Concert on the Lake

We are so excited to continue our popular Austin Guitar Salon series with a performance by Janet Grohovac and Chad Ibison in the gorgeous Lakeway home of Jim and Jennifer Judkins.

Jim serves on our Board of Directors as chair of our marketing committee. Supporters of many of our programs, he and Jennifer can often be found in attendance at our Austin Guitar Salon concerts, so it made plenty of sense when we began talking about holding a special event at their home in Lakeway!

Get your tickets online here or call us at 512-300-2247.

If you have not yet joined us for Austin Guitar Salon concerts, we look for special architectural treasures, and we always begin with a delicious reception of wine, cheese and charcuterie. By special request, our reception at the Judkins’ home will come from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, but Julie Stoakley, our Director of Events, has also found Artisan Bistro in Lakeway who will provide delicious deserts like the chocolate tarts and macarons you see here!

The Judkins’ home has walls of windows with a panoramic view of Lake Travis. Built in 1979, the home features xeriscaping and mature oak trees. Constructed with native white limestone, it was designed by Rice and UT architect Jack Kenneth Dempsey.


We are particularly excited to share the artistry of Chad Ibison and Janet Grohovac, two artists we work with whenever we have the opportunity. Most recently, they worked on our Lullaby Project, a program designed by Carnegie Hall to work with at-risk mothers that we carried out in Austin in collaboration with Any Baby Can. Here is a recent video of a live studio performance they gave of L’Encouragement by Fernando Sor.

Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra

What a year Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra has had!

The group of dedicated young players performed for thousands at both the Long Center and the Paramount Theatre before our FlamencoAustin productions.  They gave the world premiere of a new work by our Composer in Residence – and are gearing up for another premiere currently.  ACGYO was even the subject of a short documentary film:

Join us this Sunday, May 11th at 5PM at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church (606 W. 15th Street) for their free, final recital of the season!


On the program is Joseph Williams’ Hinsleyian Overture (commissioned by the ACG Board of Directors on the occasion of my 10th year as Executive Director), a piece by Luigi Boccherini they’ll play with 17-year-old super-talented cellist Rachel Rivero, and the world premiere of a new work by a Crockett High School guitar student Ike Katula – who has spent the semester working with Joseph Williams as part of his ACG Composer’s residency!

Support ACG Education with a tax-deductible gift today. Learn more about our work here or call us any time at 512-300-2247.

Austin Classical Guitar Youth orchestra is made possible by a generous multi-year gift from Dr. Michael Froehls.

ACGYO Director, Dr. Joseph V. Williams II

John Henry’s Sunshine

What an inspiring night!

A capacity crowd at Strange Brew was treated to a phenomenal performance by John Henry McDonald who played guitar and harmonica, sang, and told remarkable stories last night (Sunday, May 4).

It was the release party for John Henry’s first CD recording called Sunshine in My Suitcase.  An original collection of authentic, ragtime “classic blues and Americana” songs and stories by one of the most inspiring and generous men I know.

Before I describe the evening, John Henry would want me – I’m sure – to talk about why he created this CD.  John Henry spent several years writing, recording, practicing (working with Austin guitar great Matt Smith) to make a project that benefits, 100%, the work we do in education at Austin Classical Guitar and our scholarship for graduates to attend Austin Community College.

The CDs are free, John Henry asks, however, that you consider a donation to the Sunshine Project, and likes to mention that the first track on the CD is called “You Can’t get Something for Nothing!”

In my introductory remarks I said: “John Henry is a man of many passions, vision and generosity.  One of the things that sets him apart from almost everyone I know is his ability, through perseverance, tenacity and willpower to pursue his passions and make manifest his visions.  Fortunately for Austin Classical Guitar, for myself, personally, and for the thousands of kids we serve in education, our work rose to the top of his list of passions in 2006, and has stayed there ever since.”

John Henry’s songs are often funny but there is always incredible depth.  The life experience he pours into the writing, the lyrics, and performance, is undeniable.  I particularly enjoy the words which capture, in a way totally unique in my experience, a combination of life-lesson truths that are translatable – I would imagine – for most of us, with a totally personal expression of the psyche of the artist that makes you feel like you’re peering into his thought process at the moment of realization. 

