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Red Rock Rondo tells the stories of the
people and the place of Utah's Zion Canyon through a cycle of songs
composed by Phillip Bimstein and a film produced by Hal Cannon and Taki
Telonidis for the Western Folklife Center.
Red Rock Rondo—the public television
special, the DVD, and the music CD—are all signature projects of the
National Park's 2009 Centennial, "A Century of Sanctuary."
The stunning film includes rich scenes of natural beauty,
vintage stills and footage, an introduction to some of the songs'
subjects, comments by the musicians, and additional features.
Both the CD and DVD display Rockville, Utah artist Kate
paintings, "Rockville Farm" and "Rockville Garden."
View and listen to National Public Radio's "All Things
Considered" segment about Red Rock Rondo
here. Find more at
Western Folklife Center and at
In October, 2010,
Red Rock Rondo
Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards:
Best Arts Entertainment Program (Hal Cannon & Taki Telonidis producers)
Best Musical Composition (Phillip Bimstein, composer)
Red Rock Rondo film
Red Rock Rondo: Zion Canyon Song
Folklife Center presents Red Rock Rondo, "a musical
documentary film of the people, place and history of
Zion National Park."
From the Western Folklife Center description:
As Utah's Zion National Park turns 100, the Western
Folklife Center in cooperation with KUED TV have produced an hour-long
high-definition television program that has been selected as a signature
project of the Park's Centennial celebration. Red Rock Rondo
explores this spectacular place and its people through their stories put
to music by Phillip Bimstein, former mayor of Springdale, Utah, which
borders the Park. Red Rock Rondo weaves together the contemporary
and historical, creating a rich portrait of this spectacular place and
the people whose lives are so intricately connected to and affected by
it. These songs cover the pioneering of Virgin River Valley by Mormon
settlers in the mid-19th century, to the founding of Zion National Park
in the 20th century, to modern times where retirees, artists and urban
refugees have come to find their own piece of paradise.
Performed by an all-star ensemble on a lively assortment of guitars,
violins, oboe, English horn, mandolin, banjo, mandocello, harmonica,
button accordion, jaw harp, upright bass and vocals, the film also
features the local residents whose stories inspired Red Rock Rondo's
songs. Red Rock Rondo: Zion Canyon Song Cycle is composed by
Phillip Bimstein with musicians Charlotte Bell, Flavia Cerviño-Wood,
Harold Carr, Hal Cannon, and Kate MacLeod. The film was produced by Hal
Cannon and Taki Telonidis for the Western Folklife Center.
Top reciter Jerry Brooks
attended the May 9, 2009 World Premiere of Red
Rock Rondo, in Springdale, Utah. The program included a concert of the
Red Rock Rondo song cycle, followed by the film screening. She
shares her report from the event:
I attended the premiere showing of Red
Rock Rondo in Springdale, Utah, and came away hoping everyone involved
felt rewarded for their efforts.
How often does an audience applaud
during a television show? How often have you wanted to? This audience
was moved to respond and applaud time and again as the song cycle
delighted us and we embraced the experiences of others, the small
extraordinary histories found in Zion Canyon's communities.
We don't always recognize the events in
our lives as worth celebrating. Not every place will be admired. But
isn't it wonderful when we do take the time to focus on people, in the
their places, and recognize ourselves in our own surroundings, in the
Zion of our own making.
Most of us have a place that's special
to us. For many, our home community is precious—people form strong
attachments to place. Some places become famous—like some people. Some
places become preserved—or perverted in the name of preservation (but
that's another subject—not the point of this discussion).
Every now and then, someone manages to
capture the essence of our odd attachment to place, and celebrates it.
Red Rock Rondo is a
One might expect a television
production to showcase the land—the
Wouldn't that satisfy our expectations? A visual expanse, a musical
background. But the land is there—you can go see it. You can photograph
it—paint it—draw it—remember it—describe it. Find it on the internet—in
an atlas—or on a rack of postcards anywhere within a hundred mile radius
of its location.
