Kenji Bunch represents his hometown of Portland, Oregon as “one of the leading American composers of his generation, best known for amalgamating traditional American musical forms.” (Oregon ArtsWatch) While conservatory trained at The Juilliard School, Bunch infuses his music with folk and roots influences achieving an authentic and seamless blend of classical and vernacular styles. “Clearly modern but deeply respectful of tradition and instantly enjoyable,” (The Washington Post) his music has inspired a new genre classification. “Call it neo-American: casual on the outside, complex underneath, immediate and accessible to first-time listeners… Bunch’s music is shiningly original.” (The Oregonian) Deeply sensitive to history, philosophy, and the ways in which the arts are shared intergenerationally and cross-culturally, Bunch incorporates a variety of world music style references which aptly mirror the diversity of international influence on modern American society. Sly, irresistible grooves pepper his work, revealing a deft ability to integrate bluegrass, hip hop, jazz, and funk idioms. His rich, tonal harmonies and drawn-out, satisfying builds have wide emotive appeal that easily lend themselves to dance and film.
Over sixty American orchestras have performed Bunch’s music. His vivid instrumentation “reache(s) into every section of the orchestra to create an intriguing mixture of sonic colors.” (NW Reverb) Recent works include commissions and premieres from the Seattle Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Lark Quartet, the Britt Festival, Music From Angel Fire, Chamber Music Northwest, the Eugene Ballet, Third Angle New Music, the Grant Park Music Festival, and 45th Parallel, with whom he serves as Composer in Residence. All-Bunch concerts have been mounted in New York City, Boston, Denver, Nashville, Mobile (AL) and Portland (OR), as well as at the Perpignon Conservatoire in southern France, the Stamford Festival in England, and The Oranjewoud Festival in The Netherlands. Bunch’s film credits include The Bellman Equation and The Argentum Prophecies, and his extensive discography includes recordings on Sony/BMG, EMI Classics, Koch, Kleos Classics, RCA, Naxos, Pony Canyon, GENUIN, Capstone, MSR Classics, Innova, ARS, and Crystal labels.
Also an outstanding violist, Bunch studied at the Juilliard School, receiving his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in viola with Toby Appel, and in composition with Robert Beaser. Bunch was a founding member of the highly acclaimed ensembles Flux Quartet (1996-2002) and Ne(x)tworks (2003-2011), and played fiddle and sang with the band Citigrass for over 15 years. He is a frequent performer with jazz, pop, folk, country, rock, and experimental musicians, and his collaborations with the dance world include such renowned choreographers as Toni Pimble, David Parsons, Nai-Ni Chen, Kate Skarpetowska, Paul Vasterling, and Darrell Grand Moultrie.
Bunch currently serves as Artistic Director of new music ensemble Fear No Music, and teaches viola, composition, and music theory at Portland State University, Reed College, and for the Portland Youth Philharmonic.