Guitar for the Blind & Visually Impaired logo
One of the programs we’re most proud of at is the course at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, currently in its fourth year.


The teacher at TSBVI, Jeremy Coleman, is a classical guitarist with master’s degrees in both Music Therapy and Music Education.  He began the program as a contractor with Austin Classical Guitar and, this summer, became a full-time employee of the school – as well as the proud father of twin girls!


We asked Mr. Coleman to tell us a little about himself, his work with visually impaired students, and his recent full-time appointment:



On July 27th I was delirious, lying on the hospital couch, looking at my phone. I remember the day vividly. My wife had just giving birth to our twins, Chloe Page and Greyson McCartney, the day before. As I lay on that couch thinking how my life had changed, I noticed an email on my phone.


The email was from the principal at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). He said that he was very impressed with my work with TSBVI guitar students the last three years, and that a full time music educator position was posted on their website.


I thought to myself: what a great time to start a new job!


It’s hard to believe that it has been three years since ACG and TSBVI began their collaborative effort.  In 2011, both parties agreed that starting a guitar ensemble would be beneficial for the students at TSBVI. At that time I was working part-time as a guitar teacher, implementing ACG’s in two schools, while working part-time as a board-certified music therapist. With my background in classical guitar and music therapy, the staff at TSBVI and ACG thought I would be a great fit to teach the class. And they were right!  It was so rewarding to provide enriching musical experiences to these wonderful students on a daily basis.


My objective was to teach TSBVI students the skills of classical guitar performance. As part of my graduate work at UT Austin, I decided to examine whether could be used effectively with students with visual impairments. My plan was to follow the curriculum course outline with no modifications. If students needed additional assistance, like Braille music notation or assistive technology, I would provide theses accommodations on an individual basis.


Within the first year of instruction, five high school students with no prior guitar experience achieved the knowledge and skills of levels 1-3 of the curriculum. These students performed numerous times for peers, parents, and school administrators, both on and off-campus. Over the following two years students achieved similar results.


Now that I am working full time at TSBVI, I am able to implement the principles of the with multiple classes – and to reach that many more students. In addition to the junior high and high school guitar class, I am implementing the Elementary Primer with a group of younger students with visual impairments. I am also continuing to transcribe some of the repertoire pieces from the music library into Braille music notation, which is quite an extensive task!


It is my hope that all students, both sighted and visually impaired, will have access to the things they need to become life-long learners and lovers of the classical guitar.


Jeremy Coleman

Together we can change…

Austin Classical Guitar Logo
I received an email early this morning from one of our graduates who is now in college. She has big dreams of owning her own studio and writing, arranging and producing commercial music, and today she asked me for advice on what courses to take and what professional experiences to pursue.

She graduated from a Title I school with an 87% low-income student population. She was an Austin Classical Guitar scholarship student, she distinguished herself as a member of our youth orchestra, and she volunteered for ACG events. She graduated and earned significant college scholarships, and she’s pursuing her dreams.

Together we can change lives.

Last Thursday, a graduate student from Yale University called and asked me many questions about Austin Classical Guitar. He’s involved in a New Haven outreach program where he teaches our curriculum – he says the materials “saved him” in the classroom.

He’s been watching ACG from afar for years, considers us to be the greatest classical guitar organization ever, and hopes one day to create something similar in another community. Friday he asked if he could intern with us this summer, and I look forward to his arrival.

Together we can change the future.

On Friday I got a call from a young man in Dallas who was recently appointed to a university faculty position. He had attended our national teacher training this summer, and one of his first orders of business in his new role is to work together with our education team to establish rigorous school programs in his area like he has seen here.

Together we can change communities.

I’ve never been so excited about our service as I am right now. I spoke with an excited educator in Houston last week who has launched a teacher support model we helped design, and it’s working wonders. I spoke with a community organizer in New York City asking if we would establish programs there next year, a trainee from Killeen asked if he could bring his kids to our Austin adjudicated contest in hopes that he can develop one in his own district soon.

