A Secret Gift is a new Americana folk/symphonic song cycle inspired by recently found letters from the Great Depression written in response to an anonymous gift giver on the eve of Christmas in 1933. Lives were changed by the generous offer of a helping hand. The story of these letters is told in the bestselling book by Ted Gup, A Secret Gift (Penguin Press 2010).
RED ROCK RONDO
Red Rock Rondo is an Emmy Award-winning chamber folk ensemble consisting of six of Utah’s best-known musicians: composer Phillip Bimstein, Kate MacLeod, Hal Cannon, Charlotte Bell, Flavia Cervino-Wood and Harold Carr, performing on piano, guitars, violins, oboe, English horn, concertina, harmonica, bass and vocals. Their music is a well-crafted synergy of folk, jazz and classical, woven into a truly original Americana style.
A SECRET GIFT
Phillip Bimstein composed the new 14-song cycle for Red Rock Rondo and then scored 8 of the songs for full orchestra and 165-voice choir. Red Rock Rondo performed A Secret Gift December 2011 with the Salt Lake Symphony, conducted by Robert Baldwin, and the West Jordan High School Concert Choir, directed by Kelly DeHaan. The concert was recorded live by Bob Abeyta of Bel Canto Recording, and the tracks were engineered, edited and mixed by Michael Greene at Rotosonic Sound. The CD was mastered by David Glasser at Airshow in Boulder, Colorado.
A Secret Gift begins with “Secret Prelude,” an instrumental meditation on generosity and compassion. Immediately following, “Silent Snow” tells how secret gifts were given to an entire community:
Silent snow falls so light
On an evening bright in old Ohio
Mercy falls to waiting hands
From a generous man nobody knows
Each ensuing song portrays a different letter or story from that era: the struggles of single women (“Work Sleep Love”), the tragedies and triumphs of grueling dance contests (“The Last Marathon Dance”), a 14-year-old girl’s touching plea for food and clothing (“Dear Sir”), and a lighthearted celebration of a surprising but necessary food staple of that time (“Dandelions”).
JUST UNDER THE WIRE … A HORSE ON WHEELS!
Just under the wire, one last song raced in—on the back of a horse on wheels! Red Rock Rondo’s new CD was completely recorded when the creativity of photographer Roz Newmark and artist Edie Roberson inspired one more trip to the piano. Edie Roberson’s whimsical trompe-l’oeil painting, “Serendipity,” graces the CD jacket cover (designed by Sandy Bell).
Her personal collection of antique toys includes a toy horse on wheels which Newmark photographed for the inner jacket. Recalling one of the book’s stories, about a little girl who received a toy pull-horse for Christmas (as a result of the secret gift to her parents), Bimstein responded to Newmark’s evocative still-life by quickly composing “Horses on Wheels” as a wishful coda.
PREVIOUS WORK BY PHILLIP BIMSTEIN AND RED ROCK RONDO
Phillip Bimstein's compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Spoleto and Aspen Music Festivals, London’s Royal Opera House—and his new wave band's videos appeared regularly on MTV in the 1980s. Red Rock Rondo’s first CD, Zion Canyon Song Cycle, was #10 on the national Folk DJ charts (with the #7 song), and was deemed the “best local album of the year” by the Salt Lake Tribune’s David Burger. The Red Rock Rondo TV music special has been broadcast on many PBS stations nationally, including repeated times on KUED, and in 2010 it won 2 regional Emmy Awards including “Best Musical Composition.”