A techno tone poem on the voices and sounds of youth in detention.

Handcuffs, metal detectors and slamming cell doors become unusual musical instruments, and incarcerated teenagers become a streetwise chorus in composer Phillip Bimstein’s three-movement musical work based on his volunteer work with youths confined in the Washington County Youth Crisis Center.

Bimstein was awarded the three-year New Residencies grant from Meet the Composer to write music about communities near his home in southern Utah.  As an outgrowth of his arts residency Bimstein made weekly visits to the Washington County Youth Crisis Center, where he mentored the young inmates on creativity, leadership and collaborative citizenship (Bimstein also served two terms as the mayor of Springdale).

Bimstein was deeply affected by his work with the confined teenagers and felt their stories deserved be to be heard.  During his visits Bimstein taped interviews in which the youths expressed their fears, regrets about past crimes, and hopes for the future.  Later he transferred these recordings to his computer.  With an ear to their pitches and rhythmic patterns he then wove their voices into a musical and narrative fabric.

He also recorded a wide range of sounds in the detention center:  slamming cell doors, electronic locks, ratcheting handcuffs, metal detectors, alarms, and the guards’ walkie talkies.  Bimstein digitally processed these sounds on his computer, exploring and mining their musical potential to create a full palette of tone and percussion.  He then composed Lockdown! with funding from the Utah Arts Council’s Artist Grant program.


Commissioned by Meet The Composer’s New Residencies with additional support from the Utah Arts Council.

2006 premiere by blue haiku in Salt Lake City, Utah.

More at the Lockdown Web Page
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Listen to Lockdown! on Spotify