Home #4: Marek's Arrival

Our season theme is HOME. We will dive into the natural world, culture, and human connection, and we’re inviting you to participate all along the way! Our Artist-in-Residence, Marek Pasieczny, and special guest Bion Tsang, will be having their first set of performances with us this season on December 3 and 4. We hope you’ll join us. Learn more here. We would like to thank atsec information security for their generous sponsorship of Marek’s residency and our home project. 



We are so thrilled about Marek’s arrival from Poland last week! There’s already so many exciting things happening!

During his 2022-23 residency, Marek is working with more than eighty guitarists of all ages, across Texas, to make a monumental tribute to our planet that we’ll premiere on February 18.

They had their first large rehearsal at Akins High School last week!

The ensemble was separated into five groups of differentiating ages who will be preparing a stand-alone movement of the work for the performance in the Spring. Each group will be connecting with Marek throughout his residency in preparation for the premiere of this amazing work. 

This collaboration is inspired by the natural world and our season theme, Home. Learn more about the creative process and themes here.

Marek will spend the next few weeks not only continuing this collaboration, but connecting with our community in profound ways. He has already met with some of our Community Ensembles like the ACGYO and has met with the UT guitar studio for a master class!

 We are so grateful for Marek’s presence here with us! We are looking forward to the many magical and educating moments we’ll get to share moving forward in his residency. 

Marek will be sharing the stage with internationally renowned cellist, Bion Tsang, at The Rosette on December 3rd and 4th! Join us for an evening of color and deep expression. 

Find tickets here.



 


Cypress Tree: A Reflection from Music & Healing Artist Lydia Froncek

ACG Music & Healing brings human connection, beauty, and expressivity to individuals facing isolation and challenge, through collaboration with a skilled and trained ACG Artist. These services are available to a wide variety of clients through partnerships with more than a dozen social service providers including hospitals, shelters, residential rehabilitation facilities, parental education and family health organizations, and veterans service providers. Learn more about ACG Music & Healing.

 

Cypress Tree was written in September and October 2022 by Neil with ACG Music and Healing Artist Lydia Froncek. This collaboration is in partnership with Texas Oncology. Lydia is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, also a member of Austin folk outfit Ley Line.

"The process of writing this song together was pretty natural. We listened to some of Neil's favorite songs and drew inspiration from their use of nature imagery and metaphor and the bluegrass style of music, rhythm and songwriting. The idea for the song began with the image of a cypress tree that brings him a lot of peace and clarity when he takes the time to sit and let his thoughts settle. Then the song goes on to explore a relationship with his friend. The chorus carries us to the river rushing by the cypress tree, offering a way forward even in troubled waters. The bridge is moment to ask some difficult questions about the relationship that ultimately bring us back to the hopefulness of the chorus. The song comes full circle to the cypress tree where the main character reunites with his friend, either in his thoughts or in reality, it's open to interpretation.

To write this song together we explore the deep feelings and questions that come up in a shifting relationship with a close friend that struggles with substance abuse. Neil really opened up and was willing to channel these questions and experiences into poetry, both detailed scenes for the verses and larger metaphoric ideas for the chorus. I worked on the track to give it a bluegrass quality with acoustic guitar, mandolin and bass. Then Neil had a chance to record vocals for the first time in his life! He did a great job of gaining confidence with the singing as we went and the hardest part in my opinion is listening back and choosing takes but he was very patient with himself and this process.

After he recorded I added some harmonies to help build the song towards the end. We really enjoyed writing and recording this song and I think it captures an honest moment in Neil's life that has some very universal themes." -Lydia Froncek

https://soundcloud.com/austinclassicalguitar/cypress-tree-by-neil-with-lydia?utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

 

 


HOME #3: Marek's Five Elements

Our season theme is HOME. We will dive into the natural world, culture, and human connection, and we’re inviting you to participate all along the way! Our Artist-in-Residence, Marek Pasieczny, and special guest Bion Tsang, will be having their first set of performances with us this season on December 3 and 4. We hope you'll join us. Learn more here. We would like to thank atsec information security for their generous sponsorship of Marek's residency and our home project. 

 

This season we at ACG are connecting our Artist-in-Residence, Marek, with our community on what Home means to them. Marek is working with more than eighty guitarists of all ages, across Texas, to make a monumental tribute to our planet that we’ll premiere on February 18.

As part of this collaboration, Marek has created five audio themes inspired by the ancient Japanese philosophy of godai or the “Five Elements,” that will be heard throughout our entire season. These themes will be the base of the final composition for Home this coming February.  They will also be featured in our pre-shows, videos, interviews, etc. 

