To honor the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death, it will be performed for only the second time Sunday at Peachtree Presbyterian Church’s fifth annual American Pops Concert in Buckhead.
“I was anxious to play the piece again,” said Bestor, who lives in Salt Lake City. “It had its world premiere in Dallas a block away from the grassy knoll. I had such a good time playing the piece, so I wanted to play it again. The [church’s] director [of music], Mary Hoffman, asked me to come. … JFK’s message is very timely. I’d like people to hear that message again. He was way ahead of his time and his vision of equality, of no separations of the races and so forth, may be something that bears repeating these days.
“It was incredibly moving as a composer to hear my music and hear his words [in Dallas], right where it happened.”
In addition to “JFK,” the concert also will include musicians, singers and special guests from throughout the Southeast. As in past years, it will have musical favorites ranging from Broadway classics to patriotic anthems and a salute to veterans and the men and women currently serving in the armed forces.
The Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra, led by Juan Ramirez, will also perform.
About 70 percent of “JFK,” which took Bestor a month and a half to write, is his own music, with the rest consisting of old Irish songs and other songs such as “Johnny Comes Marching Home,” he said.
“I had to do a lot of research and decided to use a lot of words of John F. Kennedy,” Bestor said. “During the performance, you will hear a lot of his speeches. The Kennedy Center made those speeches available to us, so we’ll be using three different clips in the performance. … It traces chronologically through his life in general.”
Bestor visits Atlanta often. His late brother John, who died in September, lived in Suwanee, and his niece Megan still lives there.
“I love Atlanta,” he said. “As long as you can hop on MARTA and not have to drive, there’s much to like. The arts crowd is very well educated, but then you’ve also got the good ol’ boy stuff like stopping by the Waffle House. It’s a beautiful city.”
If you go:
o What: The fifth annual American Pops Concert
o When: Sunday at 6 p.m.
o Where: Peachtree Presbyterian Church, 3434 Roswell Road, Buckhead
o Cost: free but the church will take donations
o Information: www.peachtreepres.org