New Score for Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Lodger, composed by Joe Williams

We dream of a world where music is here for everyone, connecting us, inspiring us, and bringing joy and meaning wherever it goes. We are having our Dream Big spring fund drive here at ACG and it’s because of our community and supporters that we are able to share stories like this. Click here to learn more about supporting ACG.

 

ACG’s Artistic Director and Composer in Residence, Joe Williams, collaborated with the Alamo Drafthouse in composing a new score for Alfred Hitchcock’s silent film, The Lodger. 

Joe’s compositional brilliance combined with the incredible talents of cellist Bion Tsang and the Texas Guitar Quartet brings this nostalgic horror story of Jack The Ripper to life. Learn more about Joe’s musical ideas and compositional process through this podcast, Classical Guitar Insider with Bret Williams Ep. 155


Dream Big: A Beautiful Letter to ACG from Ayame Castel

We dream of a world where music is here for everyone, connecting us, inspiring us, and bringing joy and meaning wherever it goes. We are having our Dream Big spring fund drive here at ACG and it’s because of our community and supporters that we are able to share stories like this. Click here to learn more about supporting ACG.

 

Below is a beautiful letter from graduating senior and ACG Youth Orchestra member, Ayame Castel.

In addition to being a great young guitarist, Ayame is an extraordinary competitive athlete, and she’ll be attending the highly competitive US Naval Academy this fall. We couldn’t be more excited for her, and thankful for our time together. 

 

Dear Austin Classical Guitar, 

I can’t believe that it has been five years since I first joined the ACG Youth Orchestra (ACGYO). I’m grateful to look back on the many thrilling experiences over the years that have truly changed me as a musician and as a person. I can’t thank ACG and ACGYO Director, Joe Williams, enough for the many distinct and fulfilling performances in churches, gardens, concert halls, and even movie theaters. 

I think the most incredible experience I’ve had as part of the ACGYO was when we had the privilege to tour San Francisco and play in many different venues with musicians of all ages. Not only did we share our music, we also got to explore the culture and landscape of San Francisco such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Muir Woods! Although the past two years have been a challenge, and that is an understatement for many of us, we were still able to come together and perform virtually until finally in person again. 

I wouldn’t have experienced what it’s like composing for a large guitar orchestra if it weren’t for ACG and Clarice Assad coming together and making it possible for us. I am so grateful that we were able to perform our composition with Clarice, Mosaic Variations, in person and then finish the season with performing Austin Pictures by Joe Williams in person as part of a huge guitar orchestra. 

I would 100% do it all over again for the experiences, the people, and to flex our guitar skills and music to the world. ACGYO has inspired me to take advantage of new opportunities and to connect and make experiences with many people. 

 

Thank you ACG!

Ayame Castel

 

We asked ACG Artistic Director, Joe Williams, for his thoughts after reading this wonderful letter form Ayame, and here’s what he had to say.

This letter takes me back to Ayame’s first rehearsal. She was there because her teacher, Stephen Krishnan, encouraged she try out. I am so proud of her and the journey she had with us. Ayame transformed from being unsure about the whole thing to being a rock. She became someone I always knew I could count on to lead or support – whatever the group needed. More than anything, it was fun to see her enjoy making music. 

Ayame is starting a new journey now as a young adult and as a student in the U.S. Naval Academy. I believe the music she has made with the ACGYO will serve her for years to come and I’m so grateful she shared her presence with us. – Joe Williams


Dream Big: Celebrating Music Educators, Evan Taucher

We dream of a world where music is here for everyone, connecting us, inspiring us, and bringing joy and meaning wherever it goes. We are having our Dream Big spring fund drive here at ACG and it’s because of our community and supporters that we are able to share stories like this. Click here to learn more about supporting ACG.

 

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with private instructor and guitar super star, Evan Taucher. Evan has been musically inclined his whole life. He began playing piano at the age of six, started playing the saxophone in middle school and picked up the electric guitar in his freshman year of high school.

“I would play all day, and all night if I could (and I did, much to my school grades' demise).” -Evan Taucher

Evan discovered the classical guitar at age 19 at Florida State University and decided to completely dedicate himself and his life to the instrument. This led to Evan growing a large internet following in the guitar community! Evan shared, 

“In 2011 at FSU after playing the guitar only a few months, I felt an affinity to document and share what I was learning, and this took the form of YouTube videos. I was so certain this is what I would be doing the rest of my life, that I thought it would make for an interesting thing to reflect on, and maybe inspire others.”