Almost everyone in the room last night knows John Henry, or knows of him, as a self-made man who founded Austin Asset Management Company (now Austin Asset).  Many had not seen him perform before however, and the comments I heard were representative of, I’d say: joy, awe, and inspiration.

John Henry told, in words and in song, stories ranging from returning to the US badly wounded as a Vietnam veteran and spending time in great struggle without a home in the 1970’s, to settling down with the love of his life in Austin, Texas in the 1990’s.

If you’d like John Henry’s CD, they are available by making a contribution of any level to a program he has found worthy enough to devote years of his artistic passion. 

Donate to the Sunshine Project today.

Here’s a picture I snapped right before the show began last night!  Love that crisp new linen suit he purchased just for the show!

A Conversation with Siri Hutcheson

Music, and guitar in particular, cultivates an aesthetic sense in a young person that I believe makes for a better world.

- Siri Hutcheson

Siri Hutcheson and Camille Cook have been generous supporters of our work in both concerts and education at Austin Classical Guitar, and they give to other important causes in our community as well. 

They are sponsors of our concert featuring Xuefei Yang this Saturday, April 26th, and so I asked Siri a few questions about her relationship to music and the guitar.  She’s quite a talented musician herself!

Matthew Hinsley: Siri, you and Camille have been generous supporters of our work here at Austin Classical Guitar.  What do you like about the work we do? 

Siri Hutcheson: First, I love the house concerts. It's so wonderful to hear mini concerts and to meet other guitar enthusiasts in interesting settings. Second, the work you do with children & teens heartens me for the future of creativity. Music, and guitar in particular, cultivates an aesthetic sense in a young person that I believe makes for a better world. I like that Austin Classical Guitar reaches out to those of diverse backgrounds. Third, I think the leadership is fantastic!

MH: You are an accomplished guitarist, if I may say so.  What is it about guitar, about classical guitar, that you find gratifying?

SH: I find the expression, intellectual stimulation, self-discipline, musical accomplishment and personal growth very gratifying. What's not to love…making music with a beautiful instrument!

MH: You and Camille give to other great causes here in Austin.  Is there another cause you wish everyone knew about?

SH: Camille and I believe strongly in human rights. We give to Human Rights Campaign. GLBT individuals have been regarded as second-class citizens for too long. The pursuit of happiness is part of the American dream. We also love dogs and cats. We give to Austin Pets Alive in Austin and WAG in nearby Wimberley.

MH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

SH: I want to recommend that everyone learn to play guitar or a musical instrument of his or her choice. Put a little time in on a regular basis and as a result you will create a pastime that will serve as your friend for life.

Here is Siri (left) with Camille on horses near Aspen, Colorado.

And this great photo is just before one of our FlamencoAustin shows at the Long Center!

Thank You Matthew Williams

I wouldn't be where I am today if not for music…It's a shame that arts education is not as integral in all Americans’ upbringing as math, science, and English.  I believe that music beautifully pulls all areas of learning and thought process together in a way that nothing else can.  The benefits to brain development and the cultural learning you get from music are just a few of many benefits of being involved in music.

- Matthew Williams, Founder & Owner, Williams Wealth Strategies


Our dinner before Xuefei Yang’s concert is sponsored by Matthew Williams, owner and founder of Williams Wealth Strategies.

I first met Matt in 1996 when we were both studying music!

If you’d like to join us for our dinner and concert, information is online here or you can always call us at 512-300-2247.

Our dinner will be in the private gallery of Chez Zee, includes appetizers, wine, delicious Chez Zee entrees and signature desserts including Sharon Watkin’s “Sticky Toffee Pudding” (which she promised us at the last dinner!).

It’s been great to reconnect with Matt.  We shared many musical experiences years ago, and it’s wonderful to still be in touch years later.  I’m super grateful that he is sponsoring our dinner on the 26th, and I asked him a few questions about his path in the years since we were both in school at UT.


