ACG 2020 Holiday Special

We are so pleased to share magic with you this holiday season. We wish you an incredible holiday and a happy New Year. If you would like to support our artists and services here at ACG, click here

Celebrate the holidays with this 30-minute ACG special featuring special guests Claudia Chapa, Arnold Yzaguirre, Grisha, Pepe Romero, and young artists and dancers from all around Austin. 

We also invite you to dive into our ACG Top Ten of 2020 list featuring some of our favorite happenings during this wild year, as well as our 2020 Education Report featuring some of the magic happening in our school systems. 

Thank you for standing with us this year, and for your belief in the power of music to do good in the world.



Austin Now: The Space In Between

This concert occurred on November 7th. Austin Now events are conceived to be unique, moments of creation and togetherness. 

The Space In Between brings together three of our most-beloved partners: Multi-instrumentalist-global-citizen-artist Oliver Rajamani, KUT/KUTX voice of Austin for more than fifty years John Aielli, and Hartt Stearns with the breathtaking One World Theatre.

Read this interview with Oliver Rajamani and learn more about his connection to this event here.

UpClose Online: Pepe Romero

UpClose Online events are conceived to be unique, one-time, moments of creation and togetherness.

This concert occurred on September 26th.  Due to an overwhelming international response, however, Mr. Romero and ACG have agreed that this concert will remain online for a limited time. 

Read up on Pepe's connection with ACG here.


UpClose Online: Andrea González Caballero

Saturday, November 14th, we will experience the beauty and transcendence of one of the most remarkable young talents in the guitar world, Andrea González Caballero. Andrea will take us into the depths of spanish classical guitar in the intimate setting of our UpClose Online series. RSVP Online Here. Free, donations accepted. 


We had the pleasure of speaking recently with Andrea, and getting to know more about her as an artist. She talked about her upbringing as a young musician:

“I was 7 years old when I began playing the guitar, I found it very challenging but at the same time enjoyable. I started doing competitions after my first year learning how to play; I think being a determined child helped me develop the idea of becoming a professional musician. I started travelling to Germany to have private lessons with Prof. Joaquín Clerch at the age of 12 and then ended up doing my Bachelors, Masters and Konzertexam Diploma at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf. All these experiences, good and bad, helped me develop as an artist and as a person. I have lived in four different countries and that in itself has taught me a lot. Two years ago, I moved to Baltimore to study with Prof. Manuel Barrueco.” 

Music and art contain a deep and powerful meaning for everyone, but the connection differs from person to person. Andrea shared a few words about what music means to her: 

“Music is something that is always by your side when you need it. I focus most of my energy on being a better musician, knowing more about music, or trying to be a finer guitarist. But, to be able to achieve it, one has to see the music as something so powerful that it will always be above us. The best thing we can do is to enjoy it and respect it.”

Andrea also wished to share her intentions in the performance with her audience: 

“First of all, I hope they will enjoy the program that I have prepared and I hope they can feel the music and enjoy it as much as I do. All I try is to do is be honest with my performance and make the music stand, because that is the most important thing a performer can do.”

Austin Now: The Space In Between conversation with Oliver Rajamani

We are thrilled to co-present this extraordinary concert with One World Theatre on Saturday, November 7th at 8pm CST as part of our Austin Now Series. RSVP Online Here

The Space In Between brings together three of our most-beloved partners: Multi-instrumentalist-global-citizen-artist Oliver Rajamani, KUT/KUTX voice of Austin for more than fifty years John Aielli, and Hartt Stearns with the breathtaking One World Theatre.

We asked Oliver his thoughts about performing with John Aielli, and he told us this fun uniquely Austin story:

“Believe it or not, the very first time I played music in public in Austin was on John Aielli’s radio show. It would have been in 1995. I did a show with Arthur Brown [famous English rock-n-roll star]. Austin was a small town, it was around SXSW time, and I randomly ran into famed British rock legend Arthur Brown at Whole Foods. We got talking, and he was really fascinated that I played Indian Tabla. So he invited me to play on this radio show the very next day—we didn’t even practice! I just went with him, and found myself performing in Studio 1A with John Aielli.” 

