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Phillip Bimstein

Salt Lake City, UT      

“Phillip Bimstein uses the voices, natural sounds and culture of his adopted home in his compositions, and he practices politics with music in mind.“

                          – National Public Radio’s All Things Considered

Alternative classical composer Phillip Bimstein lives in Salt Lake City and Springdale, Utah, where he served two terms as mayor. A recipient of grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, American Composers Forum, Austria’s Prix Ars Electronica and an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Bimstein’s music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Bang on a Can Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the Spoleto Festival and London’s Royal Opera House.

Ensembles who have performed Bimstein’s works include Relâche, Turtle Island String Quartet, Modern Mandolin Quartet, Present Music, Abramyan String Quartet, Sierra Winds, Equinox Chamber Players, the California E.A.R. Unit and Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues.

A Starkland CD of Bimstein’s music, Garland Hirschi’s Cows, garnered rave reviews internationally in such publications as Stereo Review, Wired, Fanfare, Stereophile, and this from Schwann Opus: “A highly entertaining, populist-oriented collection of serious modern music. Bimstein’s compositions are a virtual breath of fresh air.”

Starkland released a second CD of Bimstein’s compositions, Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica, in 2006. In the New York Times review of the CD, Steve Smith wrote, “the irresistible charm of Mr. Bimstein’s music has less to do with technology than with his uncanny knack for finding the music of everyday life.”

The composer John Adams wrote, “Like their composer, the pieces on this album communicate a generous and good-natured spirit that is tempered with wry wit and a special sense of the western landscape and culture that he so loves.” 

In 1997 Bimstein was awarded Meet The Composer’s largest grant, the three-year New Residencies, during which he composed music that celebrates and explores the intimate relationship between the landscapes of the desert southwest and the many cultures that have inhabited the area. One of the residency-created works, Half Moon at Checkerboard Mesa, has been performed by well over 150 musicians all over the world.     

In 2006 Bimstein received his second Continental Harmony grant from the American Composers Forum to compose Zion Canyon Song Cycle based on the historical and contemporary stories of his community. Performed by his Americana folk chamber group Red Rock Rondo, it is the subject of an Emmy Award winning PBS -TV music special, which also won Bimstein an Emmy for music composition. 

Described by Outside Magazine as “America’s only all-natural politician-composer,” Bimstein served two terms as Springdale mayor. Due to his successful efforts to bring harmony to his previously divided community, Parade Magazine dubbed Bimstein, “The Man Who Brought Civility Back to Town.” In 2017 Bimstein gave a TEDx Talk about his work, “How to Practice Politics with Music in Mind.”

Bimstein has served as Chair of the Utah Humanities Council and Vice-President of the American Music Center. He is a frequent keynote speaker on creativity, community and collaboration. Information about Bimstein’s music and other projects can be found at his website: www.bimstein.com

Articles by Phillip Bimstein:

NewMusicBox November 1 2003 | By Phillip Bimstein
Composing a Community Dialogue

A quintet sits on a raised platform at the front of the hall. Although they perform together, they are not always in tune with each other. Sometimes they even sound...

NewMusicBox March 1 2003 | By Phillip Bimstein
The Trick of Retreating

“My freedom will be so much greater and more meaningful, the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraints,...