Each fall during our Changing Lives Fall Fund Drive we ask for your support. We are able to serve thanks to your trust in us and your belief in the power of great music to change people’s lives. With your help, I am proud to say that we are actually changing the world. And we could not do it without you.

You can donate online here, or call us any time at 512-300-2247.
Changing Lives Storyboard

Changing Lives 2014



Our Changing Lives Fall Fund Drive has begun. If you have thought about supporting Austin Classical Guitar but have been waiting for the right time, we hope you’ll consider making a gift today to keep our organization strong.

You can give online today, or call us anytime at 512-300-2247.



Our Changing Lives Storyboard is online now through December 31st. Respond to this email with your story of music, guitar, or of how ACG has changed your life, and we’ll share it with our community.

Austin Classical Guitar is a reflection of all of our values. We are here because of you, and we are here to serve our diverse community. Our Changing Lives Storyboard is our chance each year to share your stories, the stories of students, parents, teachers, artists, and audience members.



More than half of our budget is dedicated to education. What started in 2001 as a small program in one school, built with passion, elbow grease, and belief that great music has the power to positively change kids’ lives, has grown – thanks to you – to serve thousands of kids in fifty Austin schools in rigorous, enriching, for-credit courses at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

The curriculum and training methods we developed along the way are now used internationally, our team is increasingly called upon to help build similar programs all over the country, and Texas Education Association has just adopted classical guitar as a statewide TEKS-supported course.

The majority of gifts to ACG go to support this, our most vital and rapidly-growing, program. For more information about this program, visit any of these pages on our website: How to Give, Education Overview, 2013-14 Education Progress Report, ACG Curriculum, ACG Online Student Magazine, Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra.



ACG maintains seven performance series: International, Summer Chamber, Classical Cactus, Austin Guitar Salon, Play!, Community Concerts, and FlamencoAustin. We are often responsible for bringing artists to the US for the very first time, including past ACG artists Niño de Pura, Yamandú Costa, the Bandini-Chiacchiaretta Duo(who played for us a third time two nights ago, and were amazing!), and many more.

Our free Community Concerts have been performed for more than 40,000 diverse audience members, and we’ve brought artists from all over the globe, including all of the world’s most famous active classical guitar recording and performing artists, and many rising stars.

Is there a particularly memorable concert for you? Respond to this email with your story for our storyboard. We’d love to share it.

Gifts can be made to help ACG with our general operating expenses, but you can also make gifts to support specific concerts or programs. Sponsorship opportunities are online here, and April Long welcomes your call at 512-300-2247 to discuss what might work best for you or your business.


Giving to Austin Classical Guitar

All gifts to ACG are tax-deductible. ACG can accept gifts of stock and other properties as well, just give us a call at 512-300-2247. A growing number of our friends are joining our Legacy Circle, naming ACG in their estate plans.

As a locally-based non-profit organization, nearly all gifts donated to ACG stay right here in our community paid to artists, local vendors, and the people who make ACG happen day to day. Resources that don’t stay in Austin are given to the amazing artists we bring to Austin from around the globe, artists who enrich our lives in indescribable, unforgettable ways.

Gifts can be made one time or as recurring pledges. Gifts may be made in honor of someone or something. Gifts can be made to sponsor certain programs or events.

Even if now if not the right time to give, we hope you’ll consider participating in our Storyboard in the next few months either as a contributor or a reader.

Thank you for making Austin Classical Guitar possible, and we look forward to sharing music with you again very soon.

Möller and Fraticelli Program

We have an incredible Classical Cactus this Thursday!  The Thursday, October 9th performance will feature Johannes Möller, who won the 2010 Guitar Foundation of America Concert Artist Competition hosted in Austin, and his duo partner Laura Fraticelli. The two are unbelievably talented, and we are so excited to be hosting them. Johannes and Laura take the stage at 9pm, preceded by the UT Guitar Quartet at 8pm.

