings Broadway songs, she also has a lilt that is so delightful."
Sharpe will sing "Oiche Chiuin," the Gaelic version of "Silent Night" and Bestor’s arrangement of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
"She told me that she liked American Christmas songs and wanted to do one," he said.
It was a difficult task getting the band to play the Park City concerts, Bestor laughingly confessed.
"Those days are sacred days, man," he said. "So, not only are they getting some extra cash in their stockings, I had to sweeten the pot and put them up in the beautiful Park City Hotel."
Bestor will also perform with one of the local musicians who participated in the "Park City Shows Our Talent" concert that was held a month ago at the Egyptian Theatre.
"I told Randy that I’d be happy to work with the musician and give him or her the opportunity to perform with me all in an effort to make the performance a Park City concert," Bestor said.
These Park City shows are, in a sense, part of the Bestor’s 25th anniversary of performing Christmas concerts.
"When you say, ’25,’ which is a quarter of a century, you feel like you should have a big brass band behind you, but it’s really a humbling thing for me," he said. "In this day in entertainment, it’s rare to have things last a long time. You have the Pet Rocks of the month, and then don’t know where they are next year.
"So, if you get to make a tradition out of performing a concert every year, you know people have to trust you," Bestor said. "I’m humbled to know that people come to the show because they know we are bringing something they want to see again and again."
As with his past performances, Bestor will hand out a new Christmas song at his Park City concerts.
The song has yet to be titled.
"This year, I asked my Facebook fans if they wanted me to write a song in the traditional 18th century style or something that brings to mind the Great American Songbook," he said. "They, without question, wanted something like Irving Berlin. So, I wrote a song about being home for Christmas. And there is no other place I’d rather be than home during this season."
Kurt Bestor and his band will perform at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Sunday, Dec. 23, Monday, Dec. 24 and Tuesday, Dec. 25, at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $29 to $54 and available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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