Play! The Artistry of Fidencio Duran

We are so excited about our new series, Play!, starting this month. This series is a whole new concept to us. The series will feature concerts that accompany fine artwork by artists around Austin in beautiful downtown locals. The series will feature signature cocktails by Dragon Spirits that are catered special to each event and are catered by Austin restaurants, Easy Tiger and Arro.

The first of this exciting new series is January 30th at the new IBC Bank Plaza on the breathtaking 13th floor with an incredible view of downtown. The event starts at 7pm and features Isaac Bustos, a regular artist on every one of our series.

Tickets are available here.

We are honored to feature Fidencio Duran’s artwork at the first installment of this new series. Duran’s artwork appears in public and private art collections throughout the United States and abroad. His famous work, The Visit, is on display at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.


We asked Duran to tell us a bit about his art:

My work transforms personal and community memories into celebrations of culture, history, and the beauty in our everyday lives. Drawing with graphite I develop the idea using linear perspective to set a location and lighting for the narratives. Layering of opaque and translucent acrylics results in vivid fluid arrangements that evoke a sense of nostalgia for the past. They espouse the value of living in close relation to the earth, the strength of family, and community.

My work became a form of cultural assertion by depicting aspects of my family’s history as tenant farmers in central Texas from the 1920’s to 1960’s. With this narrative approach I also produce public murals portraying the cultural, economic, and political history of communities, neighborhoods, regions, and sites. A recent series combines landscape, nature, and found objects as metaphors for our human need for community and shelter.

duran2                              duran3



Both evening shows of The Lodger are sold out, and tickets are going fast for our Saturday matinee at 3:45pm: get yours here! Also this week, Chilean guitarist Nicolas Emilfork performs a free concert Thursday at 5:30pm for the Blanton Museum’s Tate Latin American Exhibit: learn more.


Our new downtown series opens Friday, January 30th at 7pm on the 13th floor of the gorgeous new IBC Bank Plaza. Play! is intimate concerts, inspiring works by Austin visual artists, unique downtown locations, specialty cocktails by Dragon Spirits, and delicious bites from our restaurant sponsor Easy Tiger.

Our opening show features Isaac Bustos, one of our favorite virtuoso guitarists, with artwork by beloved Austin artist Fidencio Duran. Perhaps best known in Austin as the artist who created the mural behind the ticket counters at Austin Bergstrom International Airport, Duran’s work has been collected and exhibited by major museums throughout the US and beyond.

Tickets and more information about Play! are online here.

More on The Lodger

Tune in KUTX 98.9FM for Eklektikos with John Aielli this Thursday morning between 7am and 9am for a preview of the amazing new music Joseph Williams has composed for this project.

Read an interview with Tom Echols about Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger.

Read an interview with Joseph V. Williams II about this project.

Williams has composed an astounding 90 minutes of entirely original music just for this experience. We cannot wait to share it with you in the hands of the Texas Guitar Quartet (Isaac Bustos, Jonathan Dotson, Alejandro Montiel & Joseph Williams) with superstar cellist Bion Tsang. Tickets are online here.

The Lodger, Matinee Added!!!

With Friday sold out, and just five tickets remaining for Saturday evening, we’ve added a matinee show for The Lodger on Saturday, January 17th at 3:45pm!

Get your matinee tickets here (select Saturday in the date field).

Brian Satterwhite, host of Film Score Focus on KMFA Classical 89.5, will feature silent movie scores, including recordings from our last original film score project, The Unknown, this Friday at 9pm and Saturday at 5pm. Satterwhite will be present at The Lodger shows and will host a Q&A with the composer and performers following each performance!

Bion Tsang and the Texas Guitar Quartet will perform on KUTX 98.9FM Eklektikos with John Aielli next Thursday morning, giving us a preview of the music we’ll hear at the shows!

The beverage wizards at The Alamo Drafthouse are even making a specialty cocktail just for The Lodger. They’re calling it “The Daisy,” in honor of the movie’s heroine. The cocktail is modeled after a recipe from the period of the film.

The Lodger

…it’s cinematically brilliant, psychologically probing, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I have seen the film over a hundred times and it gets better every time.