Here’s a sneak peak of what we’ll hear from Johannes and Laura at the Cactus!

Duo Möller-Fraticelli

Milonga Justo
T. Morales (1877-1953)

A ti solita!…
Federico Spreafico (1871-1958)

Ich Denke Dein
Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856)

Prelude No. 7 in A-major – Allegretto*
Prelude No. 8 in F-sharp minor – Andante Moderato
Prelude No. 9 in E major – Larghetto
Prelude No. 10 in C-sharp minor
Johannes Möller (b.1981)

The Night Flame
Johannes Möller

Johannes Möller

Johannes Möller & Laura Fraticelli (b.1977)

*Dedicated to Austin Classical Guitar

Eight Seasons Program

Our first concert on the 2014-15 season is fast approaching on Saturday, October 11th. We are thrilled to be hosting the incredible Bandini and Chiachiaretta tango duo performing alongside the Cerrato brothers (cello and violin) from Italy.

The concert begins at 8pm and we’ve got delicious handmade, seasonal treats for concessions! Tickets are still available here.

We’re also thrilled to give you an early peek at their absolutely incredible program for the evening! Also, take a moment to listen to this beautiful performance of the tango duo. It promises to be an amazing evening this Saturday and we hope to see you all there.

Austin Classical Guitar
Bandini-Chiacchiaretta Duo & the Cerrato Brothers
Giampaolo Bandini, guitar
Cesare Chiacchiaretta, accordion & bandoneón
Francesco Cerrato, violin
Stefano Cerrato, cello
The Eight Seasons
Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 8 pm

Concerto No. 3 in F major “Autumn” Antonio Vivaldi(1678 – 1741)
Adagio molto

Otoño porteño Ástor Piazzolla (1921 – 1992)

Concerto No. 4 in F minor “Fall” Antonio Vivaldi
Allegro non molto

Invierno porteño Ástor Piazzolla


Concerto No. 1 in E major “Spring” Antonio Vivaldi

Primavera porteña Ástor Piazzolla

Concerto No. 2 in G minor “Summer” Antonio Vivaldi
Allegro non molto

Verano porteño Ástor Piazzolla

Eight Seasons Dinner Menu

In honor of our Italian artists, Chez Zee is cooking up a menu inspired by the tastes of Italy for our Eight Seasons Pre-Concert Dinner! The dinner begins at 5:45pm in the Chez Zee Gallery and precedes our 8pm Eight Seasons concert. Matt Hinsley and ACG’s Composer in Residence Joseph V. Williams II will speak about the music and artistry we’ll hear when the Bandini-Chiacchiaretta Duo and Cerrato Brothers take the stage to perform Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Piazzola’s tango-inspired Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

Make dinner reservations online here. You can also purchase concert tickets online.

Here’s the scrumptious menu!

Spinach Salad served with Warm Bacon Dressing
Sourdough bread & Smokey Olive Oil (V)

Baked Chicken Breasts with Marsala Sauce
Baked Polenta rounds Topped with Portobello Mushrooms and Garlic Thyme Sauce (GF, V)

Sautéed Butter Carrots (GF, V)
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes (GF, V)

Butterscotch Pudding with Chocolate Ganache and Sea Salt
Devils Chocolate Food Cake

Chez Zee Logo

Sweet Seasons!

Our 2014-2015 International Series opens with Antonio Vivaldi’s iconic Four Seasons alongside Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires on Saturday, October 11th at 8PM at GT Austin (2700 Northland Drive, 78756).

Tickets are here – or call 512-300-2247.

Performing that evening will be the Italian quartet of Cesare Chiachiarretta (bandoneón), Giampaolo Bandini (guitar), Francesco Cerrato (violin) and Stefano Cerrato (cello). Chiachiarretta and Bandini have appeared twice before for us as a duo, first on our 2009 summer series “Pasión” and again for Guitars Under the Stars in 2013 – both times the crowds went wild!

