In Tuesday’s (3/9) Oregonian (Portland), David Stabler writes, “When the Portland Youth Philharmonic sits down to play the heroic, wind-swept Fifth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich on Saturday, look for an old dude sitting in the viola section, playing his heart out. OK, he’s not that old, but at 36, with a few gray hairs, he’s way older than the kids around him. His name is Kenji Bunch and he and the PYP go back. After playing in the orchestra for five years (1986-91)—’I loved it, it really set me on the path to being a musician’—he graduated from Wilson High School in 1991 and went to The Juilliard School as a violist. … Bunch is back in Portland this week to hear the orchestra play one of his pieces, and he couldn’t resist asking PYP music director David Hattner if he could also sit in the back of the viola section to play the Shostakovich symphony. … Commissioned by the Kalamazoo Symphony in Michigan, the idea for Bunch’s piece came from the Michigan State Senate, which wanted a work for the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial last year. … Bunch’s overture-length piece is called ‘For Our Children’s Children’ and is based on a speech Lincoln gave to a regiment of army soldiers in Ohio.”

Photo by Erica Lin

Posted March 10, 2010