"The Salt Lake Symphony celebrated the season of giving on Saturday with a heartwarming concert dedicated to the proposition that one person can make a difference. The concert's centerpiece was the newly orchestrated version of Phillip Bimstein's song cycle 'A Secret Gift,' based on Ted Gup's book of the same name ... (Red Rock Rondo) fit seamlessly with the orchestra and choir. The colors of Bimstein's, Kate MacLeod's and Hal Cannon's voices blended with the students' in a most charming way; the instrumental accompaniment deftly evoked 1930s America."
"Composer Phillip Bimstein celebrates the human and natural landscapes in and around Utah's Zion National Park with music that features the area's stories, voices and natural sounds." Hear the interview with musical excerpts, and see photos of the subjects of his music including Red Rock Rondo songs.
The other five members of Red Rock Rondo smile at each other and silently laugh when Phillip Bimstein sings the individual symphonic parts of his score. Not that he’s off-key—it’s just amusingly impressive to hear the bespectacled conductor mimic cello, then clarinet and so on.
"magnificent ... a sensitivity and clarity rarely achieved by the poets ... exemplary ... a perfect record for Zion Park."
“It's a very engaging and interesting conceptual album, both musically and substantively."
“Zion National Park turns 100 years old in 2009 ... Perhaps nothing will celebrate the park and its past quite as uniquely as the band Red Rock Rondo does on its new ‘Zion Canyon Song Cycle‘ album. The 16 songs are the result of research ... oral histories and historic materials that infuse the album's songs with imagery that take the listener back in time, and right to the doorstep of Zion's majestic topography.”
"Folk/Americana music with well-spun yarns"
“The CD is a delight ... You can consider the CD a hit."
"The Great Depression was especially cruel in the industrial town of Canton, Ohio, where nearly 50 percent of workers were jobless during the holiday season of 1933. Amid the despair, businessman Sam Stone — who had known hard times of his own — devised a secret way to help suffering townspeople. Stone's gift came to light three years ago, and its influence continues to grow. The book A Secret Gift by Stone's grandson Ted Gup tells a compelling story that has prompted other anonymous gifts. The story inspired Utah composer Phillip Bimstein to write a song cycle on the theme of giving. Bimstein's contemporary folk ensemble, Red Rock Rondo, will perform a newly orchestrated version of "A Secret Gift" with the Salt Lake Symphony and West Jordan High School Choir."
Composer Phillip Bimstein conjures the ghosts, heroines and tensions of Southwest Utah and, with Red Rock Rondo, makes them sing. ... Zion Canyon Song cycle is unlike any musical composition we’ve ever heard. It’s an ambitious synthesis of art song and folk song, history and myth, boosterism and poetry. ... These songs deserve to reach beyond their birthplace. Would that they will. And would that every town – with its ghosts, big rocks, tensions and tragedies -- could attract and keep an alchemist in residence."
"The best local album of the year comes from six Utah musicians who blend classical song structures with organic folk, telling a story about the state that is rich, evocative and loving....A gorgeous, lively assortment of alternative classical music using traditional bluegrass instrumentation, with harmony vocals singing about the Watchman, Angel's Landing and the Virgin River."
"'Long as I can remember, I've been enthralled by vintage photographs. ... The best songwriters are every bit as capable and effective in capturing memories of the human experience. And, in the instance where no camera was present, can reconstruct the events with such vivid clarity that you'll never miss the picture. Zion Canyon Song Cyclecaptures the landscape, heritage, and contemporary work-a-day world of Utah’s Zion National Park. ... As with any family album worth its salt,Zion Canyon Song Cycle covers both the milestones and the mundane. ... it is not Western music, but rather music of the West. "
"I have played it quite a bit----a brilliant piece of work. So rarely does material come in that just jumps out at you and moves you---I cannot think of any one piece that overshadows any of the others on this work. Though-personally-I cannot get enough of 'The Boy Who Never Saw A Train.' What a picture it paints."
“The recording is beautiful, inside and out ... the breadth and magnitude of the material. This is a big work! The sound is a good (and refreshing) balance between chamber and ‘folk’ instruments - there is a natural intertwining of textures and melody lines, and the vocals are great. The vocal presence is warm and up-front. I’m looking forward to listening more, and to really hearing the stories.”
“The CD is awesome! I love the feel of the album. There's a lot of history there. I admire your talent for making the people and events come alive. Congratulations on the creation of a wonderful work of art.”
“The Red Rock Rondo CD is magnifico. Really and truly. I just love the CD. The tunes, the arrangements, the harmonies and the stories behind everything. It's just so wonderful. I want to go down there to Springdale and find all the places you sing about.”