Art: Rosette Lounge 2

Here are three special photographs with three special stories. 

1) William Flores graduated from our McCallum High School guitar program in 2008. This photograph was taken that spring by David Tietz of Editorial Image during a multi-school performance ACG hosted at the Mexican American Cultural Center. William left high school and went directly into the US Army Band as a guitarist, where he would serve for the next twelve years. In 2021, William returned to Austin, reached out to ACG, and asked to give back. He is now a member of the ACG Board of Directors. 

2) Pilar Andujar is an inspiring flamenco dancer who frequently traveled to Austin from her home in Spain. After inaugurating our FlamencoAustin series in 2011, we began partnering with Pilar for performances large and small. Here she is, photographed by Arlen Nydam, dancing outside The Long Center in 2013 before the Niño de Pura troupe performed their US debut in Dell Hall.

Here’s a taste of Pilar’s amazing talent, from a show we produced in a downtown Austin loft in 2015. Enjoy!

3) Edward Kimball is a longtime member of our ACG Community Ensemble. He wrote this letter about guitar and horses:

Every Tuesday morning I go out to a place called Healing With Horses Ranch in Manor, TX.  HWHR helps children and adults with a wide variety of physical and emotional afflictions.  Its services are free for military veterans like me, and the rest pay fees.  

Along with ACG, visiting HWHR is what I’ve been doing to cope with my chronic ankle pain & surgery recovery, hearing disability and struggles with major depressive disorder.  We all must figure out ways to compensate for the genetic hand we’ve been dealt.

Because of my previous experience with horses, my instructors steered me into more refined aspects of horsemanship. Sort of like the difference between the folk-song strumming most of us did “back in the day,” and learning classical guitar. 

I’ve been kicked, bitten, bucked off and fallen with a horse. I’ve trained a few, and ended up being trained by them.  Obviously I love horses.  Most of them read human emotions better than humans.  

For some strange reason I don’t understand, while at home working on solo pieces on guitar, thinking about phrasing, my mind will wander, sometimes reflecting on things instructors said to me that week about handling horses.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that the subtle details of classical guitar, and the nuances of horsemanship, have much in common.  

I’ve been going to Healing With Horses Ranch since 2017. I’ve been involved with Austin Classical Guitar since 2010. To cut to the chase, as they say, the experiences have begun to meld.  

From my two instructors at HWHR, Crystal & Libby, I’ve been taught “nuance,” subtle positioning of body parts while riding, as well as connecting and communicating with the horse while on the ground. Meanwhile, as a member of ACG Community Guitarist Ensembles, I’ve been learning “nuance” from Carlos, Eric, and now Tony, as well as fellow members of our groups.  


Art: Rosette Lounge 1

These three portraits – of Angelica Campbell, Justice Phillips, and Claire Puckett – were shot in October 2021, by photographer Phil Kline right here at the Baker School. Photos from that shoot were then published as part of a feature by Brian C. Parker in the December issue of Tribeza Magazine.

Angelica, Justice, and Claire are all members of the ACG team, and they are also all alumni of our education programs. In recent years it has been a great joy to have alumni return as teachers in AISD, performing and composing artists, educators, interns, and staff members.

Read the Tribeza feature here.

Angelica Campbell is ACG’s Director of Communications. Angelica created the post you’re reading right now, for example!

Claire Puckett is our Music & Healing program manager and is, herself an ACG Music & Healing artist. ACG Music & Healing pairs carefully trained artists with individuals facing a variety of challenges to help process and channel emotions into meaningful musical experiences, often a co-written song. You can read more about ACG Music & Healing online here, and here’s an example of a song Claire wrote with clients at Dell Children’s Hospital NICU.

 

Justice Phillips is our Director of Customer Experience. If you’ve bought tickets from ACG, you’ve probably heard from Justice! Justice is also a super talented guitarist and composer. Here’s a piece he recently wrote for his middle school alma mater, Lively Middle School that was a collaboration with Lively’s dance, guitar, and orchestra programs.

