When Kurt Bestor gazes at a mountainside draped in autumn gold, he hears the scene. When he looks at a orange sunrise, he hears the colors. And when he sees scenes of war, he hears the turmoil.
"I see the world through music - that's the language I speak. The music comes into my head, then I write it on paper. I write with visual images. I like to think of my music as `audio snapshots' rather than New Age because it's music I want my listeners to be able to see with their ears," Bestor said in an interview from his Provo Canyon home.In 1988, Bestor chose to translate his vision of Christmas into the enormously successful album "An Airus Christmas." His 1989 Symphony Hall concert was a sellout.
He will again appear at Symphony Hall Nov. 26 with a show that highlights another vision - the changing seasons. And response to the scheduled 8:30 p.m. performance has been so enthusiastic, a second show has been added that night, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Bestor will be performing with his two friends, composers Sam Cardon and Michael Dowdle. All three will be featuring premiere performances from their new albums, playing together and solo.
Bestor has just released, "Seasons"; Cardon's debut album is "Impulse"; and Dowdle is introducing "Touch" - all on the Airus label. The three artists, who have individually gained national acclaim, call their music a cross between New Age and contemporary light jazz.
Though more up-tempo than his Christmas album, "Seasons" reflects the same `musical palate' - piano, acoustic guitar, synthesizer, strings and light percussion. One song conveys the first bud appearing at winter's end; another captures a summer's day off the coast of California. And a composition called, "Sundance" was inspired by the ski resort near Bestor's home.
Composing music to uplift and inspire is a "mission" for Bestor.
"I want to make a difference in peoples' lives. I want to make them feel warm and happy and peaceful in a very unhappy, unpeaceful world," he said.
"I have a spiritual sense about my music. I chose to compose music about the seasons because in this crazy world of change, seasons are something that remain constant. There is reassurance in that. Hopefully, when people want to escape the chaos of life, my music will make them feel safe and reassured."
In 1986, Bestor and Cardon began writing and producing network TV promotional music for a Salt Lake City-based production company. This led to the creation of themes for television specials. In 1988, Bestor and Cardon wrote original music for ABC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, for which they were awarded an Emmy. This year, Bestor composed the theme for ABC's Movie of the Week and Disneyland's 35th Anniversary.
While his work frequently takes him to New York and Los Angeles, Bestor prefers living in his home state of Utah - for the visual inspiration.
Living "just a stone's throw away from Sundance ski resort," Bestor can look outside his window at the sun setting on Mount Timpanogos and feel inspired to write a song. "I love the scenery and the slower-paced lifestyle. I think I'm more creative living here."
Bestor's and his wife, Melodie, have two daughters - Kristin, 9, and Erika, 2 - who inspire his music. The girls are both handicapped with a congenital birth defect that severs nerves, causing paralysis from the thigh down. Yet both girls have been blessed with musical talents and love to sing in front of groups.
"Kristin performs without any fear. It makes her feel important to know there is something she can do very well. Erika loves to sing every song from `The Little Mermaid.'
"Having two kids with handicaps keeps my feet on the ground when I'm tempted to get caught up in the glitz and glamour. I don't need the Grammies or Oscars. I just need the love of my family and to write music that communicates in the purest sense to others," he said.
With the demanding schedules of the three Utah artists - Bestor, Cardon and Dowdle - it's a "miracle" they have found a night they can all perform together, said Bestor.
"We've looked forward to this performance. It's great to be received so warmly in our home state. When we go out of state to perform, we arrive with our national-recording star aura. People in Utah know who we are and are more critical of our performances. We been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic reception."