But the beautiful and deep connections don’t stop there! Hartt Stearns, Executive Director and Co-Founder of One World Theater had this to say about presenting Oliver Rajamani at this time:

“Nada and I met Oliver after we moved to Austin more than 25 years ago.  We played music together, along with nurturing many talented young musicians along the way, and One World has sponsored Oliver for over 20 years. Our collaborations and friendship for so many years has made him feel like family, spiritually and artistically, which should help to make this concert extra special, especially when patrons are thirsty for performances of depth. I don’t know of a better musician in Austin than Oliver that encompasses the concept of One World which from our perspective is so important at this point in time. When you add John Aielli’s participation, who has interviewed so many One World Theatre artists since we opened, all of this feels like a family homecoming for One World.”

Oliver also shared some deep insights about the performance itself, The Space In Between, which will combine John Aielli reading poetry, with Oliver’s music, played live and broadcast from the One World Theatre stage:

“The space in between two musical notes gives way for emotion to be expressed. 

The space in and between words and letters gives life to a poem or a story. 

The space inside a house creates the warmth of a home.

The space in the emptiness of a cooking pot gives food and nourishment.

The hollowness of a guitar offers the opportunity for sound and music."

“Space is crucial in life.  It is the place of pure potential, inspiration and creativity. It is the stage where all the elusive magical drama of life and death takes place. Space holds all things physical and psychological. Without space nothing can manifest, yet space is only the gateway to awareness (for lack of a word). It has no form, description, time, beginning or end. It was never created, and thus will not die."

“During this time of covid, the whole of humanity is living in a state of fear and anxiety, life and death. But all this drama needs a stage on which to take place.  And it takes place in the Space that gave birth to life and death. So during these challenging times in our physical and psychological worlds, the Space is present in between our thoughts, emotions and our physical beings. When we can become more present in that reality of our oneness with it, rather than only seeing the drama of life that makes us go crazy, we are able to approach our fears and anxieties, and the realities of life-responsibility, with awareness. It may be difficult and challenging, but it is not impossible."

“As friends, professionals and human beings—working together with Hartt, John, Matt, Joe and others—to bring this program to the general public, I believe we are all connecting to this Space In Between. We work to bring that realization and experience to others through the medium of art. Art is created and drawn and inspired from that well of The Space In Between and thus serves as the gateway. An elusive hint at what we are truly made of: space and awareness.”

Rounding out this beautiful conversation, Hartt talked about what it means to be making art at One World Theatre now, despite the pandemic:

“The concept of being ‘one’ is what the space of One World Theatre is all about. Music and the arts are among the best mediums for connecting the world, and allowing us to lose ourselves, transcending our daily challenges into a higher place of oneness. The pandemic has definitely created greater challenges for us all to overcome, but evolution is facilitated through difficult times, not necessarily when things go the way we want them to. To me, all of this translates into the importance of having patrons witness a concert like this at One World Theatre.”

For insight into Rajamani’s extraordinary artistry, we invite you to watch the video below.

We at ACG are so excited to experience and share the collaboration of two incredibly talented Austin artists with you in The Space In Between


Connections: Manor ISD Guitar

ACG turns 30 this year! In celebration, one of our generous supporters is matching every gift up to $50,000 between now and our opening concert with maestro Pepe Romero on September 26th! Make a gift today.

Connections are so vital for us to recognize during this current reality that, at times, can make us feel far apart. A beautiful facet of music is the ability to create deep connections between people even at a distance or through a screen. Manor ISD is a beautiful example of the fine arts community blossoming even through the current challenges.

Decker Middle School Fine Arts Academy in Manor has caught our eye with their impressive program growth and expansive community engagement.  We spoke with the Manor ISD Director of Fine Arts, Dr. Bethany Logan, who shared:

 “The impact of our programs has resulted in partners such as Austin Classical Guitar to not only invest in our talented scholars, but also help MISD provide opportunities to students. Our community recognizes the importance and necessity that the Fine Arts bring to our scholars’ education, and as a result our programs are thriving!”