Chi, meaning "Earth"

Sui, meaning "Water"

Ka, meaning "Fire"

, meaning "Wind"

Kū, meaning "Void"

 

Marek has shared these themes with the giant guitar orchestra and in response has gotten videos of their own connection with the elements and the guitar. 

Learn more about that creative process here

We’d like to invite you to participate as well! 

Do you have thoughts or reflections on Home? Might you take a picture of a beautiful place, or share a poem or reflection with us? Send them to home@austinclassicalguitar.org.


HOME #2: Godai and the Guitar

Our season theme is HOME. We will dive into the natural world, culture, and human connection, and we’re inviting you to participate all along the way! Our Artist-in-Residence, Marek Pasieczny, and special guest Bion Tsang, will be having their first set of performances with us this season on December 3 and 4. We hope you'll join us. Learn more here. We would like to thank atsec information security for their generous sponsorship of Marek's residency and our home project. 

 

This season we at ACG are connecting our Artist-in-Residence, Marek, with our community on what Home means to them. Marek is working with more than eighty guitarists of all ages, across Texas, to make a monumental tribute to our planet that we’ll premiere on February 18.

This tribute is inspired by the ancient Japanese philosophy of godai or the “Five Elements,” personal stories, and collaborative ideas between Marek and the guitar orchestra. 

Five guitar groups of differentiating ages will prepare a stand-alone movement of the work for the performance in the Spring. 

Next week is the beginning of this connection between Marek and these incredible musicians in person! They will begin exploring the philosophical and musical foundation of each of the elements of godai

To begin this collaborative process, each guitarist has chosen one or more of these elements to explore on the guitar however their intuition feels it and create a video to share this musical idea.

Here are a couple awesome sounds by one of our ACGYO members, Teddy. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1hRzyshc2Y

We’d like to invite you to participate as well! 

Do you have thoughts or reflections on Home? Might you take a picture of a beautiful place, or share a poem or reflection with us? Send them to home@austinclassicalguitar.org.

We’re so excited about this collaboration and can’t wait to share more about it! 

Read more about Home and how to connect with us here.


HOME #1: The Heart of our Season with Joe Williams

Our season theme is HOME. We will dive into the natural world, culture, and human connection, and we’re inviting you to participate all along the way! Our Artist-in-Residence, Marek Pasieczny, and special guest Bion Tsang, will be having their first set of performances with us this season on December 3 and 4. We hope you'll join us. Learn more here. We would like to thank atsec information security for their generous sponsorship of Marek's residency and our home project. 

 

 

https://youtu.be/scqfj7fXGgs

Each season we choose a theme here at Austin Classical Guitar. This year’s theme is Home.

Home can mean the space around you, family and friends, language and traditions, music, or community. Home can mean our world, the plants and animals, the forest, the sea, and the sky. 

We’ve asked each of our artists this year to build their concert programs with Home in mind. Marek, our Artist in Residence, is working with more than eighty guitarists of all ages, across Texas, to make a monumental tribute to our planet that we’ll premiere on February 18.

We’d like to invite you to participate as well! 

Do you have thoughts or reflections on Home? Might you take a picture of a beautiful place, or share a poem or reflection with us? Send them to home@austinclassicalguitar.org.

ACG Artistic Director, Joe Williams, has just recorded a message for you about Home. It is the first of a series of stories we’ll be sharing on what will be a beautiful journey.

Read another story about Home and The Rosette's newest artwork here.

 


2022-23 Javier Niño Scholarship Recipients: Aaron Degante & Juan Rodriguez

The Javier Niño Memorial Scholarship at Austin Classical Guitar exists to honor the memory of a wonderful young man who brought joy through beauty and kindness to countless people during his lifetime, and to support young classical guitarists in Austin, Texas — through scholarship lessons and other means — who show great promise and who will benefit from access to expert instruction and mentorship. For the 2022-23 school year, after reviewing applications from many talented student musicians across Austin ISD, two stood out. We are proud to award scholarships to both of these deserving young artists.

 

This week we had the opportunity to speak with Javier Niño Recipients, Aaron Degante from McCallum High School and Juan Rodriguez from Crockett High School and learn a little more about them. 

“I started my guitar journey in 6th grade at Lamar Middle School. I had never really been introduced to the instrument before that, I found it on my own. Guitar means a lot of different things to me; It’s one of my proudest skills, a stress reliever, my biggest passion, and much more. Guitar has become a big part of my life and I love it. So many opportunities have opened up to me because of the guitar. Opportunities that I never thought I’d get.

I see the Javier Niño Scholarship as an amazing opportunity to improve myself as a guitarist. I’ll be able to hone my self-taught skills with my teacher and learn new ones too! I’m still shocked about the whole thing and am excited for the new doors that come with it.

