Kurt Bestor, the Grammy-nominated Emmy award-winning composer, joined Paul Cardall on his podcast “All Heart” to discuss his annual Christmas concert, his career up to now and his newest Christmas album.
Bestor and Cardall have a unique relationship in that they both grew up in Salt Lake City playing piano, and while Bestor was creating a name for himself locally Cardall viewed Bestor as a sort of musical mentor to him.
The two talk about a time in which they were out together early on in Bestor’s career when he first started booking shows and Bestor gave Cardall a piece of advice about setting his worth as a musician.
“I remember telling you, ‘Paul, if you set your ticket price at a local price, you will always be a local price ticket guy. If you set your price like big-time, even if you don’t feel like you necessarily are, you will be known as that.’ And I think that was kind of a stroke of luck for me.”
That kind of confidence early on is truly what propelled Bestor’s career alongside the many influences which he attributes with his early music such as Dave Grusin, Aaron Copland and Ennio Morricone.
Through those composers and his family’s musical inclinations, Bestor never really envisioned a path for himself other than in music, and his resolve paid off. He explains that he had a connection early on with the way in which music not only garnered attention from his elementary school classmates but eventually invited the attention of girls.
“This is why we do what we do to some degree. At least anyway. That was what taught me that women like sensitive guys that play piano much more than the jocks on the football team. And I’m sticking with that theory.”
From there, Bestor jokes, he knew what he wanted to pursue, and has done so with great success.
One of his most notable accomplishments to date is the deeply impactful acapella vocal song which Bestor created in response to the civil war which took place in the former country of Yugoslavia titled “Prayer of the Children.” The song has since taken a life of its own and is sung in hundreds of choirs around the world and has been translated to many different languages.
Bestor shares that if he had to choose, that song is probably the one he feels most proud of.
“It’s not Shakespeare. The melody isn’t Beethoven, but somehow everything together, it just strikes a chord and kind of blows me away…If I die tomorrow, I’ll be glad that that’s the song I’m known for,” he says.
Another facet of his career which is likely to become a part of his legacy is the annual Christmas concert which he hosts in Salt Lake City. It has become a staple in the holiday season and this year, despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, Bestor is proud to host its 33rd year.
Now more than ever, Bestor feels that people need this show, musicians and fans alike, because of the treasured element of human connection.
Even so, Bestor recognizes that not all fans will be able to attend his show, and for that reason he’ll be releasing his first Christmas album in two decades. This album, which includes songs from his show that he’s never recorded before, is titled Christmas Time is Here.
Despite being one of the most notable composers and performers in modern history, when asked what he wanted to be remembered for, Bestor answered simply: a good person.
“I hope that it’s less about the crowds and the fans and all that kind of fake stuff. I kind of hope that it’s more about the ‘he was a nice guy.’ I hope that I can be known as a nice person that would do things for people or that would use my music, because that’s what I use, to kind of help folks.”
His humility, immense talent and heart for philanthropy is unlikely to go unnoticed now or ever.
Check out tickets for the live stream of A Kurt Bestor Christmas here as well as his newest Christmas album below.