After studying with Bruce Holzman at FSU for five years, Evan began studying with the cuban virtuoso Rene Izquierdo, where he began having success in competitions and built his online presence. Evan continued at the University of Texas at Austin to study with Adam Holzman, during which he had the opportunity to study in Alicante, Spain for six months as part of the Master Guitar Alicante program. 

Evan has now entered the professional stage of his career as a performer and has built a studio of passionate guitarists! Evan shared,

“Almost my entire studio is private students, and the majority of them are online and tuning in from around the world. I'm lucky to teach one very special student through ACG, who is the recipient of their Javier Niño Memorial Scholarship, which provides an exceptional student with private lessons, a worthy instrument, and tons of performance and educational opportunities. I feel fortunate to teach a studio of hard working students that also are interesting and intelligent people. I learn just as much from them! What is better than playing something that sounds cool and showing your friends (and others) how to do it? Witnessing others experiencing the same joy and gratitude you feel towards music is the highest possible sensation for me.”

Evan became connected with ACG in 2020 when the non-profit, Ex-Aequo, that Evan co-founded, reached out to us to collaborate with their Changing the Canon project where they commissioned and recorded 9 new pieces by Black composers for the classical guitar. Evan shared, 

“We mostly worked with Travis Marcum during this project, and it's safe to say that we really 'clicked'. His passion and dedication to education really shines, and it's very obvious that this is a vein that runs through everyone at ACG, which is what makes it so special!”

Evan has helped the classical guitar community grow and connect with each other in numerous ways. He shared a little more about how he uses social media as a tool in this regard, 

“Social media is just an extension of the stage in terms of being audience-minded. It's a way to have a broader reach with our music, and also a place to share behind the scenes thoughts, ideas, and works in progress. This is something I've always believed in. As a performer, it's helped me see what people find to be interesting, both about the music and about the life of a musician. This helps not just with repertoire selection, but also with how you speak to the audience and the stories you tell as a performer. As a teacher it's helped immensely. Creating online mini-lessons (as well as full-fledged courses for companies like PickupMusic, JamPlay, and Truefire, and Cordoba Guitars) has helped me learn where the common points of confusion are in guitar technique. For example, when you share something and you get upwards of 100 messages asking to clarify a certain aspect of it, you quickly realize the holes in your thought process that a single student or two may not have pointed out. It's been an invaluable experience.”

We asked Evan what his favorite part of being a music educator is and he shared, 

“My students! Many of them are incredible human beings who have had successful careers in unique fields. I'm also particularly inspired by students who improve quickly. How they achieve this is never a surprise, but it's always amazing. I've witnessed students who started in their mid 50's go from playing a few easy pieces very sloppily, to playing some of the famous pieces in the guitar repertoire beautifully in less than a year. Simply because they put in honest, focused work every single day. I've seen teenage/young adult students crippled by technical problems surrender their ego, work at it and become much better players. These exceptional students inspire me and remind me to do the same!”

Evan is also planning some cool things for his students in the near future:

“Something I'm happy to be planning for my students are monthly Zoom performance classes. Since many of my students tune in from around the world, virtual is the only way to go about it. Believe it or not, this actually comes with a lot of benefits. For one, it's easier for everyone to make time and show up. Most importantly, they gain performance experience and get to know some other passionate guitarists around the world. Contrary to a traditional "guitar studio" there is less competitiveness and more support overall. The end goal is to create a community similar to what I had during my degrees in guitar studios, minus the bureaucracy and student loans. Fortunately technology is progressing to a point where we can make it just as engaging and educational. We're also planning some exciting opportunities for students around the world at my non-profit Ex-Aequo that will be announced soon!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeiAATQ9EW8

We’re so excited to hear more stories from music educators we have the pleasure of working with! 

Read another story about student leader, Besa Carney, here.


Dream Big: Justice Phillips on writing a new piece for Jorge Caballero

We dream of a world where music is here for everyone, connecting us, inspiring us, and bringing joy and meaning wherever it goes. We are having our Dream Big spring fund drive here at ACG and it’s because of our community and supporters that we are able to share stories like this. Click here to learn more about supporting ACG.

 

With our spring season wrapping up we have so many incredible things happening. Jorge Caballero will be with us May 6 and 7 at The Rosette just before our Season Finale on May 8 with Jorge and the Miro Quartet!  