When I play guitar, I feel a sort of magical feeling. Like I can feel the music I’m playing, the emotion it’s trying to convey, like the music presence itself. Whenever I play guitar, I empty my mind. I think of nothing but reading the music. It’s really nice not thinking about what stresses me out. 

One day, I want to be chilling on a porch as an old man, and playing the guitar for my grandchildren as they watch in excitement.” - Aaron Degante

Aaron plans on attending Texas State University after his graduation and major in Physiotherapy with a minor in guitar. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYXbjLdhKDI

 

“I have been playing the guitar since 6th grade when I signed up for it as one of my electives at Bedichek Middle School and have stuck with it ever since. I really fell in love with the guitar and all its aspects. Being in guitar has introduced me to a whole community of people. I have met my best friends and people that I consider to be family because of the guitar. I am very grateful for the instrument because it has brought me close to wonderful people and experiences. 

Whenever I play the guitar, I feel at home. I feel at peace because I can just have fun and express myself freely. One of my favorite memories with the guitar was when I played a guitar and violin duet at The Rosette last semester. I felt so calm and I fell in love with the piece that we played. Everything that happened that day made me feel so appreciative because it was filled with friendship, fun, and being able to perform the hard work that I put into the music.

I have also been in the mariachi program at school for almost 5 years and fell in love with it just as much. Playing in those ensembles with other people requires communication and creates a musical connection because you need to click together to make the music click. In my case, those connections grew to become my best friends. 

I am very honored to receive the Javier Niño Scholarship because to me, it means that I am being given an opportunity to show who I am and that I have people who believe in me. 

I plan on going to college after I graduate high school. It has always been my dream to pursue something creative and artistic. I plan on studying guitar performance or music education because I love this world that I have been part of.

For me, A perfect future with the guitar would be mainly playing in a band, every weekend, for the majority of my life. I love performing and if I can spend the rest of my life having fun playing my guitar, I think that’d be a fun life.” - Juan Rodriguez

Juan plans to apply to UT Austin, UT San Antonio, and Texas state for guitar and Mariachi performance and music education. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNv9xBA7dXA

Learn more about the Javier Niño Scholarship here.

Read a beautiful reflection from Live Middle School's Guitar Director, Meredith McAlmon here.

 


Lively Middle School: A Reflection from Meredith McAlmon

We at ACG believe that music has the power to change the world. Having artists visit our local school programs is one of our favorite things to do when we have the opportunity to. Seeing a great performer can be a life-changing and inspiring experience for both young people and adults alike. Here is a beautiful reflection from Guitar Director, Meredith McAlmon, at Lively Middle School.

 

On September 22nd Joseph Palmer came to Lively Middle School and gave a presentation and performance of guitar solos ranging from beginning level to advanced. 

He talked to the students about each piece before playing it, gave them a chance to choose pieces from an extensive program, and answered questions. He played for Caitlin Landolt’s Advanced Guitar class and then for my class.

I teach a beginning guitar class made up of fifteen  6th grade boys and three 6th grade girls, and they were spellbound.

Joseph played and talked for an hour and a half, and when it was getting close to the end of class the students all insisted on getting his autograph. They had him signing programs, binders, backpacks, and even a forehead!  

They have not stopped talking about him and keep asking when he is coming back. They talk about the different pieces he played, and they all are looking forward to playing “Epiphany” – a special favorite from the selections. 

I noticed a definite increase in their focus in class after Joseph’s visit. He was so generous with his time, and even stayed to play a piece for my Advisory class  (a non-music class) that meets right after my guitar class.  

Joseph’s visit brought a lot of joy into these young people’s lives. This morning as this class was getting started, one of my students gave a poignant sigh and said “I wish Dr. Palmer was here.  It has already been so long”.  (I will say she gave me a hug after she said that.  All is not lost….)  

Again – my heartfelt thanks go out to Austin Classical guitar and Joseph Palmer for making this happen for my students. You make a difference in their lives!


HOME: A Conversation with Joanna Gutt-Lehr

Our season theme is HOME. We will dive into the natural world, culture, and human connection, and we’ll be inviting you to participate all along the way! We hope you’ll join us for the culmination of this project, when our Artist-in-Residence Marek Pasieczny’s monumental new work based on HOME will premiere on February 18. Learn more here

 

This week we had the pleasure of speaking with Joanna Gutt-Lehr,  Executive Director of Dotdotdot Connect.

Joanna introduced us to the incredible Polish poster artist, Leszek Zebrowski, whose work will be featured in fall and spring exhibits in our loft space at The Rosette! 