 


Art: The Paper Guitar

This guitar is made of paper. Copy paper, specifically. Yarn and tape were used in the detailed, caring construction as well.

It was made by one of our students; let’s call him David. David was incarcerated at the Travis County Juvenile Justice Center where one of our staff educators, Jeremy Osborne, taught every class day for seven years. David discovered the guitar, and discovered his ability to learn, practice, perform, and excel on it, in these classes. While he was a student, David played a solo for over one hundred people in the courthouse and received a standing ovation—the first standing ovation of his life, for anything.

Like a lot of kids in detention, David struggled with motivation, especially with the work he had to do for school and as part of the conditions of his sentence. Guitar changed all of that. If you talked to any of his counselors at the time they’d tell you – since he picked up the guitar, David’s attitude toward his work was transformed.

Jeremy did not visit the detention center as frequently over the summers, just once or twice a week to check in, give a lesson, make contact. When the new semester began, Jeremy was back to teaching two classes a day. During that first week one of the facility staff members pulled him aside. “You need to see something,” he said.

Jeremy was escorted to a room in another part of the secure facility, where the paper guitar was displayed on its stand. It was David’s guitar, the guitar he had spent the summer creating by carefully rolling and shaping and taping pieces of copy paper, while waiting for Jeremy to come back and for the guitar class to start up again.

We reach people through music education. Where other pursuits might fail, music can forge powerful connections that last a lifetime. Studying music can reveal a better path, and link an individual to themselves and to their community.

At Austin Classical Guitar we think about this a lot. Perhaps it is the absence of specific referential meaning in music—the inherent mystery of musical communication—that helps make a positive musical learning environment a safe, nurturing place to discover one’s identity.

As the number of students we serve grows, so does our responsibility as a teaching community to do the best job we can to discover and promote those attributes of instruction that fuel positive student experiences in arts education.

We need to do this so that the kids we serve will make the kinds of connections with music, with each other, with our community, and with themselves that high-quality arts education can deliver. We need to do this so that more kids like David, who have struggled, who have made bad decisions, who are alienated and at-risk of dropping out of school or worse, will have a safe and supportive place to make something special that they can build an identity around and be proud of.

We’ve placed The Paper Guitar at the center of The Rosette to remind us of the power of music to do good in the world.


Art: Rosette Hallway

In this hallway you’ll find two photographs. 

The first is a moment before a performance by our ACG Youth Orchestra at Spokesman Coffee Bar, captured by Arlen Nydam. ACGYO is made up of young guitarists from across Austin who dedicate their time and talent to making magical things happen. They’ve performed in major venues, went on concert tours, collaborated with others, premiered new works of music, and made amazing recordings. Here is a very special 360-degree video they made on the rooftop of The Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Austin with their director, and ACG’s Artistic Director, Joe Williams. 

The second is portrait by photographer Bill Sallans of former ACG student Devin Gutierrez which appeared on the cover of Austin Monthly Magazine as part of a special feature on ACG Education by Renuka Rayasam. At the time Devin was a student at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. ACG has been working at TSBVI since 2010, and in recent years has developed a braille lifelong learning resource called LetsPlayGuitar.org which is used worldwide. Here’s a video feature by Woody Harrison about the guitar program at TSBVI.


Art: Rosette Entrance

Welcome to The Rosette! Hanging in the Entrance are four photographs: an outdoor performance with film projection from June 2012 of an original live film score to accompany the movie THE UNKNOWN, across from three adorable photos from a 2017 special event related to Pixar’s film COCO.

THE UNKNOWN is a silent film starring Lon Chaney Sr. and Joan Crawford (!) released in 1927. The story goes that the film reels were labeled “Unknown” and, as a result, were lost for decades in a film archive assuming they contained unknown footage. It was not until the 1980’s they were identified as containing this wild gem of an early silent thriller. And it is wild! 

On the recommendation of Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas founder Tim League, ACG commissioned a new musical score to accompany the film, composed by European-based guitar duo Les Freres Meduses (Randall Avers & Benoit Albert). The piece, for two guitars and violin, was premiered outside in the lower grounds of Austin’s Laguna Gloria by the duo with violinist William Fedkenheuer, in collaboration with the Alamo’s Rolling Roadshow. 