In honor of the Italian and Argentine music and musicians on the program – and in honor of the four seasons – ACG has asked chef Fer Candil to create a special selection of desserts for the evening.

The desserts will be: Strawberry Tiramisu (Spring), Whipped Flan with Dulce De Leche Sauce (Summer), Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing (Fall), and Chocolate Mousse with Orange (Winter). Yum!

Here are a few photos of Fer’s delectable desserts to whet your appetite.

receta-de-tiramisu-de-fresas-1            IMG_6208



2013-14 Education Progress Report

It has been a watershed year in Austin Classical Guitar Education locally, nationally, and internationally. Many things are happening – some faster than we can keep up with! – but there are several things we now know without a doubt:

1) School-based classical guitar programs are developing faster than ever before.
2) Classical guitar in school has a unique and powerful ability to attract large numbers of new and diverse students to the benefits of fine arts engagement.
3) We at ACG have the ability to effectively build and assess rigorous education programs with high teaching standards and consistent results.

I hope you enjoy this summary report of our past-year activities. We would not be here today without the generous support of our patrons, sponsors, and institutional supporters. I hope what you find in this report will make you proud. On behalf of our education team, our board and staff, our hundreds of teachers and thousands of students, thank you so very much.

2013-14 Education Progress Report

Our key objective areas this past year were to Serve, Support and Develop. We wished to increase and enhance our Service in our local school programs, Support teachers locally and abroad with our online student and teacher resources, and Develop our curriculum including elementary units, Braille adaptation, and teacher training.

Serve: Two years ago we provided service in 30 area schools. Last year (2013-14), our service increased to 42 schools, including 9 elementary programs. This year, we began the school year in late August in 50 schools. To meet the growing demand, we added a part-time elementary expert last year, Toby Rodriguez, who is now on our full-time education staff.

Our primary aim is quality education as measured by student performance outcomes. In addition to more than 140 hours per week of onsite support, expanded and enhanced teacher training, free weekly lessons for new teachers, frequent student performance opportunities, and dozens of guest artist performances in schools, our biggest strides toward addressing this concern were in the area of student-teacher assessment. For the past three years, we have run a mock-UIL (University Interscholastic League) large-ensemble performance and sight-reading assessment event. This is the same kind of event that exists for choir, orchestra, and band, wherein programs perform and sight-read in controlled environments for six external judges and then receive scoring and feedback. We have called it “mock-UIL” because UIL has not created, and did not administer, this assessment. Instead, it was created by our staff and administered in collaboration with Austin Independent School District.

We provide extensive support for teachers in the form of training, consultation and teacher resources, and we felt that clear, official assessment was the most important element we could add to promote quality in education across our rapidly growing program.

Austin Independent School District (AISD) was an enthusiastic partner in this development, and we are thrilled to report that, after three years, our petition for this assessment to become an official UIL pilot has been accepted. This enormous development, unprecedented in the state of Texas, paves the way for increased rigor in classical guitar education in Austin and across the state. As classical guitar programs develop faster and faster across the state, we feel an urgent need to promote such rigor in instruction and performance outcomes. 2015 is also the first year that Texas Education Association (TEA) will include guitar as a Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)-supported course statewide. This adoption was made in part thanks to advocacy from Austin principals, who have seen our program successfully engage thousands of diverse students in the performing arts.


- Select students from various ACG programs perform under the direction of ACg Assistant Director of Education Jeremy Osborne at the Guitars Under the Stars Gala, February 2014

Current thriving programs include a new program at KIPP Austin (a charter school), the Travis County Juvenile Justice System, the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and our new Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra.

ACGYO Group Pic

- Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra, with directors and parents, following their final spring recital, May 2014.


Support: In the past year, our main resource developments have been the addition of an Elementary Curriculum Unit that was successfully used to teach more than 600 Austin 4th and 5th graders in 2013-14, the creation of new and extensive sight-reading materials for our upper curriculum levels, revision of our lower curriculum levels, and addition of over 20 new works and audio recordings to our music library.