In Austin, Joanna has worked to expand awareness of different cultures, illuminate the connections between mathematics, art, and music, and foster deeper appreciation and understanding between artists and the community. Joanna shared,

“I was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. Our house was full of books, discussions about history, politics, and … math. My parents were WWII survivors. I think it must have been the reason for the unspoken message they conveyed that education and art is what nobody can take away from you. Despite living in Poland while the country was still behind the iron curtain, I look at my life there with nostalgia and love. I lived there during the Solidarity anticommunist rebellion and the martial law but left for the US before the collapse of communism

Austin has been my home since 1990. I have been teaching Mathematics for a good while, currently as part of the math department faculty at the Texas State University in San Marcos. 

In 2018, I spearheaded a series of annual events at Texas State University that highlights interdisciplinary connections of mathematics with other fields geared at the general public – the first event had a theme of Math and Visual Arts when we hosted a wonderful professor of Mathematics and artist from Southwestern University, Dr. Fumiko Futamura. Since then, we have played with Math & Music, Math & Politics, Math & Diseases, and most recently – Math & Ethics.” 

Outside of being an inspiring educator, Joanna is the head of an amazing organization, Dotdotdot Connect, whose mission is to provide a meeting place for diverse communities to experience art together and create opportunities for local Austin area artists to connect with artists from around the world. Joanna shared, 

“We founded Dot Dot Dot Connect in 2020. There are four of us so far: Anna Zieleniewska, Marcelina Gray, Agnieszka McDowell, and I. The idea was that there are so many connections to explore between creative fields, artists, organizations that see art as means to enrich communities – and often they are in isolation or separated because of the urge to categorize. There are many wonderful groups in ATX – why not connect? Collaboration through art between cultures – like math – is natural and the common language and passion are there. 

We have curated a mural in Austin (at The Yard), came up with the idea and co-organized a Bike Tour along murals and mosaics on the streets of Austin, co-organized a music concert in support of children affected by the war in Ukraine. We created an outdoor poster happening in Zilker park in support of the Polish women demonstrating for their rights. On October 21, we are planning the opening of a large music posters exhibit by one of the most acclaimed Polish artists of the genre, Leszek Zebrowski – the show will be on view in Ao5 Gallery in Arboretum at least through November 6. In most of these projects we collaborated with other organizations or connected international artists with Austin artists.”

This season at ACG we are so grateful to collaborate with a phenomenal Polish composer and guitarist, Marek Pasieczny, as our Artist-in-Residence which makes this connection to Polish poster art extra special. Joanna shared a little bit about why this medium is so important: 

“Poster art was part of my every day in Poland, you walked by large barrel like posts, especially in the cities, covered with huge size posters advertising theater plays, concerts, films. These were nothing like what we saw (and see) in the West. Not a drop of commercialism. They were designed by amazing artists and became their way to experiment with avant-garde ideas, forms, and approaches liberated from commercial considerations. Most of the posters were executed in a painterly fashion, with handcrafted typography and rich metaphors and symbolism. There is a term Polish School of Posters that describes this phenomenon. In the communist times, posters were an exception that mostly escaped the censorship – a conversation within the society , the type that could not be easily conducted in words. So, I loved them. I even brought a few with me when I moved to the US. Then, years later through 2019, within my work organizing the Austin Polish Film Festival, I curated annual Polish poster art exhibits. There are still fantastic poster artists in Poland – ones of a kind. It is exciting to present some of this amazing work in Austin.

I am in awe of how much ACG does for the community, the quality of people involved and their work, as well as with the caliber of musicians ACG brings to Austin. I reached out to Matt in the summer to explore possible partnerships in building connections between live music and visual art. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to Matt Hinsley and Joe Williams who are generously contributing their time and ideas to make our collaboration result in not one but two poster art installations at the Rosette! Joe suggested showing Polish film posters to celebrate the live music with silent films events and then music posters to accompany the residency and concerts by the Polish guitarist invited by the ACG, Marek Pasieczny. We are beyond excited!”

We are so excited and grateful to explore different mediums, connect deeper with our community, and expand our horizons in our 2022-23 season, Home.

Read a beautiful story about our Music & Healing program here.

Carmen by Leszek Zebrowski

Music & Healing: Not/Yet/There

ACG Music & Healing brings human connection, beauty, and expressivity to individuals facing isolation and challenge, through collaboration with a skilled and trained ACG Artist. These services are available to a wide variety of clients through partnerships with more than a dozen social service providers including hospitals, shelters, residential rehabilitation facilities, parental education and family health organizations, and veterans service providers. Learn more about ACG Music & Healing.