Jorge’s solo shows at The Rosette are sold out, but if you’d like to tune in and watch the live-stream on Saturday, May 7 at 8pm CT, click here. In-person tickets for our Season finale on May 8 at 4:30 with Miro Quartet are still available online here

One of the many reasons Jorge’s visit with us at The Rosette is super special is because our Director of Customer Experience and Composer, Justice Phillips, connected with Jorge to compose a piece for this event! Justice shared, 

“This past winter ACG Artistic Director, Joe Williams, shared with me that he was trying to find an opportunity for me to write a piece for one of our featured artists in the spring. Then, a few weeks later he told me I’d be composing a piece for Jorge, who I secretly wished to write for because of his insane technical abilities as well as deep understanding of music!” 

Justice had full compositional freedom for this project and, in turn, created, Coming Out Party. Justice shared more about what this piece means to him, 

“It’s kind of funny to me actually. I’m a huge fan of football, and one of my favorite young players just recently had his first big game. That inspired the essence of the piece and title. The concept expanded as I moved through the compositional process and tried to capture the feeling a person has when they have their first big accomplishment in their field. I also tried to capture the feeling of a literal party as well, like a group of friends celebrating the accomplishment!”

Justice began working and connecting with Jorge for this piece in late December of 2021. Justice spoke a bit about what this experience did for him, 

“The experience of working with Jorge has helped me grow as a composer and musician! After I sent him the completed score of Coming Out Party, Jorge pointed out how the way I notated some of the rhythms could be confusing for a performer to read. With the piece having heavy emphasis on the rhythm that was extremely important. He taught me a lot about notation, and has helped me recognize that the goal of notation is to portray a composer’s musical ideas as clearly as possible.”

Justice began this composition as an improvisation. He wanted it to be fast, energetic, and rhythmic. He shared, 

“This piece is a good representation of my improvisational style, and I think that’s rad. I made sure to keep the energy high for the entire piece and create interesting and unique harmonic moments. I wouldn’t say I chose to compose it that way, rather that I improvised it that way and enjoyed how it sounded.”

Justice shared that throughout this time his favorite moment with Jorge was in a zoom meeting with him and Joe, 

“I was a bit timid initially but once I relaxed and opened up there was great communication between Jorge and I. The biggest lesson I learned from Jorge in that meeting was how to analyze a composition from the perspective of the performer, especially a new one. I am a performer as well, but with Jorge being one of the greatest guitarists in the world, the information he was sharing opened my mind to many different ways performers think about music, notation, color, dynamics, and everything in between.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4XKdihokMw&t=1s

EVENT DETAILS

We are so excited to hear the premier of Coming Out Party on May 6 and 7 at 8pm live from The Rosette. In person shows are sold out but the May 7 showing will also be livestreamed. Learn more here.

Our Season Finale with Jorge Caballero and the Miro Quartet is Sunday, May 8 at 4:30 in Bates Recital Hall. This event, and the season it celebrates, is most certainly the stuff of dreams, and we’d love to have you with us!

Our finale includes a fifty-member guitar orchestra, a ten-year reprise of Joe Williams’ magnificent work Austin Pictures, and the world premiere of a new masterpiece by ACG Artist in Residence Clarice Assad.

Our finale celebrates our community, our artistry, our return to in-person concerts, the beauty of humans working together, and a season in which we built our first-ever home at The Rosette. Find tickets here.


Season Finale with Jorge Caballero & Miro Quartet

Join us on May 8th for our Season Finale with Jorge Caballero & the Miro Quartet! This concert has it all – solos, quintets, a giant guitar orchestra, the premiere of a dazzling new work by Clarice Assad, our artist in residence this season, and the 10 year anniversary performance of one of our most ambitious projects, Austin Pictures, by Joe Williams.  Find ticket information here. This event is sponsored by atsec information security.

There is so much to celebrate in our Season Finale and we are so excited to share this special moment with you! Information on this exciting concert is online here.

