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Musical World

Kenji Bunch

  • Composer
  • Violist
  • Teacher


KENJI BUNCH continues to be recognized for creating works that show a distinctive and appealing musical voice. During the 2005-2006 season, Mr. Bunch’s Lichtenstein Triptych, a Magnum Opus Commission, receives performances by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra gives a performance of Arachnophobia. Double Talk for Marimba, Trumpet and Orchestra was premiered by the East Texas Symphony in September and receives a subsequent performance by the Stockton Symphony. Mr. Bunch has been selected as American Composer-in-Residence at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival for the summer of 2006. Next season, the Mobile Symphony will premiere a new viola concerto as part of Mr. Bunch’s “Music Alive” residency.

Last season, Mr. Bunch’s The Torment of the Metals for Brass Quintet, commissioned by the Extension Ensemble, was premiered in the Guggenheim Museum’s Works and Process Series. Young Concert Artists commissioned Mr. Bunch to write a new work for clarinet and piano, Cookbook, which received its world premiere at the Washington debut of YCA clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester, and Chamber Music Amarillo (TX) commissioned Mr. Bunch to write a Viola Quintet that was premiered by the Harrington String Quartet and the composer on viola. Mr. Bunch’s Broken Music, for cello and piano, was performed at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in February 2005. Mr. Bunch has been commissioned by the English Chamber Orchestra, The Phoenix Symphony, the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, the Naumburg Foundation, the Ahn Trio, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, the Zoom! Festival of New Music, Collegium Novum-Zurich, the New Juilliard Ensemble and Windscape.

His works have been performed at London’s Barbican Hall, Tel Aviv’s Rubin Academy, and New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Museum of Modern Art. YCA violinists Timothy Fain and Nicolas Kendall performed Three American Folk Hymn Settings at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in 2004. Mr. Bunch’s work Sonnet 128 was premiered at the 2003 Tanglewood Music Festival as part of the "Measure for Measure: Shakespeare in Music” Series with Sigourney Weaver as narrator. EMI Classics has released four of Mr. Bunch’s works on CD to critical acclaim: his Fantasy for violin and orchestra, performed by the English Chamber Orchestra and violinist Ittai Shapira, and three works premiered by the Ahn Trio - Swing Shift, Concerto for Piano, Violin, Cello and Percussion, and Slow Dance. Swing Shift has received additional acclaim since its premiere on January 17, 2003, in Lafayette, Louisiana, as a new work choreographed by David Parsons for the Parsons Dance Company.

German record label GENUIN Musikproduktion released Kenji Bunch’s Suite for Viola and Piano this year, featuring YCA alumna Naoko Shimizu. Mr. Bunch was chosen as Young Concert Artists' Composer-in-Residence in 1998. During his two-year tenure, YCA commissioned two works specifically for members of the YCA roster. Suite for Viola and Piano was written for violist Naoko Shimizu, who premiered the piece in the YCA Series in New York and Washington, DC. Mr. Bunch’s second commission, Paraphraseology, was premiered by marimbist Makoto Nakura and violinist Stefan Milenkovich at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, and has been released by Kleos Classics.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Kenji Bunch received his Bachelor’s Degree at The Juilliard School in viola as a student of Toby Appel, and was awarded a Master’s Degree in composition and viola, with Robert Beaser. He has also worked with Eric Ewazen and Stanley Wolfe. Mr. Bunch’s honors include the prestigious William Schuman Prize for Outstanding Leadership in Music and the Lillian Fuchs Prize for Viola and from The Juilliard School, grants from ASCAP (1999 and 2000), Meet The Composer (1999 and 2000), and the Leonard Bernstein Composers' Fund (2000). Mr. Bunch performs frequently as violist and plays fiddle in the bluegrass band Citigrass NYC. He is currently a faculty member at the Juilliard Pre-College program, teaching composition and viola.