Matthew Hinsley: We've known each other for a long time, Matt.  We met as guitar players at UT in the 90's, I went on to become Executive Director of ACG, and you went on to found Williams Wealth Strategies - I'd love to know a bit about your path?

Matthew Williams: After music school I decided to go back to my roots playing in a band and started performing in Austin clubs with my original project Apostrophe!  It was a guitar-led instrumental group with typically guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard instrumentation with horn players at times.  It featured original "charts" that I wrote and included a lot of improvisation and soloing of the core members and often auxiliary players on horn.   We played all over Austin and were featured on KUT twice including LiveSet and Eklektikos with John Aielli.   I was doing all of the writing, hiring, firing, marketing, branding, logo and flyer design.  It was not only an artistic endeavor, but also a business, sales, and entrepreneurial one as well.

At the same time I was helping nonprofit performing arts organizations such as One World Theatre, UTPAC, Paramount and State Theatre, KMFA, and others raise money.  After being top seller and campaign manager for some of these nonprofit campaigns - helping them raise hundreds of thousands of dollars - I was recruited into the financial services industry by New York Life and shortly thereafter founded my practice.  I won several agency and industry awards including Rookie of the Year, MDRT membership, and we’ve been growing ever since!

More importantly, I got married, and I now have two beautiful children, a 5-year-old daughter Amelia and my 18-month-old son Quinn.  I’ve been so busy growing up in my industry and supporting and raising a family, I haven’t had a chance to look back!

MH: There are many worthy causes to give to in Austin, what do you like about Austin Classical Guitar?

MW: I wouldn't be where I am today if not for music.  Even though I live and work in the financial world now, it's as much an art as it is a science.  The tenacity and dedication that I learned studying music at a high level, has transferred to what I do today.   I have marketed myself in a way that (hopefully) communicates that my artistic background provides a unique prospective to my interpretation of financial products and planning strategy.  In fact, we sometimes call what we do for clients “the orchestration of their assets,” in other words, all of the pieces we put together are meant to play off one another and work in concert to compose a meaningful sum.

I think what ACG is doing is important and I think the more folks that study classical guitar, and music in general, the better.  While most won't end up as GFA winners and enjoy the fulfilling and challenging careers that few players achieve, they will all be better equipped to add value to their community in whatever capacity they find themselves in.   It's a shame that arts education is not as integral in all Americans’ upbringing as math, science, and English.  I believe that music beautifully pulls all areas of learning and thought process together in a way that nothing else can.  The benefits to brain development and the cultural learning you get from music are just a few of many benefits of being involved in music.  I needed all the help I could get!

MH: Tell me about Williams Wealth Strategies?

MW: We are a full service financial planning firm.  We offer advice to business owners, high net worth individuals, and professionals to help them meet their financial, investment, and estate planning goals.  Once we have analyzed a client’s situation and walked them through our process, we can help them implement our recommendations using a variety of financial products and strategies including but not limited to life and disability insurance, professionally managed investment advisory portfolios, as well as deferred and income annuities.  We pay close attention to the tax implications our clients have, and while coordinating with their CPA, and are able to recommend strategies and types of accounts that help minimize their income taxes as well as potential estate tax liabilities.   Regardless of the returns that might be great in some investment products, I have found that you can provide tremendous dollar value to clients by simply building more tax-efficiency into their strategy.    We also make sure that they have their legal documents in order as far as their wills, trusts, and business documents.   There are a lot of opportunities to improve contingency planning for privately held business owners, who’s net worth is often very over-concentrated in the value of their business.     With partnerships, partners’ spouses, and key employees all having a potential impact on the success or failure of a private enterprise, there is a lot of business planning that most owners just haven’t done.   Our expertise is a great match for these folks.  In an ideal situation with our ideal client, we serve a “quarterback” or “personal CFO” role helping them delegate the complexity of tasks that need to be accomplished to enhance and enact their planning goals.

