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Red Rock Rondo with Vilo Demille in Grafton Cemetery TJ Taylor

Zion Canyon Song Cycle is 16 new Americana songs celebrating the history and contemporary life of Zion National Park and its neighboring communities. Ghosts in Grafton, stolen quilts in Rockville and moonlight sonatas in Springdale are some of the colorful stories told - while the Watchman, Angel's Landing, the Virgin River and the Great White Throne are some of the stunning places visited in live concerts and the CD of interrelated songs.

Zion Canyon Song Cycle is performed by Red Rock Rondo, a six-member ensemble, on a lively assortment of guitars, violins, oboe, English horn, button accordion, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, mandocello, jaw harp, upright bass and vocals. Red Rock Rondo includes award-winning composer Phillip Bimstein, internationally-known recording artist Kate MacLeod, Deseret String Band founder Hal Cannon, former Cowdaddy Harold Carr, and Salt Lake Symphony members Flavia Cerviño-Wood and Charlotte Bell.

Zion Canyon Song Cycle was composed by Phillip Bimstein and drawn from oral histories and source materials he gathered in Rockville and Springdale, where he served two terms as mayor. The work was commissioned by Continental Harmony, a major initiative of the American Composers Forum and the National Endowment for the Arts. Described by Outside magazine as “America's only all-natural politician-composer,” Phillip Bimstein's works have been performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Aspen Music Festival, London’s Royal Opera House, on NPR and, with his 1980s new wave rock rock group Phil 'n' the Blanks, on MTV.

Phillip Bimstein in front of the Watchman Lin Alder

"I had always wanted to write a cycle of songs about one place, one people," said Bimstein. "My heart was especially drawn to write this work about Zion Canyon, a powerful landscape that drew me all the way from Chicago to set down new roots. The songs express both the geology and the culture that sharply defines my home - many-layered, abutting the old and the new, crosscutting between the stories of a diverse people, embracing fault lines and natural bridges alike.

When I moved there in 1988 the community was deeply polarized, but within a few years it evolved to become a model of civility, consensus and collaboration. While much of that work was political, its seeds were first planted socially and culturally. I want to see those seeds nurtured and sustained. That's where these songs come in. They not only keep the community's stories alive, but I hope they help cultivate common ground, enhance our mutual sense of place and develop deeper understanding between generations."

The early pioneers thought the West Temple, the highest peak in Zion Canyon, looked like a steamboat sailing high on the horizon, and so they called it Steamboat Mountain. Taking its name and inspiration from the local imagination, Steamboat Mountain Records is proud to release Red Rock Rondo's CD, Zion Canyon Song Cycle.

Red Rock Rondo in Pine Creek Canyon Dan Nestel

In keeping with the local and historical themes of the music, Red Rock Rondo's Zion Canyon Song Cycle CD is adorned with two paintings by Rockville artist, Kate Starling, and includes a 24-page color booklet with stories and lyrics of each song. Designed by David Krummenacher at KUED Channel 7, the CD art also includes stills from the Red Rock Rondo PBS music special and DVD, produced by the Western Folklife Center and KUED.

Red Rock Rondo, the Zion Canyon Song Cycle CD and the accompanying 2009 TV special/DVD are all signature projects of Zion National Park's 2009 Centennial, "A Century of Sanctuary." The Zion Canyon Song Cycle CD was recorded and mixed by Michael Greene at Counterpoint Studios with the generous support of the Zion Natural History Association and the Utah Arts Council, with additional production support from the Western Folklife Center. Zion Natural History Association, the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies and the Utah Humanities Council provided invaluable research assistance.