An Arts Bring Change Grant from Staten Island Arts, with public funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, has enabled Port Richmond High School Orchestra and Band students to explore the subject of microtonality with the American Festival of Microtonal Music (AFMM) under the direction of Johnny Reinhard, Director of the American Festival of Microtonal Music and Dr. Dan Auerbach, Assistant Professor of Music at the College of Staten Island/CUNY and a long-time member of AFMM. Understanding microtonality enables these Port Richmond student musicians to play more in tune. Dr. Auerbach commented, “I wanted to enable these students, with whom I have a long-standing relationship, to learn how to improve their playing by introducing them to a specialized topic—microtonality. I am just glad I can collaborate with my colleague, the director of the AFMM, to show these students a different way of thinking about improving their playing.” Dr. Auerbach has been teaching at Port Richmond since 2017, as part of a recruiting initiative at CSI. Throughout each semester, he works with the Orchestra to prepare them for their school concert.
AFMM was founded by Reinhard to showcase past and contemporary microtonal music, and to introduce microtonality to the listening public. Through his direction of the AFMM and his other individual efforts, Reinhard has almost singlehandedly revived public awareness of microtonality in the 1990s. The AFMM has become a leader in new music activity today. Most recently, Dr. Auerbach and the AFMM performed a concert at the College of Staten Island. CSI students were introduced to the concept of microtonality.
Together, Reinhard and Dr. Auerbach mentor Orchestra and Band students at Port Richmond High School. The symphonic band, under the direction of Assistant Principal Suzanne Woodman, receives coaching on the subject of pitch and intonation within the realm of microtonality, Reinhard’s main area of expertise. Joe Curran’s Orchestra students coach with Dr. Auerbach on string intonation and explore various ways to adjust pitch, utilizing microtonality as a tool to further their knowledge of basic string tuning. Improving intonation is a major goal of both Orchestra and Band students as they prepare for their end-of-the semester concert at Port Richmond High School. This project is generously funded by an Arts Bring Change Grant from Staten Island Arts, with public funding from the New York State Council on the Arts. Dr. Auerbach is excited to have received this grant to be able to work with these dedicated students during the spring semester.
Dr. Auerbach has recorded numerous CDs under the Pitch Label with AFMM, including Classic, Chamber, Ideas, and Early. In addition, he has upcoming performances at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall with AFMM member, pianist Joshua Pierce. The Auerbach-Pierce Duo has recently released an album (The Devil’s Trill) for MSR Classics. Reinhard has performed as a soloist throughout Europe and the United States, Japan, Canada, and Russia. He has played with such international virtuosi as kavalist Theodossii Spassov (Bulgaria), Thereminist Lydia Kavina (Russia), oboist Bram Kreeftmeijer (the Netherlands), and the FLUX Quartet (USA).
Dr. Auerbach further notes: “The subject of tuning and intonation is a necessary component of classical music performance for any instrument. I am looking forward to hearing the Port Richmond Orchestra and Band students perform at their school concert, hoping that I have opened their eyes to this essential topic.”
For their last visit at Port Richmond, Reinhard and Dr. Auerbach gathered for a school assembly. They performed for the students and lectured on the subject of microtonality and tuning. Stay “tuned” for more AFMM projects at Port Richmond High School.