We also spoke with the guitar program director of Decker Middle School, Victor Longoria, who was able to shed some light on his musical and cultural background that he says helps him to relate with his students and community.

“I started at a young age with Norteño music through my grandfather’s group ‘Los Leones del Norte.’ I then branched out to other genres and found myself wanting to study the guitar. I studied at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where I focused on classical and flamenco guitar.”

Victor also shared his ability to connect with his students through their cultures and interests.

“The students and families in Manor have a special connection to the guitar because of the instrument’s connection to many cultures around the globe. I make connections with my students by asking them engaging questions about their interests, and try to implement that in class by playing them their favorite songs or movie sound-tracks on the guitar. I also speak Spanish fluently which helps comfort my Spanish speaking students.”

In light of COVID-19, Victor shared his adjustments to virtual music education.

“We are focusing on Social and Emotional learning since we are currently fully online. Thanks to the support of ACG and Manor ISD we got new guitars for each of the students to have in their homes. For repertoire and instruction, we use ACG’s Guitar Curriculum. We also teach our students music theory and use apps that are easy for the students to learn to tune their guitars for virtual guitar class.”

Decker Middle School currently has an astonishing 145 students enrolled in the guitar program. Manor ISD is also beginning their first high school program, and 90 students are already enrolled. The work being done to expand the fine arts community by Manor ISD is incredibly inspiring, and we are so grateful to be a part of it. 

Dr. Logan, Mr. Longoria, and the students and parents of Manor ISD show us that, despite the current pandemic situation, we can continue to grow and achieve as musicians, artists, and human beings. 

We are especially grateful to the Applied Materials Foundation, who for years has generously supported our work in Manor ISD.


Share your Ofrendas

This Fall, we are collaborating with Mexic-Arte Museum for a special project called Ofrendas and you are invited to get involved! 

As part of Día de Muertos, altars are created to honor the memories of loved ones who have passed. The altars are decorated with ofrendas, personal objects to encourage their spirits to return and join the celebration. 

We are creating an ACG Community Altar for Mexic-Arte’s virtual exhibit and we would be honored if you would share some memories with us. 

Just send a photograph and a short note about your loved one to ofrendas@austinclassicalguitar.orgThis is an opportunity for celebration. Think about the happiest times you shared, the happy memories you cherish, maybe music you shared or something else. 

Send your ofrendas by September 11 and we will include this in the ACG Community Altar. If you send it after September 11, we will feature it on our website and as part of the finale Ofrendas event on October 29. RSVP for the finale online here

Questions?  Email Thank you!

Ofrendas photography by Chris Caselli

National Teacher Summit: The "New Normal"

ACG turns 30 this year! In celebration, one of our generous supporters is matching every gift up to $50,000 between now and our opening concert with maestro Pepe Romero on September 26th! Make a gift today.

Adjusting to the “new normal” with COVID-19 has been a whirlwind as we navigate different approaches to exist and be productive in our new socially-distanced reality. As musicians and music educators, it’s tricky to grasp how to make a hands-on artistic and education process effective virtually. Our staff has collaborated with educators around the globe to share creative solutions to be successful despite these circumstances.

This summer we held our National Teacher Summit via Zoom and Canvas, online platforms that schools commonly use for interactive teaching. We held the Summit to introduce the technology, but also as a way of putting the participants in the seats of their students. Through these interactive lessons, they were able to experience first-hand how online music education could work in these unusual circumstances.

After the Summit, we had the opportunity to speak with some of the educators that participated. Michael Kagan, a high school teacher in Kentucky, expressed a sense of relief for the upcoming school year after attending.


“It’s important that I find meaningful ways for students to collaborate with one another. In the spring, I was happy that my students were able to focus on solo literature and etudes, but it was a little insular. Participating in the Summit affirmed my commitment to make ensemble playing work. Now I’m finding an opportunity to teach my kids how to use recording software: how to take someone else’s track, drop it in, and play along to contribute to a multi-track.”


