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Kenji BunchKenji Bunch enjoys a multifaceted career as both a violist and a composer. The founding violist of the Flux Quartet (1997-2002), and the performing composer group Ne(x)tworks (2003-2011), Bunch now appears frequently in recitals, master classes, and as a regular guest at chamber music festivals and tours. He has also been widely recognized for the performance of his own groundbreaking works for viola, which were recently recorded on his debut CD “Unleashed!” on Bulging Disc Records.

Comfortable in many musical styles, Bunch has collaborated extensively with many prominent non-classical musicians, and performs regularly as a bluegrass fiddler. As a composer, his works have been performed on six continents by over forty orchestras, and have been broadcast and recorded worldwide on numerous labels, including Sony Classical, EMI, and RCA.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Kenji studied viola with Toby Appel and composition with Robert Beaser at the Juilliard School.


The Chintimini connection

Kenji first appeared at Chintimini in 2007 as violist and composer, with his “Cookbook,” and “String Circle,” a quintet. The festival was celebrating the 150th birthday of the city of Corvallis by presenting works of 6 Oregon composers: Jacob Avshalomov, Ernest Bloch, Kenji Bunch, Mike Curtis, Fritz Gearhart, and Victor Steinhardt. After the all-Oregon concert, the five living composers formed a panel, sharing memories and taking questions from the audience. Kenji was here from NYC, but had grown up in Portland. We learned he had been principal viola in Avshalomov’s Portland Youth Philharmonic – the oldest (and reputedly the best) youth symphony in the nation. One discovery was that Corvallis-bred violist Adam Matthes, who had played Jacob Avshalomov’s Sonatine the night before, had been coached on it by the composer in the very same room at Eastman where Avshalomov had written it as a student in 1943. And we heard about the conversations Bloch had held with his friend Avshalomov while writing his own 2nd quartet – which we had just heard performed.

composers

L-R: Gearhart, Steinhardt, Bunch, Avshalomov, Curtis

Kenji and Monica have been part of the festival nearly every year since.. For 2010 he composed a double concerto ”Verso,” for violin, viola, and strings, on commission from Chintimini. May 2013 saw the third performance and Northwest premiere of Kenji’s piano concerto, played by his wife Monica Ohuchi with the Corvallis Youth Symphony.

June 2013 saw our premiere of a trio commissioned by the Chintimini Festival through a prestigious Chamber Music America Commissioning grant — and a Coast-to-Coast move. Kenji, Monica, and their rescued pit bull Coffee returned from New York City to Portland — where Kenji is Artistic Director of Fear No Music, Monica is its Executive Director, and Coffee helps entertain their two very young children.

The premiere performances of Kenji’s Symphony #3 Dream Songs, which draws on Native American musical elements, were June 19 and 20, 2015 in Chicago, with the Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra and Chorus. The following day he joined us in Corvallis at the Chintimini Festival.