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Ahead of the Classics

The Chamber Music Series hosted by the Denver School of the Arts Orchestra might just be the local classical music world’s best-kept secret, but not for any particularly good reason. Programmed by and featuring DSA visiting artist Erik Peterson, a Colorado Symphony violinist, and friends, the series is anything but dull: Peterson brings together extraordinary musicians in an intimate space, performing music that’s adventurous and riveting enough to keep kids from fidgeting in their seats. Tonight’s concert, the last of the season, especially showcases up-and-coming and oft-awarded composer/violist Kenji Bunch, who will offer two of his own compositions, Verso and String Circle, to be performed in addition to a rendition of Claude Bolling’s airy Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio.

Verso, Bunch explains, was written expressly for Peterson to perform at the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival in Oregon during the fest’s tenth anniversary (Peterson is the fest’s artistic director); its name comes from the Latin word that refers to turning a page, which seemed to fit the occasion. String Circle, on the other hand, is an exercise based on American vernacular music and its many different fiddle styles, from old-timey bluegrass to Texas swing. Not surprising, considering that Bunch, who attended operas with his mother from the age of three, is also a member of the urban bluegrass group Citigrass and loves improvisation as much as he does the notated page.

Composing, he says, “is like cooking: If I eat interesting ethnic food, I become curious about how it was made and want to experiment and see if I can figure our how to do it at home.” That act of incorporation is what keeps his work fresh and interesting.

See Kenji Bunch tonight at 7 p.m. at the Denver School of the Arts Concert Hall, 7111 East Montview Boulevard; for advance tickets, $10 to $12, go to the Performances tab at Bunch will also premiere his Piano Concerto with the CSO, under the direction of Jeffrey Kahane, May 20 through 22. Visit
Tue., May 17, 7 p.m., 2011


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