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Red Rock Rondo


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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 Zion 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 Starling's (www.kstarling.com) 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 MySpace, the Western Folklife Center and at www.redrockrondo.com.

In October, 2010, Red Rock Rondo received two Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards:

Best Arts Entertainment Program (Hal Cannon & Taki Telonidis producers)
Best Musical Composition (Phillip Bimstein, composer)

Find video here at YouTube


Red Rock Rondo film and DVD

Red Rock Rondo: Zion Canyon Song Cycle CD

The Western 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 celebration.

One might expect a television production to showcase the land—the place—itself. 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 just beauty—majestic landscapes—realization 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 herethat's what. A place is for livinga 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.

Jeri Dobrowski 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 Composers’ Forum.

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 here.) 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.

The 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 CD www.redrockrondo.com.






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