On Friday, January 16th and Saturday January 17th at 7pm, our International Series continues with The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog by Alfred Hitchcock. Shown in 35mm at the new Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, the film will be screened with a live world premiere performance of an original, 90-minute score by Joseph V. Williams II for four guitars and cello. The performers are the Texas Guitar Quartet and superstar cellist Bion Tsang.

Tickets and information are online here. Seats are going fast!

We asked Williams, our Composer in Residence, to tell us a bit about The Lodger:

Austin Classical Guitar: What do you love about this film?

Joseph V. Williams II: The Lodger is a riot. It’s a love story and a trail of murders. It’s dark, it’s strange, it’s ridiculous, and I love it. This is Hitchcock’s first great film and bares the mark of all that is Hitchcock: it’s cinematically brilliant, psychologically probing, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I have seen the film over a hundred times and it gets better every time.

ACG: Tell us about the score you’ve composed.

JVW: The new score is a nearly a year in the making and is entirely original music. The fascinating part of creating music for this film has been the process of capturing the different characters and themes to create a sound world that allows the audience to get caught up in the story. At times the music anticipates, sometimes it foreshadows, and sometimes it works in complete contrast to what is happening visually. The music dances with the film, and the film always leads.

ACG: What should we expect in this experience?

JVW: A live musical performance shakes up the whole experience of watching a movie. Live musicians create an intimacy that shrinks the distance between the film and the audience. I couldn’t be more happy to have virtuoso cellist Bion Tsang and the Texas Guitar Quartet presenting this early Hitchcock masterpiece.

Guitar at the Blanton

We were thrilled when Blanton Museum Manager of Public Programs, Adam Bennet, reached out to us in the fall for a collaboration to give a musical introduction to the breathtaking new Judy and Charles Tate Collection of Latin American Art currently on exhibit. The very first guitarist we thought of was Chilean virtuoso Nicolas Emilfork. Currently working on his doctoral degree at the University of Texas Butler School of Music with professor Adam Holzman, Emilfork’s research focus is music in the modern era from Latin America, so it seemed like a perfect fit!


The concert is Thursday, January 15th at 5:30 PM in the upper gallery at the Blanton, and admission is free. Find more details online here.

We asked Nicolas Emilfork and Adam Bennet a few questions about the exhibit and about what we might expect from this Third Thursday experience, turns out there is more following the concert:

Austin Classical Guitar: Nicolas, what do you think of the Tate collection?

Nicolas Emilfork: I think that it’s an amazing, interesting, and crucial collection that includes works from important Latin-American artists that took avant-garde styles from Europe during the twentieth century such as Cubism, Surrealism, and others. They created their works combining these styles with their Latin-American background and culture. I think that this mix of cultures is crucial to understand and appreciate the contemporary art production that Latin-American artists produce. Also, the fact that the collection shows works from contemporary Latin-American artists of different countries brings diversity too.

This connects a lot with the focus that I have been developing in Latin-American music works in large forms where the composers employ a similar process. Finally, as a Latin-American musician, is an honor to play a concert related with this collection that reinforces the powerful role that the Blanton and the University of Texas at Austin have in the dissemination of the culture and art of our countries in the United States.

ACG: Adam, this Third Thursday is packed with fun things. What can people expect in addition to Nicolas’ concert?

Adam Bennet: It’s an exciting night! Right after Nicolas’s performance, our curator of Latin American art, Beverly Adams, will be talking in the auditorium about the Tate collection—it’s great to hear a musician’s response to art right before an art historian explains their significance. There’s also a Spanish language tour of the museum, plus a conversation about a really interesting new photograph that we acquired by Dawoud Bey, and even yoga in the galleries earlier that afternoon.

ACG: Nicolas, what will you be playing and, in a few words, why?
NE: I will play works by Carlos Guastavino (Argentina), Leo Brouwer (Cuba), and Ronaldo Miranda (Brazil). The reason is that these composers take elements from western or European styles developed during the nineteenth and twentieth century, combining them with folk or traditional elements of their own countries. So, it’s possible to see neoclassical, post-romantic, chromaticism, and other characteristics in these works.

This compositional process has similar elements compared with works created by artists present in the collection. In other words, I would like to express in music some of the ideas that the public will be able to see there.

ACG: Adam, What do you love about music at the Blanton?

