P H I L L I P   B I M S T E I N


“Phillip Bimstein uses the voices, natural sounds and culture of his adopted home in his compositions, and he practices politics with music in mind.“

                                    - National Public Radio’s All Things Considered


Phillip Bimstein’s works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Aspen Music Festival, Spoleto Festival, London’s Royal Opera House, on PBS, NPR, MTV, and by ensembles such as Relâche, Turtle Island String Quartet, Modern Mandolin Quartet and the California E.A.R. Unit. He has received grants and awards from the NEA, Meet The Composer, American Composers Forum, Austria’s Prix Ars Electronica and a recent Emmy Award.


Beginning with his underground (though above-pasture) hit, Garland Hirschi’s Cows, his work has been reviewed in The New York Times (“the irresistible charm of Bimstein's music”), Washington Post (“handsomely crafted ... first-rate”), Stereo Review, Stereophile, Fanfare, Wired, Village Voice and Schwann Opus (“a virtual breath of fresh air”).


The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams wrote of Bimstein’s second CD, Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica: “Like their composer, the pieces on this album communicate a generous and good-natured spirit that is tempered with wry wit and a special sense of the western landscape and culture that he so loves.”


In the 1980s Bimstein led the new wave band Phil ‘n’ the Blanks (Billboard: “snappy and irreverent”). Then his conservatory training led him back to classical music, and in 1997 Bimstein was awarded Meet The Composer’s largest grant, the three-year New Residencies. One of his residency-created works, Half Moon at Checkerboard Mesa, has been performed by well over 100 musicians all over the world.


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 Terry Tempest Williams, was described as “sublime - elegant perfection” by the Deseret News. 


In 2006 Bimstein received his second Continental Harmony grant from the American Composers Forum to compose Zion Canyon Song Cycle based on oral histories from his community. Performed by Red Rock Rondo, it is the subject of an Emmy Award winning PBS -TV music special, which also won for best musical composition. In 2011 Bimstein composed a new song cycle for Red Rock Rondo based on the best-selling book by Ted Gup, A Secret Gift.


Described by Outside Magazine as “America's only all-natural politician-composer,” Bimstein served two terms as Springdale mayor. He’s served as Chair of the Utah Humanities Council and Vice-President of the American Music Center in New York. Bimstein teaches “Composing a Community”  in the University of Utah’s Honors College, and is a frequent keynote speaker on music and dialogue. Information about Bimstein’s music and other projects can be found at his website:

New Political Science article

New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture, "Composing a Community: Collaborative Performance of a New Democracy"