KENJI BUNCH’S NATIVE AMERICAN-INSPIRED SYMPHONY NO. 3: DREAM SONGS MAKES WORLD PREMIERE AT GRANT PARK MUSIC FESTIVAL
The Grant Park Music Festival, the nation’s only free, summer-long outdoor classical music series of its kind, announces the world premiere performances of composer/violist Kenji Bunch’s Native American-themed Symphony No. 3: Dream Songs. A song cycle scored for full orchestra and chorus, Dream Songs will be conducted by Carlos Kalmar with the Grant Park chorus led by Chorus Director Christopher Bell. Dream Songs, 33 minutes, is part of the Festival’s Mozart and Shostakovich program, Friday, June 19 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion of Chicago’s Millennium Park. www.gpmf.org
Kenji Bunch will also lead a special, free Brown Bag Lunch lecture about Dream Songs during a break at the 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Open Rehearsal, Friday, June 19, approximately 12 noon, in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion seating bowl. Bunch will also join Chicago-based journalist Ronald Litke in a public discussion about his work Friday at 5:30 and Saturday at 6:15 as part of Club 615, Grant Park Music Festival’s free, pre-concert lecture series in Millennium Park’s Family Fun Tent.
“In 1879, the Smithsonian Institution created the Bureau of American Ethnology, an ambitious field research program to preserve a record of the native cultures decimated by a century of brutal state-sponsored oppression and terror,” Kenji Bunch said of the origins of his World Premiere work. “Ethnomusicologists and anthropologists working for the BAE spent months at a time on Native American reservations, painstakingly recording and notating tribal folk songs and translating their uncredited texts and poetry. Abstracted from their original voices and ceremonial use, these terse, plain-spoken texts offer timeless wisdom and emotional insights that feel hauntingly relevant in today’s precarious times.”
“Dream Songs is a song cycle scored for full orchestra and chorus adapted from these translations, particularly the work of Frances Densmore. I organized the eight songs of the cycle into three parts: Songs of Anxiety and Unrest; Songs of War and Its Aftermath; and, ultimately, Prayer of Healing,” Bunch explained.
Symphony No. 3: Dream Songs was commissioned by the Grant Park Music Festival with funds from the Prince Prize for Commissioning Original Work, which was awarded to Kenji Bunch and the Grant Park Music Festival in 2014. Additional support has been provided by Joyce Saxon and the Festival’s New Works Fund.
As always, lawn seating for Grant Park Music Festival concerts is free and open to the public. For the first year, the Grant Park Music Festival offers single night passes for reserved seats to any Festival concert. One-night passes to the front-of house seating bowl, starting at $25, are available by calling 312-742-7647 or going online at gpmf.org and selecting your own seats.
Memberships to the Grant Park Music Festival 2015 season are still available, and include reserved seats for every Festival concert, along with exclusive benefits like access to concert receptions and discounts on parking and restaurants. For the first year, the Festival is selling packages of nine or 13 concerts that include reserved seats with complimentary exchange privileges. Memberships begin at $163, and are available by calling 312-742-7647 or visiting gpmf.org.
For more information about the Grant Park Music Festival, visit gpmf.org or call 312.742.7638. For additional information, visit the Grant Park Music Festival Facebook page or follow the Festival on Twitter @gpmf.
About Kenji Bunch
Kenji Bunch, born in Portland, Oregon in 1973, studied at the Juilliard School in New York, where he received his undergraduate degree in viola (1995) and his master’s degree in viola and composition (1997); his principal teachers were Toby Appel in viola and Eric Ewazen, Stanley Wolfe and Robert Beaser in composition. Upon his graduation, Bunch received both the Lillian Fuchs Award in Viola and the William Schuman Prize for Outstanding Leadership in Music, the school’s highest honor. From 1998 to 2000, Bunch was Composer-in-Residence for Young Concert Artists, Inc., composing two works for members of the YCA roster during his tenure; during the 2003-2004 season, he served a two-week residency with the Mobile Symphony under the auspices of the “Music Alive” program of Meet the Composer and the League of American Orchestras. Bunch has received commissions from such noted ensembles and artists as the English Chamber Orchestra, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Windscape, Ahn Trio, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Zoom! Festival of New Music, Collegium Novum-Zurich, New Juilliard Ensemble, percussionist Daniel Druckman and the Omaha Symphony. Bunch’s music has been performed widely, broadcast on NPR, BBC and German and Korean national television, and recorded on the EMI Classics, Pony Canyon, Kleos Classics and Helicon labels. Kenji Bunch is also continuing his career as a violist in solo, chamber, orchestral and non-traditional settings, having performed not only with Continuum, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia Virtuosi (as that ensemble’s principal violist), but also with the rock group The Who, jazz legend Ornette Coleman, pop vocalist Bobby McFerrin, the bluegrass band Citigrass (in which he plays fiddle) and the path-breaking Flux Quartet. Committed to teaching, Bunch gives lectures and master classes in composition, viola, chamber music, new music and improvisation to students of all ages throughout the country, and has directed the Mark Woolman Horner Music Education Fund Juilliard Residency Program and taught at Juilliard School Pre-College and Mark O’Connor Strings Conference in San Diego. In 2014 Kenji Bunch was appointed Artistic Director of Portland, Oregon-based new music group FearNoMusic.
About the Grant Park Music Festival
Acclaimed by critics and beloved by audiences, the Grant Park Music Festival is the nation’s only free, summer-long outdoor classical music series of its kind. Carlos Kalmar will lead the Grant Park Orchestra and Christopher Bellwill direct the Grant Park Chorus in a season that includes a world premiere, a Midwest premiere, renowned guest artists, a composer-in-residency and collaborations with local artists and cultural organizations. Performances take place in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and are free.
The Grant Park Music Festival is proudly presented by the Grant Park Orchestral Association with key support from the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
In addition to Carlos Kalmar and Christopher Bell, the Festival is led by Grant Park Orchestral Association President and CEO Paul Winberg and Board Chair Chuck Kierscht.
The Grant Park Music Festival participates in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Night Out in the Parks series. Night Out in the Parks is an initiative featuring more than 1,000 cultural activities in Chicago Park District locations citywide, in support of the City of Chicago’s Cultural Plan.
The Grant Park Music Festival gratefully acknowledges the generous support from its 2015 sponsors: BMO Harris Bank, Season Sponsor; Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, Official Hotel; Macy’s, Official Picnic Sponsor; ComEd; Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; Walter E. Heller Foundation; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Sage Foundation; Julius N. Frankel Foundation; Smart Family Foundation and Joan and Robert Feitler; Colleen and Lloyd Fry and the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; and Marion and Chuck Kierscht. The Grant Park Music Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
Additional generous support for Festival Connect includes: Dr. Scholl Foundation; ComEd and Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation for Classical Campers; Colleen and Lloyd Fry and The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Peter and Lucy Ascoli and The Pauls Foundation for Project Inclusion; Joyce Saxon for Club 615.