Here is a sneak peek of Jorge Caballero and the Miro Quartet creating magic together, from a show we produced in the ACL Live Moody Theater in 2011 just after it opened. (Incidentally, in this video, they’re playing a piece ACG commissioned in 2009 for Caballero from Argentinian composer Jorge Morel.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmlebf0qK8Q

In our finale on May 8th, the quintet will perform the world premiere of Clarice Assad’s Mosaic Variations, written just for this occasion as the final chapter of Assad’s year-long Artist in Residence position here at ACG. This piece is based on a giant work for guitar orchestra Assad co-created with more than fifty AISD students in the fall and winter. Here is a short video about the composition process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVLznW1h4LI

On top of all this magnificence we will also be able to experience the 10-year anniversary performance of Austin Pictures, a work written for ACG by our very own Artistic Director, Joe Williams in 2011. We’re assembling a huge guitar orchestra, including a bunch of players from the original performance! For an Austin Pictures, deep dive, here is our watch party of Austin Pictures where Joe, Jorge, the Miro Quartet’s Daniel Ching, and Matt Hinsley share memories and insights about that wild project. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1ZAxGurNbs


Jorge Caballero: Live Streamed from The Rosette

Join us on May 7th at 8pm CT for Jorge Caballero live-streamed from The Rosette (the in-person shows are now sold-out)! We cannot wait to be hypnotized and charmed by his incredible mastery of the guitar. Find ticket information here

We are thrilled to present Peruvian guitar virtuoso Jorge Caballero live at The Rosette. Information on his streaming concert online here.  

Jorge is a dear friend of ACG who has collaborated with us on some of our most ambitious projects over the years. We are so grateful to be able to connect with him again in our new home! Here is a peek at Jorge’s mastery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znpmTvI60Cw


Live from The Rosette: Yamandu Costa

Join us on April 8th and 9th for Yamandu Costa with special guest Richard Scofano live at The Rosette! This duo will amaze us with passion, soul, and stunning virtuosity. The Saturday 8pm showtime will also be live-streamed! Find ticket information hereThis event is sponsored by Patrick Keel, Mediator-Arbitrator.

 

We are thrilled to present Yamandu Costa with Richard Scofano live at The Rosette! For more information on The Rosette, read our blog post here

The Saturday show times sold out fast! So we added a third show on Friday at 8pm and are so excited about it! 

Information on their concerts, including the streaming show, is online here

Here is a fantastic sneak peak of Yamandu's virtuosity on his 7-string guitar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXeHPUMpM2U


Live from The Rosette: Duo Noire

Join us Saturday, March 26th, at 4:30pm or 8pm CT for Duo Noire live at The Rosette! Making their Austin debut, the inventive and genre-bending Duo Noire are an inspiration. The 8pm showtime will also be livestreamed! Find ticket information here. This event is sponsored by Layer 3 Real Estate.

 

We are thrilled to present Duo Noire live at The Rosette! For more information on The Rosette, read our blog post here

We are equally if not more excited that they will be visiting guitar classes in Decker Middle School, Northeast High School, Lamar Middle School, and the Williamson County Juvenile Justice Center next week, along with a special community concert!

Information on their concerts, including the streaming show, is online here

Here is a fantastic interview with Duo Noire and ACG Artistic Director, Joe Williams:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPM8iYwKCCE

And here’s an example of their incredible talent and artistry in a performance of new music written just for them by our Artist in Residence, Clarice Assad!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPHTV9D9Z3c


Dreams & Wonders: A Conversation with Matt Hinsley

Join us this weekend, March 5th and 6th, for Dreams & Wonders. Our very own Matt Hinsley will be joined by globe-trotting Lebanese-American vocalist Bouchra Hachem and guitarist William Flores, Sergeant in the US Army Band and an alum of ACG’s education programs. We added a new performance on Saturday at 4:30pm due to fast sales of the other two shows! Find ticket information here.

 

We are so excited to share music with friends this weekend in our new home, The Rosette! We constantly find ourselves in awe of the connections we make with our community and we are ready to celebrate! 

Dreams & Wonders is intended to help celebrate each other, ourselves, and life! We got the opportunity to hear what Matt had to say about what Dreams & Wonders means to him, 

“I try to be in a state of wonder in my waking hours. To me, the world is miraculous. We are surrounded by incomprehensible beauty all the time. Yet, as humans, with our brains, and our fears, and our toils, we are prone to distraction by that which we desire and fear. For me, to be in wonder, is to admit to not knowing, to not owning, to not controlling, but, rather, to be grateful for all the things greater than oneself. 

I think music is a human expression of wonder. Music itself is a language we all understand, yet it has no referential or specific meaning. It is a medium for wonder. I believe when humans have an intention that is tinged with wonder, it manifests as a dream (rather than a goal, or a to-do list). ACG, for me, is a dream.”