Successful people didn’t get where they are by mistake, and many of them have learned the value (often the hard way) of delegating away things that do not fall within their core competency, so that they can focus on their family and the success of their company.   We have a team of credentialed financial professionals in Dallas, TX called The Nautilus Group that consists of over 30 attorneys and CPAs that help us with these complex cases.  It’s a group that is integral to my scope of service and is an offering above and beyond what I have seen that many of my colleagues have at their disposal.

MH: Are you still able to play some music?

MW: While I haven’t been playing as much guitar as I once did, in recent years I have been playing a lot of piano.  Piano was my first instrument starting around age 6 and it’s been nice to slowly learn and play some repertoire that I’m sure any piano teacher I studied with would discourage (because it’s probably too difficult for my chops)!  I have really enjoyed learning again, slowly, some Bach and Beethoven piano rep, and also improvising and playing more mainstream styles of music.

Tomatito: Electrifying music and dance



Patricia Wood Dickerson is a patron and volunteer with Austin Classical Guitar. She contributed the following account of a magical evening at the Paramount Theatre in Austin on March 5th. Click the links for photographs taken that evening by Arlen Nydam.

The grand Paramount Theatre offered delectations for all senses that night, beginning with an array of tapas presented by Chef Fer Candil of Paella, Tapas and More. The warm gold light of the hall subsided, and the stage became illumined by the Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra. Composer Joseph Williams II conducted the ensemble in an elegant, professional debut of the Hinsleyian Overture, his homage to Matt Hinsley's "powerful will and determination to create." The overture was introduced by Kendal Gladish, President of the ACG Board of Directors, which had commissioned the work.


The pulse of the theater then quickened to the flying fingers of Tomatito and to the flying feet of Paloma Fantova. Guitarists José del Tomate and El Cristi, joined by percussionist Moises Santiago, heightened the flight. Time, too, flew to the rhythms of rondeña, tango, rumba, solea, buleria and the voices of Kiki Cortiñas and Simón Román. The performance was dedicated to flamenco guitar maestro Paco de Lucίa, who had passed away just ten days before Tomatito’s appearance here. Tomatito stated that “A giant has gone…”  This electrifying night of music and dance was a tribute worthy of a giant.


Arlen Nydam’s photographs convey the quality of light and motion of a fine performance, while the sounds of strings, heels, staccato handclaps and voices echo down the colonnaded corridors of the memory.


Patricia Wood Dickerson, April 2014

Grisha and Jerome: Program


(from Matt)

I can’t tell you how excited I am about the return of these two magnificent talents to Austin.  Last time they were here, it was to open our FlamencoAustin series at the Long Center and the show was primarily Grisha playing a flamenco concert, with Jerome joining him for some extraordinary encores. 

So extraordinary, in fact, that I knew we had to get them back to Austin for a fully collaborative concert of classical and flamenco guitar!


First – the schedule:

Thursday, March 27th, 11am – we’re live on KUTX, 98.5FM.  Tune in!

Friday, March 28th, 4-7pm – masterclass in UT School of Music (MRH5.138) – free!

Saturday, March 29th:

5:30pm – dinner at Chez Zee with me and friends!

7:45pm – Akins High School pre-show at GT Austin

8pm – concert begins!

Dinner and Concert Tickets are Online Here – or call 512-300-2247.


So the natural question is… what are they going to play?  What does a classical and flamenco guitar concert look like? 

Here’s your answer (links are to videos, to give you a taste of what you’ll hear!):


La Vida Breve                                                                                         Manuel de Falla

Danza Ritual del Fuego                                                                        Manuel de Falla

(Grisha Goryachev & Jerome Mouffe, guitars)


Reverie (Nocturne)                                                                                    Giulio Regondi

Asturias (Leyenda)                                                                                    Isaac Albeniz

Castilla (Seguidillas)

(Jerome Mouffe, guitar)


Evocacion                                                                                                Isaac Albeniz

(Grisha Goryachev & Jerome Mouffe, guitars)




La Flor de la Canela                                                           Chabuca Granda/Paco de Lucia

A Pesar de Todo                                                                                    Popular/Paco de Lucia

(Grisha Goryachev & Jerome Mouffe, guitars)


Los Caireles (Zapateado)                                                                        Manolo Sanlúcar

Aires Choqueros (Fandango)                                                                      Paco de Lucía

Almoraima (Bulerías)                                                                                    Paco de Lucía

(Grisha Goryachev, guitar)


El Vito                                                                                                 Popular/Paco de Lucia

Guajiras                                                                                                             Paco de Lucia

(Grisha Goryachev & Jerome Mouffe, guitars)

Matthew Hinsley Day


Thank you.

