"A KURT BESTOR CHRISTMAS," Abravanel Hall, Dec. 10, additional performances Dec. 11 and 12, (801-355-2787)
Kurt Bestor promises to take you on a journey at his annual Christmas concert. Actually, he takes you on several. There is, foremost, a journey through a vast and varied repertoire of seasonal music that touches on everything from orchestral/piano arrangements to ragtime, jazz and more.
There's also a journey through centuries of tradition, from age-old carols to a brand new one that Bestor wrote called "It's Christmas Time!"
He also provides a geographical venture, with everything from the American "I Wonder As I Wander" and the French "Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella" to a Cuban-laced "O Tannenbaum," a Celtic "Ding! Dong! Merrily on High" and a Zulu flavored "Joy To the World."
Large video screens take you through the process of making music, with a fascinating look at fingers moving on the keyboard, bows flying across violins and drummers pounding.
Perhaps the best journey of all is the one through the emotions, from the poignancy of "Prayer of the Children" to the peace of "All Through the Night," the fun of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and the joy of everything.
Bestor may be the creative genius behind and the conductor of the trip, but he surrounded himself with a stellar group of musicians to carry it along. Special guest Jonathan Butler of South Africa was delightful as he got down with "Little Drummer Boy" and captured the power and emotion of "O Holy Night." Erika Bestor showed both grace and maturity as she performed with her father on a beautiful "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
Eric Valentine proved he can play the drums in his sleep (or at least blindfolded); Carlitos del Puerto, Michael Dowdle, Todd Sorenson and Aaron Ashton all demonstrated exceptional technique and excitement. The orchestra was equally good.
Magical, color-changing Christmas trees provided wonderful scenery for the ride. And all these musical journeys ended in the same place: the heart of Christmas.