Gratitude: A Reflection on Home by Justice Phillips

Support ACG! We’ve just announced our end-of-year $250,000 fund drive goal to support our programming in more than 60 local schools, juvenile justice centers, medical centers, and shelters, as well as the activation of our new ACG home, The Rosette! Donate here.

 

This year’s season theme, Home, is probably the most personally meaningful theme I’ve been a part of during my time at ACG. 

I believe Home has a lot of different meanings, and I believe exploring them is a super powerful thing to do. During my young life, I called many different cities, places, and people home and I cherish each and every one.

Gary, Indiana is the place I have the most memories from my early childhood. I lived there from ages 4 through 9 with my mother and my brother. That experience had a profound effect on me. 

 

Writing a piece about Gary was a way to honor the experience I had as a child because I find myself missing it sometimes.

In the piece, Gary, Indiana, I intended to create images of the cold, snow, and Christmas because that’s how I remember it best. I did this by using ethereal harmonies and a floating texture. 

This piece is specifically linked to one Christmas memory I have from when I was 7 years old. My mom, my brother, and I were opening presents and there was a news crew there to document us doing so. I remember loving that experience a lot, and when I went back to school some of my friends even mentioned to me that they saw me in the paper!

Join us for the premiere of Gary, Indiana this weekend, December 10 and 11, as part of our Gratitude concert! Find tickets here.


I Am Strong: A Reflection from Music & Healing Artist Arnold Yzaguirre

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.

 

From our first meeting, I could tell that Misty was/is a beautiful person inside and out. She loves bringing joy to others and her family. I don't know from experience but I've heard it's incredibly difficult to bring others joy when you're dealing with your own pains. Misty does this with ease. So... naturally, we wanted her song to be uplifting and joyful...while telling a little bit of her story. Misty wrote a beautiful letter talking about her first moments in the hospital and how uncomfortable that was but towards the end of the letter, she focused on her love for God and the strength given by that high power. This helps her put things in perspective so that she can be the light for others because, this is the way she wants to spend her time here on this earth.

I sent Misty the very rough draft of the music and after a few days she said she knew of a person who would be perfect to sing on her song. Her friend from church and a beautiful singer, Anita, was delighted to be included. Misty was correct, Anita's voice was the perfect choice and missing piece to this song. 

I had such a wonderful time putting this song together with Misty and Anita and I hope that others can be inspired by it. This is "I am Strong" by Misty.

"It was truly a team effort,  Arnold's amazing music talent, Anita's beautiful voice, I give God all the glory for giving me the right words to express how I was truly feeling in the beginning and now. It was an  honor to be able to work with Arnold and get to know him. I think it's so awesome to be able to turn something that sometimes seems like a death sentence into a beautiful piece of hope. I didn't realize it at the time, but this genuinely did help me more than I can say. It was a little hard putting my feelings on paper and explaining everything. I'm glad I got to have this opportunity though, cause it has been a healing & uplifting experience!!!

I hope you guys know that y'all are all like shining lights to others that have been through rough, heart breaking things in life. 

 You guys help bring hope to all struggling in a difficult time. 

Y'all are a true, rare treasure, showing love, giving your hearts and time for complete strangers. That means  so very much, and all I can say is THANK YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!!!!" -Misty

https://soundcloud.com/austinclassicalguitar/i-am-strong-by-misty-with-arnold?si=f0a367a556ef4c3fbb78fa6747af57d3&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing


From Matt Hinsley: Our December Goal

Support ACG! We’ve just announced our end-of-year $250,000 fund drive goal to support our programming in more than 60 local schools, juvenile justice centers, medical centers, and shelters, as well as the activation of our new ACG home, The Rosette! Donate here.

 

It has been an incredible year at Austin Classical Guitar so far. 

We learned that the education programs we’ve built in AISD, that started as a dream over twenty years ago, now enroll more students than any other music class in middle or high school across AISD besides band.

Our work in the juvenile justice system, that is the first and only daily for-credit performing arts class for incarcerated youth in Texas ever, expanded to serve in a fifth facility in Dallas, and our first-of-its kind braille lifelong learning system was officially adopted by another nation’s Ministry of Education as a national curricular model.

And we opened The Rosette! The Rosette is the only theater in America created by an organization such as ours. It exists to bring joy and inspiration to our community through art, and my oh my how it has begun to live and breathe. 

So today I am announcing a December Fundraising Goal of $250,000.

Thousands of young people in central Texas alone are learning with ACG systems and training, and our team is out there every day making it as good as it can be. I’d like to be able to support them. Almost fifty students in Title One Schools are receiving free weekly lessons they would not likely otherwise be able to afford, the results are miraculous, and I’d like to support them. The Rosette is beautiful, but it’s not finished, and our team is building more, designing, and supporting on average more than one community-based event every day. I’d like to support them.

Today I’m asking you to join me. It might be with a phone call to 512-300-2247 set up lunch, it might be an email with an introduction, it might be a major gift or planned gift for our endowment to name one of our programs or one of our offices, or it might be a donation of any size made online here.

Remarkable things have happened thanks to friends like you. Truly remarkable things that have never happened, anywhere else, in our nation’s history. Through music we’ve had a chance to nurture, and heal, and educate, and share. And we’re just getting started. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

 

Matt Hinsley, Executive Director

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

Read more about Marek's arrival 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! 

Learn more about the next steps in this process here.

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.

 


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.