The photograph is by Arlen Nydam. 

The three photos on the opposite wall are from another ACG/Alamo special event that took place on the opening weekend of Disney/Pixar’s COCO. We thought it would be fun to create an event where kids coming to see the film would learn to play the song featured in the movie trailer, in 30 minutes or less, right before watching the movie itself. With a little re-tuning, and a small backing band, we got it done! Here’s the video.

We’ve chosen these four photos, taken by Heather Leah Kennedy, for The Rosette Entrance because The Rosette, itself, is a giant collaboration with Karrie and Tim League, and by extension the Alamo Drafthouse. The Baker Center, where The Rosette is located, is a beautiful historic school, purchased and lovingly restored by the Leagues with their longtime architectural partner Richard Weiss. The Leagues, Weiss, ACG, and GC Mac Smith envisioned and created The Rosette together as a space for ACG to expand its service mission of inspiring individuals in our community through experiences of deep personal significance.


Top Ten of 2021

What a year it’s been! Back in the spring we finished our 30th season having produced nearly forty broadcast-quality streaming shows with zero in-person events. Over the summer we moved into our new home at the Baker Center in Hyde Park, developed our plans to build our new venue, The Rosette, and launched a new season that included a return to in-person classes and rehearsals, and in-person concerts with streaming options.

2021 has been topsy turvy indeed, but so many beautiful things happened along the way. We had a blast putting together this Top Ten list, we are profoundly grateful that we’ve been able to continue to make music through all the challenges, and we are very excited for the future. Enjoy!

#10 ACG Production Team: David Russell + Students in 360

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPLo9ZEGKcA

Our production team gets a huge round of applause! After designing super-advanced remote streaming solutions last season, ACG Production, led by director Jess Griggs, transitioned back to in-person concerts, leveled up in every way, maintained streaming options, and supported ambitious multi-media projects like this 360-degree video featuring David Russell and 28 students. Fun fact: this video was filmed on march 5th, 2020, a week before Austin went into lockdown, in the room that would later become our new venue, The Rosette! We didn’t even know it at the time.

We have so many people to thank, but we’d like to be sure and mention our Director of Events Jen Bamberg, recently departed Director of Curriculum Eric Pearson (we miss you Eric!), audio genius and supremely generous soul Todd Waldron, Josh Stern and Chris Zeid of Reality Based Group, and Kevin Chin of Northshore Media. 

#9 Music & Healing: I Can Do This, by Dolly with ACG’s Shayna Sands

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBH1Suv66Vs

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.

Our Music & Healing Program is directed by Travis Marcum, and capacity has grown recently thanks in part to the addition of our new program facilitator, and ACG alum, Claire Puckett. The heartfelt and beautiful song featured above was just completed and performed earlier this month by ACG Music & Healing artist Shayna Sands. It’s just one example of many beautiful songs written in 2021 through this special program. 

#8 Javier Niño Scholarship: Juan Itzep & Edan Tapia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCSADzgpLi4

We couldn’t be more proud of our newest Javier Niño Scholarship winners Juan Itzep of McCallum High School and Edan Tapia of Akins High School. Both students received concert instruments from generous ACG donor Carson McCowen, have weekly individual lessons with some of Austin’s best teachers, and will participate in a range of special performance opportunities throughout the year. For example, Juan and Edan performed to open our packed concerts with Ana Vidovic in November. Learn more about Juan Itzep, and our scholarship’s namesake, Javier Niño, in this recent feature article.

#7 ACG Alumni

Austin Classical Guitar Inspires Hope & Artistic Vision, Tribeza

Many of our deepest relationships over the years have come about as a result of our free lessons initiative. Since 2001 ACG has provided free individual lessons for certain students in our community, and often the relationships have lasted for years both in school and beyond. Particularly heart-warming is the trend in recent years of students coming back after college to serve as teachers in AISD, or even to work on the ACG team. Saul Hernandez, Javier Saucedo, and Susana Diaz-Lopez are all ACG graduates now working as full time teachers for AISD, and this gorgeous article in the November issue of tribeza magazine features three other ACG alumni who are now our our ACG team: Justice Phillips, Angelica Campbell, and Claire Puckett. Enjoy!