 

Our newest video from ACG Music & Healing is called Not/Yet/There. Each time we work with a participant, we try to work with their story, energy, and individual skills. In this case, we discovered the participant was a dancer!

The participant Sharon Marroquin wrote: "I am a firm believer in the healing power of the arts. As a dancer and dancer maker, and a twelve-year cancer survivor, I know first-hand that movement is a medium for processing, expressing, and transforming pain. I recently faced the possibility of recurrence and found myself tumbling once again into an abyss of fear and uncertainty. This experience is embodied in my collaboration with John: Not/Yet/There.

John and I created this piece over the course of four Zoom meetings, and we met for the first time on the day we shot this video. “Not” is incomplete and uncomfortable, a piece of music that is missing something you can’t quite describe. “Yet” is a presence, but it is limited, hesitant, and unsure of its own existence. “There” represents a cautious re-integration, a mix of joy with ever-present unease. As a three-part piece, Not/Yet/There expresses a deep self-awareness that I am....not yet there."

The piece begins with piano only, then it’s dance only in silence, then the two combine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4wjpktxsa8

Read another Music & Healing story here.

Learn more about our Music & Healing services here.


GRISHA: A Reflection from Hector Aguilar and Tony Mariano

This past weekend at ACG was spectacular! We had our 2022-2023 Season Opening Night with flamenco prodigy, Grisha Goryachev. The concert was absolutely stunning and exhilarating! We were swept away by Grisha’s impressive speed and beautiful musicianship. It was so wonderful to be back in the gorgeous AISD Performing Arts Center with close to 1,000 friends! 

Not only did we have a magical evening on Saturday, we had an entire week with Grisha filled with amazing moments! Not everyone knows that our guest artists also spend several days in our community teaching and visiting schools! 

“All the middle school students were amazed and came back the next day telling me they wanted to get better,” Hector Aguilar, reported about his students in the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center. “They are so excited they could jam with Grisha and perform for him. It was already a good group of young men, but after the visit they’re even more patient and attentive.”

Grisha also played for a high school unit at Gardner Betts. Hector shared:

“The high school group is two students with a third one that is not in the class but is in their unit - which is where the classes are held. Usually, the third student goes into his dorm because he does not want to be in the room with the rest of the class, but when Grisha visited he came out and sat down to join the performance and even asked questions. It was great because he doesn’t communicate much normally when I am there. The newest member of this group also had a profound experience. Prior to Grisha's visit he did not want to participate in the Hispanic Heritage Month Event we have coming up. We’d agreed that as long as he performed for Grisha's visit he would not have to participate in it. After his performance, and Grisha's beautiful playing, the student was so inspired that he now wants to perform for the Hispanic Heritage Month presentation.”

Students from Manor Middle School, with their teacher Victor Longoria, posing with Grisha after his Saturday evening performance at the AISD Performing Arts Center

Tony Mariano, ACG’s Director of Community Education, took Grisha to several high schools, and shared this reflection as well.

“There was a particular moment that happened at Bowie that I thought was worth sharing. It was a little reminder for me about why we do the things we do at ACG.

Grisha had just finished an amazing 45 minute set for the students at Bowie High School, who had crowded into the front and center section of the school's theatre to hear him play. Some students there had started playing guitar only a month or so ago. For them, this was their first ever artist they had seen up close and personal. Others in there had been playing for a long time and had been waiting with anticipation to see and meet Grisha for weeks.

After Grisha's last rasgueado and golpe, after the students quieted from their excited applause, there was time for questions. At first, there were the usual questions you'd expect: how many hours do you practice, what age did you start? But then there was a question that seemingly came out of nowhere, one that made Grisha pause. A student asked Grisha, "why do you do this?" Grisha paused and asked, "what do you mean?" The student clarified their question with "what motivates you to do this, what inspires you?"

Grisha looked right at him and told him that music is what gives him purpose. It's what gives him meaning to his life. It's what makes him feel whole. Music is what gives his deepest feelings a voice. For Grisha, music is the language that allowed him to express himself in a way that speech never could. And that expression can connect with others, and bring them closer to him. 

On our way back to the car I looked at Grisha and told him how beautiful of a moment I thought that was. And without skipping a beat he said to me,  "this is how I can help make the world a little better. This is how we all can help make this world a little better, in our own small ways." That moment was so special. When you put people like Grisha in a room with young minds, really special and beautiful things happen. Everyone looks inward to find the things that really matter to them. The things that give us purpose.”

We are so grateful for the time we’ve spent with Grisha and all the inspiring moments we’ve got to share. 

 

Read a beautiful story about our Music & Healing program here

Learn more about ACG Education services here.