AB: I love hearing creative people talk about how they find inspiration in other media. Musicians are always excited about working a different set of creative muscles when they play at the Blanton—and it’s a real treat to make these collaborations happen, whether it’s a filmmaker talking about painting, or a photographer talking about dance, or a guitarist making music about sculpture. The Blanton is a creative space and we’re thrilled to present creative artists like Nicolas in our galleries.

blanton exhibit piece

Tom Echols on Hitchcock

Better than anyone we know, Tom Echols draws together themes from art, music, literature, and film. So it is extra perfect that next Wednesday he’ll begin a two-week Insights course on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger.

Participants will get to meet composer Joseph Williams and the Texas Guitar Quartet, who will give a special preview of the new film score Williams has written!

The class meets twice—from 7 to 9pm on Wednesday, January 7th and on Tuesday, January 13th in a lovely home with wine and light refreshments.

Register for Insights online here, or call 512-300-2247.

We asked Dr. Echols some questions about Alfred Hitchcock and the role of music in film.

Dr. Thomas Echols Photo

Dr. Thomas Echols

ACG: What do you love about Hitchock?

Tom Echols: In Hitchcock, there is a synthesis of content and form: intricate plot twists and dramatic tension take place within films that, in the words of the philosopher and Hitchcock expert William Rothman, “attain a modern self-consciousness.” The films, through a variety of techniques, become a self-reflexive commentary on the nature of film itself. The influence of Hitchcock on later filmmakers is ubiquitous. In particular, the great directors of the French New Wave were strongly influenced by the “Master of Suspense.”

ACG: What’s cool about the Lodger?

TE: Hitchcock spoke of The Lodger, his third directorial effort, as the first true Hitchcock film, the one that inaugurates his authorship. There are many motifs and recurring themes common to Hitchcock’s later works that are first found in The Lodger. Plus, it’s just a really fun, gripping movie!

ACG: What is the role of music in film?

TE: The score provides ambience and helps to increase the sense of dramatic tension, foreboding, or other underlying emotions and subtext. Musical motifs can mirror visual motifs in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, drawing attention to more formal aspects of the work. Many of Hitchcock’s most famous films from the 1950s and 1960s are scored by the great film composer Bernard Herman. A film critic once said that a Hitchcock film was not a Hitchcock film without a Bernard Herman score, and, Hitchcock being a bit of an egoist, this caused the great auteur to part ways with his musical collaborator. This kind of marks the end of the greatest era of Hitchcock films, so I think it shows just how important the score can be!

ACG: What can people expect to learn in your class next week?

TE: We’re going to get familiar with The Lodger and learn about visual motifs and techniques that Hitchcock used to create dramatic tension while also creating a kind of discourse about film—what it means to watch a film, to make a film, to be an actor in a film. I think participants will be surprised by how many different elements are involved in giving this film its impact.

A New Year’s Reflection from Matt

Xuefei Yang Photo

Photo by Arlen Nydam









I’ve been reflecting lately on the power of listening.

Music is about listening, of course. But so too, I believe, is community service.

New Direction

Last week we gave performances for residents at Safe Haven, Corona House, and Next Step-homes for individuals with mental health struggles. In November we gave our first performance of many at Austin Public Library. In the coming year we’re making a significant commitment to a whole new level of performance outreach.

In each of these cases we have responded to requests, and passed the needs presented to us through our sense of our capabilities, of our strengths, and of our mission. We were there because members of our community asked us to be there. The New Year will bring new direction, and the course will be charted together with you.

New Connections

Gardner Betts has asked us to double our service beginning this coming month so that all students in this juvenile justice facility will have the opportunity to take our guitar classes. Austin ISD has asked that we begin a brand new program in January at Garza High School, which employs a “solution-focused” alternative education model that’s achieving outstanding results.

A dear friend of ACG introduced us to a maternity home for young women in challenging circumstances who are experiencing unplanned pregnancy. Young mothers live at the facility, which has an onsite UT Charter School, for up to two years after the birth of their children. Two weeks from tomorrow they will take their first music class, which we will offer as an ongoing education course combined with our collaborative Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project.

More and more I am convinced that we do our best work at ACG when we think first of who we serve, and second of how we’ll serve them. We have found that the more carefully-constructed and flexible our programming is, the more deeply we are able to make a difference.