That’s what was going through my head all day on Thursday, February 13th!  In fact, “thank you” is what has been in my head much of this season at Austin Classical Guitar.  Well, when I think about it, “thank you” has been on my mind much of the last ten years at ACG as Executive Director! 

I am overwhelmed by the kindness of my board and staff, and by the appreciation I have felt, heard and read from our supporters, teachers and students all year long.  Most of all I am grateful for the opportunities our team here at ACG has had, and still has, to make change and meaning through music in our community.

Thursday, February 13th was particularly special because Austin’s Mayor, Lee Leffingwell, read a proclamation naming the day “Matthew Hinsley Day” as part of a Distinguished Service Award from the City of Austin on my tenth anniversary as Executive Director of ACG.

My wife, Glenda, was in the City Chambers, as was our Board Chair Kendal Gladish, our Nominating Committee Chair Carl Caricari and his wife Margaret Murray Miller, our immediate past Marketing Chair Molly Browning, ACG’s Director of Development April Long, and my dear friends Mike and Linda Light.

It was particularly special for me to join Mayor Leffingwell on this occasion, because the last time we were together was June 2010 on the Long Center stage when he gave a personal welcome to a sold-out crowd there to see the LA Guitar Quartet, Pepe Romero and the Austin Symphony on Saturday night of our Guitar Foundation of America international festival week “Austin Goes Classical”.  He and I reminisced a bit about the festival before he read the proclamation.

In a wild coincidence, UT’s Cactus Cafe was also the subject of a proclamation that same evening.  As soon as I entered the chambers I saw the core cactus team of Matt, Chris and Susan.  The City was recognizing 35 years of The Cactus Cafe!  Of course, not only do we have a regular series at the Cactus Cafe – but we actually had a show scheduled for that very evening, and I was performing along with dear friend, and ACG Insights instructor, Dr. Tom Echols! 

So following the City proclamation, we went over to the University and prepared for Classical Cactus.  It was a full house and Tom and I had a fantastic time.  Here are a few wonderful photos from ACG’s marvelous photographer Arlen Nydam.


The service provided by Austin Classical Guitar is made possible by the work of so many dedicated people.  We are truly a reflection of the values of our unique and creative community.


I am so touched by this wonderful gesture of appreciation, and I gratefully accept on behalf of our board, staff, volunteers and supporters who make Austin Classical Guitar everything that it is.


A Young Person's Reflection on Performing Outreach Concerts

Thales Smith just shared with us a college scholarship essay he wrote several years ago about performing on our outreach series for high school students, when he, himself, was a high school student too!  Enjoy.

In high school, I had the opportunity to perform over twenty concerts in Austin area schools through Austin Classical Guitar (ACG).  Often, these performances were in preparation for competitions or larger performances, but I was also hired by ACG at one point to perform ten concerts in schools over a period of two weeks.  As much as I enjoy performing regular concerts, concerts in schools are even more fun.  The reason for this is that performances in schools involve more than just playing the pieces on the program.  They involve introducing the pieces, explaining what to listen for, giving some background on the composer or style of music, talking with the students after the performance, answering questions, and talking about my experiences as a musician.

I began my performances by saying hello and introducing my first piece.  The piece that I often started with was “Etude No. 1” by Giulio Regondi.  I told the students that Giulio Regondi was a child prodigy guitarist who started performing at age five.  I also explained that the title of the piece, “etude,” means “study” or “exercise” but that the piece was not so much an exercise in how to physically play the guitar as an exercise in how to play beautifully and convincingly, that is, how to “sing” with the guitar.  After playing the first piece, I usually introduced and played three or four more pieces.  The piece I often ended with was “Fuoco” by Roland Dyens.  Until this piece, all of the pieces I had played were in a classical style, and while “Fuoco” is still considered classical, it includes elements of jazz and rock and is very fast.  Every time I performed this piece for students, they became perceptibly more attentive, moving forward in their chairs and focusing their eyes on my hands.  Riotous applause followed this piece. 