We are still in the process of re-launching our website on an updated platform which will allow for better administration of the site, contact with users, user feedback and resource contribution, an internal teacher forum, and more.

Travis copy

- ACG Director of Education, Travis Marcum, working with a trainee in our St. Louis Teacher Training session, July 2014

Following the success of our Austin Teacher Training in August 2013, we decided to carry out similar training sessions in three other cities (St. Louis, Atlanta and Houston) in addition to Austin. The results have been remarkable. Below we are including a selection of comments to give a sense of these trainings’ impact. One particularly interesting development was a request from a 2013 Nicaraguan trainee to use our materials and methods to create a national teacher training, Congreso de Guitarra, in Managua. The July 2014 Congreso involved the translation of our Level 1 training materials into Spanish, and reports from the event have been wonderfully positive.


- Edward Grigassy conducts student ensemble in the first Congreso de Guitarra in Managua, Nicaragua, July 2014 continues to be a unique showcase for young classical guitar players and writers. We hold regular writing and performance contests, highlight contest winners and outstanding programs, and will continue to integrate this outlet into our service as a way to encourage high quality discourse among young students of guitar.

Develop: Our primary new developments were the creation and revision of our Elementary Curriculum Unit, the creation and acceptance (at the district and state level) of the guidelines and practices for our district assessment events, and the development our Phase 2 training to accommodate returning trainees for our summer 2014 teacher training session.

Student conductor 2

- A student conductor teaching other trainees at the Austin Teacher Training 2014

More and more university programs are using our resources to teach beginning guitar class and (more importantly) to teach guitar pedagogy courses. An area we still need to adequately address is the creation of recommended syllabi for college-level guitar pedagogy courses.

Our Braille adaptation was put on hold in 2013-14 because our key creative individual, Jeremy Coleman, took a music therapy position and became unavailable to continue work with us at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. We continued to support the education program there but were unable to continue the core resource development without him (and we turned our resources toward elementary development instead). We are pleased to report, however, that in August 2014, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired hired Mr. Coleman full time as a music instructor, and we have already begun talks to restart our Braille adaption project.

2013-14 saw our first collaboration with Carnegie Hall Outreach in the form of the Lullaby Project, in partnership locally with Any Baby Can.  Carnegie Hall developed this program two years ago and, after monitoring our work in juvenile justice, asked if we would be one of two organizations in the US to expand the program outside of New York.  In the Lullaby Project, our teaching artists were paired with at-risk mothers (clients of Any Baby Can), and in this collaborative partnership, each mother wrote a lullaby for her baby.  The lullabies were then professionally recorded, and each mother then shared her song with family and friends at a final sharing session.  The effects of this program have been studied extensively by Wolf-Brown and Carnegie Hall, and more can be found on the Carnegie Hall website.  A recording of our first lullabies is available upon request.

Album Cover

Assessment: Our primary goal is to provide quality music instruction as evidenced by consistently high-level student performance outcomes.

Our evaluation focus this year has been to create, in collaboration with AISD, the same evaluation procedures and measures that exist for choir, orchestra, and band. In 2013-14, we generated all process documents for concert and sight-reading assessment events and carried out those events in Austin, with 22 classical guitar programs participating. This evaluation process was then approved by University Interscholastic League (which oversees all Texas interscholastic contest) to be an official UIL pilot event in 2015. Classical guitar concert and sight-reading assessments require six external adjudicators, district-wide participation, video-taped performances, and extensive written and recorded feedback from judges. This information is extremely valuable for program assessment. Judges’ comments from this year’s assessment event are available upon request.

Additional evaluation measures include daily teacher consultations, training participant evaluations, conference participation and scholarly article generation, curriculum subscription trends, student enrollment trends, number of teachers and schools served, and social impact data (letters and testimonials) provided by students.