But what are we celebrating? It's not
of earthy creation so impressive that the visual experience is a solar
plexus blow when we break out on a vista, momentarily indescribable, and
our breath catches—along with our power of description. Not just
that—but what we experience there. What happens in this place?
People live here—that's
what. A place is for living—a
crucible for the stories of lives.
Red Rock Rondo
tells stories. Phillip Bimstein listened to some of the stories of
Zion's communities and with an infusion of musical enhancement, gifted
them back to the tellers, and shared them with the rest of us.
The music is as diverse as the
landscape and the stories. The involvement of all the musicians in this
song cycle creates a rare and wonderful blessing for anyone willing the
listen. The empathy for the tales demonstrated by everyone involved in
this production makes it even more special than simply recognizing the
value of the stories. It realizes the interaction of ordinary folks with
their community and demonstrates the extraordinary way that community
encompasses us all.
Jerry Brooks added that two "bits of
verse infiltrated" her thoughts as she considered the Red Rock Rondo
experience. The first is from Dylan Thomas' "A Refusal To Mourn The Death,
By Fire, Of A Child In London," and she notes it is "taken far out of
context" but that they are some of her favorite lines, anywhere:
And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
The other bit of verse she mention is from Henry David Thoreau's "Inspiration":
I hearing get, who had but ears,
And sight, who had but eyes before;
I moments live, who lived but years,
And truth discern, who knew but learning's lore.
Read more about the Red Rock Rondo film and
DVD and find a video preview and order information
here at the Western Folklife Center web site.
The music CD, Red Rock Rondo: Zion
Canyon Song Cycle, was produced by Steamboat Mountain Records.
The music CD's web site,
www.redrockrondo.com, includes the lyrics and the stories behind the
songs, and information about the composer, Phillip Bimstein, and the other
musicians. The site also includes audio links and other resources.
The CD includes a 24-page insert with photos, stories and
lyrics to all the songs.
wrote about the
Red Rock Rondo: Zion Canyon Song Cycle
in her March, 2009 Cowboy
Jam Session column:
Red Rock Rondo: Zion Canyon Song Cycle
captures the landscape, heritage, and contemporary work-a-day world
of Utah’s Zion National Park. Written by composer Phillip Bimstein,
the 16-tracks are based on oral histories he collected from friends
and neighbors. They portray the area’s imposing rocks, river, and
ubiquitous red soil, inhabited–but never completely tamed–by a cast
of local characters (and maybe a ghost or two). The research,
composition, and performance were funded by a grant from the
nationwide Continental Harmony commissioning program of the American
As with any family album worth its
salt, Zion Canyon Song Cycle
covers both the milestones and the mundane. Performed by the 6-piece
ensemble, Red Rock Rondo (redrockrondo.com),
it is not Western music, but rather music of the West. The vocalists
and musicians employ an assortment of folk and orchestral
instruments: guitars, violins, oboe, English horn, mandolin, banjo,
mandocello, harmonica, button accordion, jaw harp, and upright bass.
(Listen to six full-length tracks
Members of the ensemble are Kate MacLeod, Hal Cannon, Phillip
Bimstein, Harold Carr, Flavia Cerviňo-Wood, and Charlotte Bell.
Included within the above-mentioned
files are two of my favorites: “Marvelous Flood,” recounting Nathan
Tenney’s son’s birth amid an 1862 Virgin River flood, and “Boy Who
Never Saw a Train,” about Tom Mix’s fascination with Lloyd Crawford,
14-year-old boy growing up so rural that he’d never seen a train in
the early 1920s.
Salt Lake Tribune named
Zion Canyon Song Cycle
among their 2008 Top Ten Albums, tapping it as the best local album
of the year. It also appeared in the top ten of the International
Folk DJ Charts with “When President Harding Came to Zion.”
Find order information for the Red Rock Rondo: Zion Canyon Song Cycle