#6 Over 90 Commissions!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3Ch3ObhRMQ&list=PL7wuzEY0eIyAh_xDAikDtCZlAb0JPmkQR

Heading into the pandemic lockdown we established a few top priorities at ACG. First and foremost we wanted to continue to be a place of beauty and kindness for our community. Second, we wanted to continue to make great art, and support our many partner teachers and students to support great education. Third, we wanted to pay more artists than ever before to perform, teach, and create personal, meaningful, inspiring art. Supporting all of these goals was a new level of commissioning, led by ACG Artistic Director Joe Williams. In the 20-21 season, Joe would commission an astonishing ninety new works including, music, dance, and multimedia. The piece featured above was written by Justice Phillips for the guitar and dance programs at Lively Middle School, where Justice himself had attended middle school and first discovered guitar. The piece was developed in partnership with Lively’s guitar director Meredith McAlmon, and dance director Claire Barclay. ACG’s production team  filmed the performance at AISD Performing Arts Center. 

Here are some other 2021 commissions you might enjoy: Adelante by Alan Retamozo performed by Austin Classical Guitar Chamber Ensemble directed by Tony Mariano; Hello, I just wanted to see how you are doing by Cassie Shankman, performed by Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra directed by Joe Williams; and Winter to Spring by Justice Phillips performed by Austin Classical Guitar Youth Camerata directed by Stephen Krishnan. You can find more on our YouTube page!

#5 HOPE 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX5yT5deXJg

This show was sooo good. Sixteen amazing artists from thirteen countries, including four marvelous students from around the US, sent us music and messages of hope. We think this show stacks up against anything you’ll find on Netflix - or anywhere else for that matter! Dim the lights, crank the volume, make some popcorn, and enjoy!

#4 ACG Education: Clarice Assad Residency

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72-Vc2eNcmA

Clarice Assad is so cool. She was already super cool, but then last month she got three new Grammy nominations for her newest album with her dad Sergio, and Third Coast Percussion. ACG Artistic Director Joe Williams had the vision last year to ask Clarice to be our 21-22 Artist in Residence, and we were thrilled when she said yes.

This year she’s doing so much, but the simplest version involves three big things: 1) She’s working with over fifty-five students to write an amazing piece together, and working with a bunch of our other students as well. 2) She’ll premiere that new piece, with those students, and her dad, in our January 29 concert OPEN. 3) She’s also writing a new piece for the Miró Quartet and Jorge Caballero to premiere at our Season Finale in May.

The video above is a sneak peek into the magic she’s been making with students this fall. Huge thanks to Kevin Chin and Northshore Media, ACG Production, ACG Education, and atsec information security for their generous sponsorship fo Clarice Assad’s 21-22 Residency at ACG. 

#3 In-Person Concerts!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qPudTSM3G4

It felt SO AMAZING to be back in person this fall. Seeing our volunteers again, seeing friends new and old walking up the stairs at the new KMFA building, feeling the pre-show excitement, and hearing the applause, made our hearts pound and our spirits rise. The video above is of An Tran’s gorgeous performance on Halloween weekend. If you saw it already, we know you’ll enjoy it again, and if you haven’t seen it yet, then you’re in for a real treat!

#2 Jeremy Osborne: The One and Only

Jeremy: you’ve changed all our lives, lifted thousands in schools near and far for years, and we are forever grateful. 

Jeremy Osborne joined ACG Education in 2008. In 2014 he took over our Juvenile Justice System programs and made magic in one of the most complicated environments any of us can imagine. The time has come for him to go on to the next adventure. We’ll miss him so much, but we’re thrilled for all that awaits. 