Conclusion: Our greatest contribution in education is the engagement of thousands of diverse kids, many of whom would not otherwise be involved, in high-quality performing arts study. There is a large and growing body of research, including Austin’s own recent mindPOP study, showing that arts-engaged kids do better scholastically and socially than students not involved in the arts. That we have built a rigorous new for-credit course subject that engages a previously underserved segment of our student population is, we believe, of great significance.

The following November 2013 letter from AISD Fine Arts Director Greg Goodman is a confirmation of the impact and significance of our work in Austin schools:

The number one benefit of the classical guitar education program has been the opportunity to address cultural diversity through a rigorous art form. We have seen increased student, family and community engagement with the particular program. Austin Classical Guitar has done an incredible job of increasing quality and access to a new art form that has allowed a diverse option for our students.

The Austin Classical Guitar program is a strong, innovative, and collaborative partnership between our schools and the staff of Matt Hinsley. We are immensely grateful for the support we have already received in the area of curriculum and teaching strategies. We have seen positive changes in students who have embraced guitar as their means of expression. The partnership has grown dramatically over the past 5 years and has enabled AISD Fine Arts to increase family and community engagement.

Some of the challenges around implementing a classical guitar program have centered on creating a rigorous curriculum and establishing high expectations for teachers and staff. With the assistance of Austin Classical Guitar we have established high expectations for our schools following the framework established by UIL in bands, orchestra, and choir. The staff at Austin Classical guitar has created an incredible curriculum guide and standards for our teachers to follow.

I would encourage fine arts administrators and teachers to embrace this genre and to celebrate this opportunity to meet the needs of students that we typically have overlooked. There is no reason to fear this program but instead an opportunity to help guide and build the expectations of a rich art form that celebrates music in a platform rooted in history.

In addition, the Austin Classical Guitar program supports the two arts-focused initiatives currently happening in AISD: The Kennedy Center Any Given Child partnership and our arts integration Creative Classroom partnership with the MindPOP collaborative. The arts are incredibly important to our district, and we welcome the Austin Classical Guitar program in our schools.

We really believe this program helps to impact student learning in Austin Independent School District by offering opportunities for students of all cultures.

From a programming standpoint we believe our single effort with the greatest impact has been our teacher training sessions, which this year expanded to several cities in the US. Following each training, we asked participants to fill out evaluation forms. One hundred percent of our trainees gave the experience a rating of “excellent”, and here are a few of their comments:

“This seminar has been an absolute revelation for me, and will profoundly change the way I teach, and will be a great benefit for me and my students.”

“Organized, passionate, thoughtful, great communicators. I feel much better about starting my teaching career. This is just what I needed. Loved the emphasis on quality music – great materials, carefully planned, effective curriculum.”

“Every guitar teacher should experience this.”

“One of the best examples of good teaching that I have ever experienced….”

“I have grown so much as a guitarist in the past three days. The patience and expertise of the workshop teachers is so inspiring, and the speakers reaffirm my feeling that I can do this.”

“This is exactly what I needed!”

We are particularly proud this year of our Austin program at Travis High School, under the direction of Susan Rozanc. Travis High is a Title I School, with 87% low-income students and 96% minority enrollment. Travis High was the only school to receive the highest rating possible at our 2013-14 district concert and sight-reading assessment event. Six 2014 graduating seniors earned scholarships to study music in college, and one of these students is the first person in her family to attend college. All six students were received of free individual lessons through Austin Classical Guitar. In a letter we received on November 26th, 2013, Ms. Rozanc wrote:

Austin Classical Guitar and classical guitar education programming has affected me and my students in a profound ways. We have been using for just over two years at my school. In that time I have seen this curriculum not only serve as a very solid foundation for musicianship but it had ignited a real love for the instrument and a desire to achieve an extremely high level of musical artistry. I have been a classroom music educator for nineteen years. In that time, I have taught orchestra, choir, band, music theory, and musical theatre. Never in my career have I seen students so on fire for music as I have seen with my students studying classical guitar.

