SIOUX CITY | Richard Steinbach’s musical career has gone south.
The classical pianist with a passion for working with young musicians will be presenting master classes and performing concerts at universities in Latin America. The international outreach project began in June and will continue throughout 2014.
Next fall, Steinbach will release his seventh CD, featuring music from the concert tour.
“It’s using music as a connection to bridge North and South America,” he said. “That’s part of The Fusion Project."
The first leg of his journey began in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in June. From there, he went on to Bogota, Columbia.
“The Fusion Project all started with an invitation I received from the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” he said. “From there, the project just kept spiraling outward.”
In Argentina, he heard many different live performances of tango music. Consequently, he’ll be recording and performing tango pieces for The Fusion Project.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have performed in many different places throughout the world – Asia, New Zealand, Europe,” he said. “I’m always amazed at how powerful a force (music is) in bringing people together.”
At the end of the month, he leaves for Brazil, where the native language is Portuguese. The pianist speaks some Spanish, but Portuguese will be an exciting new challenge.
“One of the greatest things for me is being able to experience different cultures and different music from the places I visit,” he said. “I can bring those experiences back to my students at Briar Cliff.”
Steinbach, who is taking a sabbatical for the current academic year, has been a professor of music at Briar Cliff University since 1980.
“It’s been extremely gratifying every time I work with international students, no matter where they might be,” Steinbach said. “At the master classes, these students are so hungry to learn and exited to perform.”
Steinbach knows firsthand how a good teacher can leave a lasting impression.
“I’ve been inspired by so many different musicians,” Steinbach said. “One of the greatest influences in my music career was my professor at the University of Colorado – David Burge.”
Burge was a contemporary pianist, conductor and composer. He founded and directed the Colorado Festival of Contemporary Music, one of the leading new music festivals of the 1960s and 1970s.
“He was the mentor who really exposed me to new, experimental music,” Steinbach said. “I’ve been hooked on it ever since.”
Steinbach will be performing a series of free public concerts in South America, featuring a music style that incorporates classical, folk, pop and jazz.
Throughout his travels, he will be researching the latest music being written in Argentina, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica and Uruguay, as well as inspiring the next generation of musical performers.
“The focus will be on working with students and sharing this new music with them, getting them excited about what’s being written right now in their own time,” he said. “Young musicians are the future of music.”