ACG’s services in Juvenile Justice expanded in the past year to include Pheonix House and Dallas County. We are increasingly part of the national conversation about arts and juvenile justice, and Jeremy and ACG Education Director Travis Marcum recently wrote this article about ACG Juvenile Justice services for Arts Education Partnership. We’re thrilled to welcome our new Director of Juvenile Justice Service, Hector Aguilar, in January!

#1 The Rosette

It doesn’t get any bigger than this!

We were overjoyed to begin our 31st year in our new Hyde Park home in the Baker Center at 39th Street and Avenue B. In partnership with our friends Karrie & Tim League, founders of The Alamo Drafthouse, construction has begun on a 100-seat listening room and broadcast studio we’ll call The Rosette, alongside multiple indoor and outdoor concert, reception, and creative learning spaces.

Home.

Our highest goal for our new home, is that it will be your home too. Whether you’re an audience member in-person or online, a player in a class or ensemble, a volunteer, a graduate of our school programs, a scholar researching in our library, a teacher being trained, or a student making an audition video, our hope is that you will experience kindness and welcoming each time you visit.

The Rosette will include state-of-the-art lighting and sound, and have broadcast-quality audio and video recording and streaming capability. We are planning concerts, classes, rehearsals, collaborations, and gatherings of all kinds!  

Why is it called The Rosette? As you might know, a rosette is the ornate mosaic design surrounding the sound hole of every guitar. Each guitar maker has a unique rosette, it’s like a signature. Believe it or not, one of many very special features of our new home is a sixty-inch custom rosette inset into the center of the hardwood floor in our lounge!

We are deeply grateful for the partnership and support of Karrie & Tim League and the Alamo Drafthouse for making our new home possible. We are deeply grateful for our matching donors: Dr. Lynne Boggs & Bill Cariker, Dan Bullock & Annette Carlozzi, Mercedes-Benz of Austin, The Raley Family, Rick & Valeri Reeder, The Ben & Nancy Sander Family, and an Anonymous Donor. We are grateful to all our supporters who have believed in us for the past three decades, and who believe in the power of music to do good in the world. 

We can’t wait to welcome you into our new home when it opens in the New Year.


A Conversation with Ana Vidovic

Our fall 2021 series closes with superstar Ana Vidovic performing three concerts int he Draylen mason Music Studio at KMFA’s new building in Austin on November 13 at 4:30 and 8, and November 14 at 4:30. The November 13 8pm CT concert will also be live-streamed. Ticket information is here: In-Person / Live-Stream.

We’re thrilled to welcome Ana Vidovic back to Austin.

Our Artistic Director, Joe Wiliams, had a marvelous conversation with Ana we know you’ll enjoy. And to view Ana’s concert program for the weekend, click here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkkXm3xGJNo

 


A Conversation with An Tran

We’re thrilled to present An Tran in concert on Saturday, October 30 at 4:30 and 8 and Sunday October 31 at 4:30. The Saturday 8pm concert will also be live-streamed. Tickets and information are here: In-Person / Online. Here’s a new interview with An Tran and ACG’s Artistic Director Joe Williams about the program. 

Gaining inspiration from the interconnectedness of music, cultures and people, An Tran is an internationally acclaimed Vietnamese classical guitarist and winner of over 13 international competitions and awards. We’re thrilled to welcome him back to Austin to perform three, one-hour concerts on October 30 at 4:30 and 8pm, and October 31 at 4:30pm in the gorgeous Draylen Mason Music Studio inside KMFA’s new headquarters building in central Austin. The Saturday evening concert will be live-streamed. Tickets and information are here: In-Person / Online.

An’s debut album, entitledStay, My Beloved, takes listeners on an emotional journey through the rich soundscapes of his homeland. We loved the album, an invited him to perform the selections live in his concerts here in Austin. Our Artistic Director, Joe Williams, had a recent conversation with An Tran, in which they discussed his artistry and the upcoming program.

https://youtu.be/dbIA-YLwOO8

Plus, we’d like to share one more really special thing with you. Last February 2021 we invited sixteen incredible musicians from around the world to share beautiful music and messages with us for a concert we called HOPE. Here is a video of An Tran’s message and performance from that special occasion. Enjoy!