The effect this has had on my students is nothing short of amazing. Students in the program show improved time management skills, increased self-esteem, improved problem solving skills, improved self-discipline, improved classroom discipline, and an overall improvement in all of their academic subjects in order to be eligible to perform with the guitar ensemble. Guitar students tell me that learning classical guitar inspires them to listen to new and different music and it can be a huge help in distracting them from some of the negatives in life. A freshman student, “Josh” has been undergoing chemo-therapy and he states, “Practicing guitar takes my mind off my illness and the discomfort and pain of my chemo.” “Destiny” said, “it actually makes me want to listen and learn in both guitar class and all of my other classes.” Students who would never even considered going to college before are now planning on pursuing a music degree with classical guitar as their primary instrument. During the course of the last two years, I have seen students suffering from depression, bullying, and peer pressure do a 180 degree turn around and become happy, productive students with goals and plans for the future. Students who have difficulty achieving in other subjects often change their whole way of thinking about school while members of the guitar ensemble. It has become ‘cool’ to play classical guitar and I now have a waiting list to enroll in guitar class.

Austin Classical Guitar has been instrumental in assisting me implement the curriculum. I am a wind player by trade, so it has been extremely helpful to have someone who is a guitarist assisting me with learning guitar specific terminology and performances practices. ACG has provided free tickets for my students to attend world-class classical guitar performances and even a few opportunities for students to meet and interview the performers. This in particular has been highly motivating. When students become aware of the sound they are trying to produce it motivates them to practice and to keep that practice consistent. The ACG Youth Orchestra gives my students yet another goal and another way to achieve.

As an educator, I appreciate the feedback I get from ACG instructors. It helps me to be the best educator I can be and to set a positive tone for my classes. This year, for the very first time I can say the I GET to go to work every day. I never HAVE to go to work. Teaching my guitar classes is a privilege and a joy.

Our goals for this coming year include further development of our approach to training (including a path to certification and a teacher trainer program), significant enhancements of, and, of course, as much on-the-ground service as we can provide—locally and beyond.

Thank you again for making it all possible. We look forward to sharing our continued progress with our dedicated guitar community.

Flamenco Sephardit

I met Maestro Jeffrey Eckstein last December when he was in Austin conducting Ballet Austin’s Nutcracker performances at the Long Center. Maestro Eckstein instantly impressed me as not only a tremendous musician and conductor, but also a cultural and artistic visionary.

Plus, we discovered we have a common interest: Flamenco!

On Sunday, September 21st at 7PM Maestro Eckstein will present an exciting new show called Flamenco Sephardit at the Paramount Theater. He produced the show once before in Florida, and now brings it to Texas with shows in Austin and San Antonio this month.

Tickets and information are online here.

And here’s a preview of what you can expect to see and hear!

I asked Jeffrey to tell me a little more about this exciting project.


Matt Hinsley: You are known in Austin as a conductor primarily, doing big things like The Nutcracker and otherprojects with Austin Symphony and Ballet Austin, what got you into flamenco?

Jeffrey Eckstein: A few years ago, I went to Barcelona for a friends wedding, and they took me to see one of the greatest flamenco guitarists ever, Vicente Amigo, performing at the Palau de la Musica. I was instantly mesmerized by his entire presence and sound. The gut-wrenching passion, coming from the depths of the singers, dancers, and guitarists souls, was just unbelievable. After that, I was hooked.

MH: Tell me about this particular project?

JE: Ever since that time in Barcelona, I knew that somehow I wanted to be a part of this amazing art form. Upon spending much time in Miami last year, I got to know even more about the style, with the myriad of flamenco guitarists, singers, and dancers there. I would visit the Tablaos and other performances almost every weekend. The idea came to me to produce a flamenco show. Not only flamenco though, I wanted to combine it with my Jewish heritage and classical experience, with a message about bringing cultures together through music. I started out with the concept of a classical guitarist and flamenco guitarist playing together, bringing the experience and mastery of their styles into the mix. Then adding vocals, percussion, and dance…with amazing musicians to make this a truly spectacular event, the likes of which had never been seen before.

