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LO's Buncke returns to present hometown concerts

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Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lake Oswego native Keith Buncke will present his first hometown concerts March 13 and 15 with Portland Columbia Symphony.

At the astonishing age of 21, Lake Oswego native and Portland Youth Philharmonic alumnus Keith Buncke has cemented his place as one of this generation’s finest woodwind musicians.

Buncke plays bassoon, but he experimented with other instruments at a young age.

“I noticed that Keith from a young age had a great ear for music, so I encouraged him — made him — choose an instrument,” said his mother, Carol MacArthur, in an interview with The Review and Tidings in 2012. He started playing piano at age 6, but wasn’t enthralled. He took up the cello when he was 9, but wasn’t particularly motivated to practice that instrument either.

“Then one day I heard a recording of Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 — that’s the only one with the bassoon in it,” Buncke said in the 2012 interview. “It’s not that prominent of a bassoon part, just a baseline but I heard the bassoon being played and was intrigued by its sound.”

MacArthur looked for opportunities that would build Buncke’s musical abilities. In 2008, he won the position of principal bassoonist with Portland Columbia Symphony. Buncke spent several summers attending Boston University Tanglewood Institute and then transferred for his last two years of high school to Interlochen Academy for the Arts.

He set his sights on attending the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, which educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists. In February 2014, while still attending Curtis, he won a full-time principal position at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, beating out dozens of qualified musicians — many twice or three times his age. Then in January 2015, Buncke’s rising star rose even higher when he won the same position with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, considered one of the best symphony orchestras in the nation.

This spring Buncke returns to Oregon to guest star in his first hometown concert since his appointment, playing works by Villa Lobos and Weber on March 13 and 15 with Portland Columbia Symphony.

In this concert, conducted by recently-appointed music director Steven Byess, PCSO has assembled an enormous variety of rousing orchestral dances from around the world: ebullient Romanian and Hungarian folk dances, an atmospheric Brazilian Ciranda, a Castilian Seguidilla, an Aragonaise Jota, and an Asturian Alborada and Fandango.

The March 13 concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1838 S.W. Jefferson St., in Portland. The concert is free; parking is also free at the Southwest 18th Avenue and Clay Street entrance.

The March 15 concert will begin at 3 p.m. in the theater at Mt. Hood Community College, located at Northeast 29th Street and Kane Drive in Gresham. Parking is free near that entrance.

Admission to this concert is $35 for adults, $30 for seniors and $10 for students. Children are admitted for $5 and a family pass is available for $60. Tickets may be purchased online at www.columbiasymphony.org, or by calling the box office between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 503-234-4077 or at the door starting one hour before the performance.

The program is the same at both venues.

Contact Barb Randall at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..