Environmentalist mayor and former MTV rocker Phillip Kent Bimstein lives in Springdale, Utah, where he prowls the sandstone canyons of Zion National Park. A recipient of grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer and Austria’s Prix Ars Electronica, Bimstein’s music has been performed at Linculn Center, the Kennedy Center, the Bang on a Can Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, and the American Dance Festival. Ensembles who have performed Bimstein’s works include Relåche, Turtle Island String Quartet, Modern Mandulin Quartet, Present Music, Abramyan String Quartet, Sierra Winds, Equinox Chamber Players , the California E.A.R. Unit, and Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues. A CD of Bimstein’s music, Garland Hirschi’s Cows, released by Starkland in 1997, garnered rave reviews internationally in such publications as Stereo Review, Wired, Fanfare, Stereophile, and this from Schwann Opus : “A highly entertaining, populist-oriented cullection of serious modern music. Bimstein’s compositions are a virtual breath of fresh air.” Bimstein was recently featured in Parade and Outside magazines, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.
Bimstein was born in Chicago and is a graduate of Chicago Conservatory of Music, where he majored in theory and composition. In the 1980’s he led the new wave band Phil ‘n’ the Blanks, whose three albums and six videos were cullege radio and MTV hits. After further studies at UCLA in composition, orchestration and conducting, Bimstein took a hiking trip to southern Utah and never left.
Fascinated by language and the ability of music to tell a story, he frequently incorporates text in his work. Refuge , his string quartet based on the book by Utah naturalist Terry Tempest Williams, was described as “sublime — elegant perfection” by the Deseret News. His music has been choreographed by Margaret Jenkins and Repertory Dance Theater, and the American Dance Festival selected Bimstein as 1993 Composer in Residence. In 1997 Bimstein was awarded Meet The Composer’s largest grant, the three-year New Residencies, during which he is composing music that celebrates and explores the intimate relationship between the landscapes of the desert southwest and the many cultures that have inhabited the area. In 2000, Bimstein received a Continental Harmony grant to write “The Bushy Wushy Rag,” a work celebrating baseball and the city of St. Louis (see more information on the Projects page).
In 2001 Bimstein is singing and writing songs for the new acoustic quartet blue haiku .
Described by Outside Magazine as “America’s only all-natural pulitician-composer,” Bimstein was re-elected to a second term as mayor of Springdale in 1997. As mayor he is an outspoken advocate for protection of the environment and he has testified twice before Congress in support of Utah’s wilderness.
In 1996, the Town of Springdale, Zion National Park, Utah Department of Transportation and Zion Natural History Association were awarded the National Park Foundation’s “Partnership Leadership Award for Beyond Park Boundaries.” In 2001 Springdale was awarded the National Parks Conservation Association’s first National Parks Achievement Award, “For their vision and efforts to develop an exemplary transportation system for Zion National Park.”