MH: Tell me about the relationship between Sephardic and Flamenco musical traditions?

JE: From the 8th century to the end of 15th century, there was a Moorish presence in Spain. This presence mixed up with the Jewish and Christian presence, and gave birth to an incredible creativity in the arts, in the architecture, in science, and in music. Both Sephardic and Flamenco music have Moorish roots coming from all those centuries living together. Of course, at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the Gypsies, Moors and Jews were all forced to leave Spain unless they converted to Catholicism. The Jews took with them that ancient Castillian dialect, and many Sephardic Jews today living in Amsterdam, Turkey among other places, still speak this language referred to as “Ladino”. Songs were written in Ladino, many speaking of the painful departure from Spain, among other subjects. You can hear similarities to the traditional cante flamenco (traditional flamenco song), which is believed to have evolved from the cries and sufferings of a persecuted people.

Both the Serphadic and Flamenco communities began in Spain, and today are spread throughout the world, in large part due to that time period. Many who escaped the Inquisition made it to, among other places, North America…specifically Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. They changed their last names to hide their Jewish heritage. Many “Crypto-Jews” continue to discover today that their Spanish surnames have Jewish roots, and still keep it a secret for fear of persecution.

Flamenco Sephardit is a way to reunite these cultures, and remind everyone that we all come from the same place, and therefore should always live in peace together.



Thursday & Friday at The Alamo

There’s a moment in this week’s film when Lon Chaney’s character, Alonzo, hears a bit of news he really, really doesn’t want to hear.

What follows is a remarkable uninterrupted close-up as he expresses an unbelievable range of emotion from pretend happiness, to despair, to regret, to rage and scheming. It’s the kind of thing you’ll never see in a modern film, and it’s that ability that earned him the moniker “man of a thousand faces.”

Our artists spent six months writing and rehearsing the music that tracks the action and intensity of The Unknown. Every eyebrow twitch, door slam, and knife-hitting-target is echoed in their remarkable live performance.

The Unknown Poster

The Unknown: Lon Chaney & Joan Crawford (1927)
Thursday & Friday, September 11 & 12, at 7PM
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, $20
Ample, free parking in the new Alamo garage on Treadwell
Tickets and Information

The Experience: This new Alamo has free and convenient parking. You choose your reserved theater seats online when you order. They serve from an extensive kitchen and bar menu during the feature, including a new specialty cocktail designed just for us! Following the shows Brian Satterwhite, host of KMFA’s Film Score Focus, will briefly interview the performers about the movie and their score.

The Film: One of a number of incredible Lon Chaney & Tod Browning collaborations, this film was lost for decades before being rediscovered in an archive. One confusion, the story goes, is that studios used to label discarded films “Unknown.” Since this film title is, in fact, “The Unknown” it was left untouched for many years! The film is full of many twists and turns, its bizarre to be sure. One of the common exclamations we’ve heard is: “I can’t believe this was made in the 20s!” Joan Crawford and Lon Chaney give extraordinary performances, and the incredible range in setting and feeling from circus to hospital, from love to revenge, was the perfect challenge for our musicians to develop a score to support and illustrate its many facets. The film will be projected from original 35mm reels.

The Music and Musicians: Miró Quartet violinist Will Fedkenheuer is not only a member of one of the world’s greatest string quartets, he was also the national fiddle champion of Canada! His versatility and virtuosity make him absolutely perfect for this performance – which tests both! Our composer/guitarists are Randy Avers from Norway and Benoit Albert from France. They spent months studying the film, plotting the action, and developing both new and existing music to mold perfectly to the action on the screen. They fly from Europe to Texas just for these performances.