Otto Kuehrmann, Music

Otto Kuehrmann plays bass with the College's String Ensemble in fall 2013. Photo by Matt Carlin

Otto Kuehrmann plays bass with the College’s String Ensemble in fall 2013. Photo by Matt Carlin

Although only 20 years old and finding his way in the world as a musician, Otto Kuehrmann is embarking on a musical journey that will capture the attention of many who follow him as he composes and performs.

This Glenside resident initially chose Montgomery County Community College because it’s affordable, but he has since realized how much the school has to offer with its strong programs, supportive faculty and student clubs. In addition to participating in the Choir, Chamber Choir, String Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble, he also served as the president of the Chamber Strings Club.

The College has been a natural fit for him and it shows—Kuehrmann has made the Dean’s List every semester and graduated in May 2014 with an associate’s degree in Music. He also earned the 2014 Academic Dean’s Award prior to Commencement.

Following graduation, this ambitious musician plans to transfer to Penn State, Temple or West Chester to complete his bachelor’s degree in Music Education.

“I’d really like to teach music at a public school, particularly at the high school level, and maybe do video game composing on the side,” he says.

In April 2013, Kuehrmann arranged “An Hour of Rest – Final Fantasy XII Soundtrack Arranged for String Orchestra,” which was performed by the 8-Bit Orchestra at the University of Delaware. He then wrote, “Ode to the Ironwolves,” which was performed in April 2014 by the College’s String Orchestra Ensemble during the Spring Performing Arts Showcase and dedicated to the College’s 50th Anniversary.  The score and recording will be put into the Brendlinger Library for archiving.

Kuehrmann credits his love for video games for inspiring him to compose symphonic music. Games like “World of Warcraft” and “Final Fantasy” gave him opportunities to hear fantastic music that was influenced by the Romantic Period of Western music.

“After being introduced to Note Flight (the music notation program I use for composition) I tried to put notes together on my own to see how they sounded.  I had some minor music theory knowledge, but was more concerned with just having fun and seeing what I could do,” he explains.

Specifically, “Ode to the Ironwolves” is heavily influenced by the video gaming music of Hitoshi Sakimoto, Derek Duke, Russell Brower and C418, as well as the works of 20th century composer Alan Hovhaness. The piece is about the incarnation of and release of tension and utilizes techniques such as complex rhythmic writing and chorale style.

In addition to his classes and music composition, Kuehrmann teaches private bass lessons on Wednesdays and every once in a while gets offered a gig to play.  He also plays for the Philadelphia Sinfonia, which is an orchestra of high school and college-level players that play pro-level music.

Kuehrmann says that he has a huge amount of drive and an optimistic attitude toward his future.  “I didn’t care much about doing schoolwork [in high school], but through the teachers I’ve had, I started to learn that the reward is worth the effort, especially in writing and music.”

~ Kara Aiello ’96

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