Matt will also be joined on stage by Bouchra Hachem and William Flores! 

William is a graduate of ACG Education from McCallum High School from 2008. He joined the US Army Band, and last year as he started contemplating next steps, reached out about giving back to ACG and is now on our Board of Directors! 

Will introduced us to Bouchra, a marvelous Lebanese-American singer who has been dazzling the stage in the Middle East, The Gulf, Turkey, Europe, and the USA with her unique style and boundary breaking musicianship!

We are thrilled to see the three of them light up the stage this weekend! Matt shared,

“I love performing. I don’t do it often, but it is always a joy. And I love making music with others, so being on stage with William and Bouchra is particularly special. 

This concert represents a few huge things. One is that we’ve just opened a new home - our first home - at ACG. I can’t possibly overstate the importance of this historic moment for ACG, and I can only refer back to my comments about wonder and dream as I contemplate its significance. 

Another thing is that we are emerging into a kind of spring time not only seasonally, but with regard to the pandemic as well. Who knows what will happen long term, of course. But at the moment things are opening up, people are emerging and gathering, and we have all developed a new appreciation of the glory and joy of togetherness. I think this concert is a celebration of togetherness.”

We can’t wait to share smiles, conversations, and music with you soon! Learn more about what to expect this weekend in the interview between Matt Hinsley and Artistic Director Joe Williams below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8Z0bWBUDsw

 


Play Series: A Conversation with John Henry McDonald

From the streets of San Francisco to the jungles of Vietnam, from drug addiction, alcoholism and homelessness, to finding his strength and becoming a leading figure in Austin’s financial services sector for 40+ years, John Henry McDonald has lived many lives in one. Learn more about his upcoming performances here.

 

We are so honored to be able to connect with such powerful people who embody what it means to transform into your higher self. We are so inspired by the drive and the generosity of our community. 

We had the privilege of speaking with someone who embodies both transformation and generosity this week! 

John Henry McDonald and his wife, Louise Epstein, connected with ACG through “a perfect convergence of forces,” as John Henry would say. Louise’s father was a classical guitar hobbyist. On Fathers Day of 2006, a year after her father’s passing, John Henry and Louise attended an ACG presentation of Eliot Fisk and the Miro Quartet. At the time, John Henry was searching for a new Board of Directors to be part of after serving on the Austin Lyric Opera board for five years. That day he realized Austin Classical Guitar would be a great fit.

After donating small funds to lots of organizations for many years, John Henry and Louise decided to place a more purposeful intention in their generosity. Twenty years ago, they decided that they would make a greater impact by giving larger amounts to four areas of philanthropy: animals, musicians, recovery, and their religion.

John Henry’s first performance with us, A Guru Named Frank, will take place at Captain Quackenbush on February 23rd at 7:30pm. Find tickets here, all proceeds will benefit the North Austin Foundation.

“Music and the recovery community are a huge part of my story. A story that I've written into a performance called A Guru Named Frank. Frank is a one hour, one-man show that follows me from Vietnam to Austin, Texas. The show includes 12 original tunes, and all proceeds will go to benefit the North Austin Foundation (FBO) 24 hour club for addiction recovery.” -  John Henry McDonald

The 24 Hour Club connected with Project Helping Hand, provides a drug and alcohol-free environment for people recovering from alcohol and/or other drug addictions. They offer Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step meetings along with available support for 24 hours a day. They offer a thirty day opportunity to stay in a safe environment for people in the early stages of recovery. The 24 Hour Club is maintained by the North Austin Foundation, you can learn more about them here.

John Henry’s second performance with us, Come December, will take place at The Rosette on February 24th at 7:30pm. Find tickets here, proceeds will benefit ACG Education.

“The next night, February 24th, Oliver Steck and I will perform in the Austin Classical Guitar's New performance facility, The Rosette. I've written a show that introduces my newest CD Because That's What Old Friends Do. I will explore human conditions and reflect on the  emotional impact of aging in the middle of a pandemic. How on earth will I make that sound joyous? You'll have to come and see. 

All proceeds go to benefit ACG Education.” - John Henry McDonald

 

We are so excited to hear John Henry perform and be swept away by his inspiring presence. We are even more excited for you to join us!  

Learn more about John Henry’s story at his website here!