New Commitments

We have built, and now support, fifty thriving guitar programs in Austin schools. Our education team trained teachers in Houston last August and, next week, eight new Houston elementary and middle schools will begin classical guitar programs serving hundreds of diverse kids. We have even been helping raise funds in Houston to buy the instruments for some of the more challenged schools!

We traveled to St. Louis last July and worked with over 30 teachers there. Earlier this month we spent three intensive days in Austin with a talented and dedicated young teacher who will oversee the development of new St. Louis area programs, including two in the Ferguson School District that begin next week.

It’s simple: Without you our education program would not exist. Your support at Guitars Under the Stars, throughout the year, at our concerts, and during our Changing Lives Fall Fund Drive, makes ACG Education possible. This is your program, it’s a reflection of your values, and those of us privileged enough to work directly with it each day are thankful beyond words.

New Year

Austin Classical Guitar turns 25 in the New Year. For about ten years now we’ve been the largest classical guitar nonprofit organization in the United States. Colleagues elsewhere continually ask for advice to build their own organizations and services, and we help as much as we possibly can because we believe this:

The world is a better place with art and music.

On behalf of all of us at Austin Classical Guitar, I would like to thank you for placing your faith in us. I pledge that our team and I will work as hard as we know how in the coming year to make you proud of your commitment to us, and I pledge that we will listen.

With very best wishes for a bright and musical New Year,
Matt Hinsley, Executive Director

Support ACG

Sneak Peek

We are so excited to present The Lodger on January 16th and 17th at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar! The Alfred Hitchcock film will be presented with accompaniment by the Texas Guitar Quartet and cellist, Bion Tsang. The entire live score has been written and arranged by Composer in Residence, Joseph V. Williams II.

the lodger

Tickets are available for the show here.

We are also excited to share this sneak peek preview of the film! It’s time to get excited about this awesome event!

the lodger 2

Letter from Travis Marcum

MarcumFor the past nine years, I have directed Austin Classical Guitar’s education team in building a flourishing guitar community for Austin students and teachers. What began in one school with one class of 20 students has expanded to serve 50 schools and more than 3,000 students locally.

Each day we see teachers working tirelessly, often in difficult situations, to help their students become refined, joyful musicians. We work with students who are navigating complex lives full of unique and difficult obstacles because we believe that talent and artistry are not luxuries reserved only for those with means. In the midst of individual hardships and complications, these students spend hours playing the guitar because it is meaningful to them. As one young student recently said so eloquently, “I play music because it is real and it feels human.”

Austin Classical Guitar has long been committed to bringing quality music education to students without access to the arts. As part of this commitment, we began a guitar program at Travis County’s Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center in 2011. Teaching these students over the past four years has been a great honor, and they have changed my life and inspired me in profound ways. I am thrilled to say that, because of these students’ success, the program will expand this spring with support from Austin ISD.

Not a day passes when I’m not reminded that there are still so many opportunities to bring meaningful music experiences to people from all walks of life—whether it’s teaching an ensemble of 25 enthusiastic employees at Silicon Labs on their lunch break or starting a new program at Annunciation Maternity Home for young women experiencing unplanned pregnancy. It is your support that allows us the privilege to bring these experiences to the Austin community.

I look forward to seeing you in 2015, as we continue to foster a community of creative education and inspiration.


To support ACG click here.

ACG in November

November at ACG: an extraordinary Russian guitarist on a US tour, a phenomenal Turkish talent in a gorgeous home, and our last Classical Cactus of 2014! We hope to see you soon.

Anton Baranov - International Series – Saturday, November 8th

Spectacular Russian virtuoso. Pre-show features Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra performing a scene from Joe Williams’ new score to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger (premiering January). Join Williams, Matt Hinsley and friends for dinner at Chez Zee beginning at 5:45pm. Learn more.

Celil Refik Kaya - Austin Guitar Salon – Wednesday, November 12th

ACG debut of marvelous Turkish talent who recently performed at Carnegie Hall. This concert is in the intimate Tarrytown home of premiere Austin architect Peter Pfeiffer.  Antonelli’s Cheese Shop and Twin Liquors make this evening extra tempting! Learn more.

Kaya and Emilfork - Classical Cactus – Thursday, November 13th

From Turkey and Chile respectively, these two phenomenal players will light up the Cactus stage like never before. A perfect end to our 2014 Cactus Cafe programming.  Sip, relax, enjoy! Learn more.