Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Charles Bestor Papers
Charles Bestor, a native of New York City, received his musical training under Paul Hindemith at Yale University, Vincent Persichetti and Peter Mennin at the Juilliard School of Music and independently under the electronic music composer Vladimir Ussachevsky. He also holds degrees from Swarthmore College (Phi Beta Kappa) and the Universities of Illinois and Colorado.
Bestor's early works were largely dodecophonic, with a strong grounding in Hindemithian counterpoint. The New York Times described his early Piano Sonata as "a dissonant, tightly organized working out of clear and dramatic motives; explosive and vigorous declamations with sweep and power." In his more recent music, much of it in the electronic medium, Bestor has increasingly explored the integration of jazz-derived, tonally-based harmonic, melodic and rhythmic elements into the formal structures of conventional concert music. The Boston Globe spoke of his In Memoriam Bill Evans as "lush, urbane, shrewdly paced, neatly transferring some quality modern- jazz orchestration to a related and congenial symphonic territory," and the Salt Lake Tribune, writing of his earlier jazz-based orchestral work, "Until a Time", referred to its "searching treatment of melodic and percussive ideas; a witty piece, interspersed with bits of Stravinsky and Poulenc, but highly original in sound."
Bestor has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Composer's Fellowship and was a winner in the 1999 Bourges (France) International Electro-Acoustic Music Competition. He was also the winner of the Main Prize in the 1996 Musica Nova International Competition of the Czech Republic and first prize winner in the Omaha Symphony's 1994 International Orchestral Competition. He has also received awards in the New England Philharmonic and Quinto Maganini Orchestra Competitions, New England Composers' Orchestra Competition, LGBA National Wind Competition, the David Lipscomb Prize and the Delius Prize for Instrumental Chamber Music, among others.
His works have been commissioned by the Composers String Quartet, the Utah Symphony, the Salem Symphony and the Five-College Symphony Orchestras, the Utah Bicentennial Commission, the Peter Britt Festival, Phi Beta National Professional Fraternity and a number of individual performers.
Bestor has collaborated, as a composer, with the sculptor Sherry Healy on the installation "Pathways from the Dream Spell Series" which was exhibited at the Chicago International Art Exposition at Navy Pier, the Illinois State Museum, the Michigan Art Park and the Chicago ARC Gallery. He also collaborated with the visual artist Barbara Cornett and the lighting designer John Wade on the installation "Cycles" , which was commissioned by the Maier Museum of American Art and has since toured extensively throughout the mid-Atlantic states. He has subsequently collaborated with Ms. Cornett and Mr. Wade on the installation "Into the Labyrinth", commissioned by the Fine Arts Center of the Virginia Museum in Lynchburg and "The Unfound Door", commissioned by the College Music Society, which has been widely seen and heard in its video and tape versions.
For many years Bestor has pursued a parallel career as a teacher and administrator. He was for a decade on the faculty and administration of the Juilliard School of Music and subsequently served as Dean of the College of Music of Willamette University and as Head of the Music Departments of the Universities of Massachusetts, Utah and Alabama. He has also taught on the faculty of the University of Colorado and is presently Professor of Composition and Director of the Electronic and Computer Music Studios of the University of Massachusetts.
Bestor is a Fellow of the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Ragdale Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland. He is listed in Marquis' Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World, the International Who's Who in Music, the Dictionary of International Biography, Joseph Machlis' Introduction to Contemporary Music and a number of professional who's whos.
The above biographical sketch was taken from Charles Bestor's faculty web site found at http://www-vms.oit.umass.edu/~bestor/