ACG Programs are Now Works of Art

We’re thrilled to present An Tran in concert on Saturday, October 30 at 4:30 and 8 and Sunday October 31 at 4:30. The Saturday 8pm concert will also be live-streamed. Tickets and information are here: In-Person / Online. Here’s a story about a very exciting new feature of ACG concert events. Enjoy!

A particularly cool new partnership has grown out of our recent move into the Baker Center in Hyde Park. This is the same space where we’re building our new home for guitar called The Rosette! We'll share much more on that very soon.

One of our new neighbors at the Baker Center is Mondo the ultra-creative art company connected to the Alamo Drafthouse. Mondo makes puzzles, books, games, and all kinds of creative merchandise, it’s always fun to see what they’re up to. Among many other things, Mondo has a full-fledged old-style print shop run by master printer Travis Lewis. We got talking one day and thought it would be a beautiful thing if, from now on, ACG’s concert programs could become limited-series original prints of newly-commissioned works by Austin-based visual artists. It would make our concert programs memorable keepsakes from each unique concert experience we present. Plus, it would help us support more artists!

So we’re thrilled to share a few photos of the process in action. Here is our concert program for our October 30-31 concerts with the lyrical guitar virtuoso An Tran, being made by Travis in the Mondo print shop at Baker Center. The artwork was made by artist Lance Letscher who we found through our partners at Flatbed Press. We can’t wait to place these beautiful prints in guests’ hands at An Tran’s concerts over the weekend.

Would you like to join us? Tickets and information are here: In-Person / Online


ACG at 31: A Letter From Matt Hinsley

ACG turns thirty-one this year and there is so many amazing things coming. Here is a letter from our Executive Director, Matt Hinsley, expressing the gratitude we share for our community and exciting things happening in the next coming months. We could not be where we are today without the incredible support we receive from you, our community! Learn more about supporting ACG here. 

It was twenty-five years ago this week that I arrived in Austin. 

I could not have imagined at the time that in the next quarter-century this community, and this ACG team, would make an education system that would help create guitar programs in public schools across America, that we’d develop a braille lifelong learning resource that would be used internationally, that our team would pioneer supportive, caring, daily music education in the juvenile justice system, that we’d partner with dozens of care-providers to use music as a way to bring restorative healing to people facing isolation or trauma, or that over time we would grow to be one of the most prolific presenters of international artistry on the classical guitar of all time.

Last week I spent an hour on the phone with a gentleman in a rural retirement home who is learning to play guitar for the first time using our braille learning system. He’s eighty-one, he lost his sight four years ago, and he decided to learn guitar. He was calling because he had used the audio guides to learn our first level – about five pieces of music – and wanted to know what to do next. When I told him there were seven more levels, and about forty-five more pieces to learn he got so excited, I wish everyone in the world could have experienced the joy and anticipation in his voice.

This week school started. We’re helping programs near and far connect with qualified teachers in our network, we’re buying and loaning dozens of guitars for new and growing programs, and beginning instruction and training in four Texas juvenile justice centers. 

Next week we are releasing our fall season. With in person and online options we're so excited to share music and spectacular artistry with our local and international community. So much beauty is on the horizon.

I also have some really, really big news. 

Austin Classical Guitar is building our first home. In partnership with Alamo Drafthouse, we’re creating a guitar-inspired listening room in Hyde Park with multi-media recording and broadcast capabilities. Our new home will be a welcoming center for creativity, learning, and togetherness.

So adding to the list of things I could not have possibly imagined in August 1996, is that this fall, on the twentieth anniversary of the start of our Education program, we’ll be opening a central Austin concert venue and center for creative collaboration and learning inspired by classical guitar. In the weeks to come, we’ll share news of our new venue, and of our streaming and in-person concerts for the upcoming season. 

I am profoundly grateful to friends like you in our community, who have joined us on this journey of hope and inspiration, and I look forward to celebrating kindness and beauty with you in the months ahead.

Sincerely,

Matt Hinsley, Executive Director