After performing all of my pieces, the teacher asked the students if they had any questions for me.  This was my favorite part.  Students asked about everything from how long I’d been playing guitar, to whether or not I played a certain piece, to what kind of strings I used on my guitar and why.  The younger the students, the more interesting their questions were.  For example, I once got the question, “what is the hardest to play?”  To answer this seemingly innocuous question involves talking about the elements of musicianship from technique to memorization to musicality.  No matter how simple or seemingly pointless the question, I always tried to give the best answer I could.  The students’ curiosity and eagerness was catching, and formulating answers to their questions kept me thinking in the moment.

In doing these performances, I learned about what I enjoy doing and how this fits into society.  I enjoy explaining things, and the thing I know most about is music.  People are curious about music, and they enjoy exploring the world of sound and how that sound is made.  Regardless of whether I end up being a professional musician or go into some other profession, I know that I will thrive if curiosity and explanation are part of my job. 

At UT, the classes I take for my music degree sharpen my understanding of music while the classes I take for my Plan II degree hone my ability to think and communicate this understanding with the people I encounter.

Austin Asset: An Interview with CEO Eric Hehman

The last six years have seen tremendous growth and innovation in our services, programs and events at ACG.  There are many highlights but some might include our largest events like Austin Pictures, Austin Goes Classical, and FlamencoAustin, and the growth of our education program, and the gala that supports it: Guitars Under the Stars. 

One sponsor has been behind us for all of those initiatives, and that sponsor is Austin Asset.  Founded by John Henry McDonald, who serves as ACG’s board vice-president, Austin Asset is once again this year the presenting sponsor of our sold-out Guitars Under the Stars Gala.

I asked Austin Asset’s CEO, Eric Hehman, to tell me a little bit about the company, and their approach to philanthropy and community engagement.

Matthew Hinsley: You and Austin Asset have been major supporters of Austin Classical Guitar for a long time now and seen us through major changes and growth, what do you like about ACG?

Eric Hehman: Art is an important part of people’s lives, as it rouses the mind. Art in the form of music, entertains, enlightens and educates people in promising ways and helps people to feel and express their emotions.  Like Austin Asset, Austin Classical Guitar wants to change and improve lives and it has been very rewarding to help them do so through music education.  This has grown to be a very worthy program with scholarships and community outreach; we believe more than ever in the transformative power of Austin Classical Guitar’s programs and are proud to be a sponsor.

MH: Austin Asset is very involved in philanthropy, what are some of the other causes you support?

EH: Giving back is a true representation of how wealth can not only change our clients’ lives, but also impact the lives of others.

Investing in our community is a fundamental belief of Austin Asset. It’s as much in our DNA as is investing for our clients. Our team members serve on multiple boards such as Any Baby Can, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children by strengthening them and their families through education, therapy and family support services, The First Tee of Greater Austin, which uses the game of golf to build character, teach children life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices and Make-A-Wish, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.  We also volunteer as individuals and participate as a firm multiple times a year in community projects. 

MH: Tell me about Austin Asset, what makes Austin Asset unique?

EH: Our firm was founded by John Henry McDonald on the belief that “you can’t out-give a giver”. Over the last 27 years, we have felt that if we used our talents to serve the community through pro-bono advice, volunteer service and transparent financial education, our firm would be supported as well.  The desire to look outward at how we can meet others’ needs keeps us connected to the purpose of building endearing relationships. This concept helps us take a long-term look realizing that we all have a role to play in improving not only our clients’ lives, but also those in our community.

MH: Is there anything else you'd like to mention? 

EH: We see our role of support as a way to make incremental adjustments to the course of many lives; offering the opportunities for development and enhancement.  Our society and our world is a better place for the effort.