Steven Sabet, a high school teacher from New Jersey, was grateful that the Summit was free.


“I imagine some teachers lost their jobs, so a free professional development opportunity would be needed. I signed up because it gave us resources to use during the pandemic, and showed us different techniques to make remote teaching and learning work. I learned a lot, and got to meet and share ideas with teachers from around the country.”


Many of the other teachers we spoke with had similar experiences and responses. The most common reaction was recognizing their position as a student during the training.

“The most helpful sessions were those in which the instructors used zoom as they would with their students. It was fabulous to see modeling, and very enlightening to take on the role of a student and complete assignments in the form of small tasks delivered in a personable video. Doing it myself gave me a better understanding of what I may ask my students to do, as well as building my confidence for providing personalized content during remote teaching.”


Despite the challenges presented to us by this pandemic, we are looking forward to making music with teachers and students near and far this fall. The courage, imagination and dedication we’ve seen both from young people, and from the professionals we’re working with, is truly inspiring. We can’t wait to share the results in the months to come!


“It was a truly beautiful experience to share and learn from one another. The ACG staff created a warm, inclusive culture for all the participants - there were orchestra and band teachers, guitar virtuosos, nationally acclaimed conductors, and everyone in between. We all came to grow and learn how to better serve our students.”

-Michael Kagan


Hopeful Things: Solace Project & Malagueña

The Solace Project

Last spring, as the world began to reckon with the implications of a global pandemic, here at ACG we faced a conundrum: Normally in April we would host “ACG Fest,” 100 guitarists from around the state and beyond gathering to make music together, attend workshops and masterclasses, and premiere the winning composition of our Annual Composition Competition. This challenge resulted in the inspiration for a collaborative project that guitarists from around the country could participate in from their homes.

Rather than a concert or performance video, this project was a portrait of us now, a way for us to be together and share beauty during this challenging time. Participants were asked to record parts of the winning composition, Solace by Brandon Carcamo, and capture videos of their surroundings to give us a glimpse of what brought them hope.

The result was The Solace Project, a beautiful multimedia work created by and for our community. It was a chance to acknowledge the moment we’re in collectively, to make something we’ll be able to return to years from now, to share music together even at a distance.

“It was a reminder that we can make music; we have all these barriers, but we’re still going to come together. There was a delay in experiencing this new piece that we would’ve premiered together on stage with 100 other people, but we still made it.” – Lennox Kolics, ACG Intern & ACGYO member


Days before our Youth Orchestra was about to embark on its New Mexico Tour in March, the pandemic hit in full force, and the trip was cancelled. As the group started to meet online to figure out its plan for the spring, an idea materialized: they could create a new ACGYO interpretation of a well-known piece by recording all the parts separately.

“It wasn’t the same as playing together in person, but it was still something we were working towards, and it was really great to sit on zoom and say ‘I have this idea for this variation.’ To see that come to fruition was really wonderful – without trying to replace something that couldn’t be replaced.” – Lennox Kolics

Lennox and Iris Renteria, another ACGYO member, engineered all 15 parts of the music that members had sent in and remixed them to create the ACGYO version of Malagueña. Zara Terrazas-Graham, a third member of the orchestra, made a time-lapse video of the creation of a painting and filmed footage from her community: people walking, laughing, dancing in the street.

“I explained to my closest friends, family, and neighbors that we’d all collaborated on this piece, and I asked them to dance and express how they felt when they listened to the song, and I got some really beautiful results. For the art piece, I wanted something really warm, happy, and light, and since the season theme was togetherness, I wanted to incorporate that too.” – Zara

“It was all led by the members, there’s so much incredible skill in these young people. They really ran with it.” – ACGYO Director, Joseph Williams

Hopeful Things: Teachers

In July, we had the privilege of sharing ideas and tools with guitar educators from around the world for our Annual (and first-ever online!) Teacher Summit.

Despite the uncertainty of this fall, we were so inspired by the teachers’ energy, hopefulness, and creativity.

Our Director of Education, Travis Marcum, created a multimedia collaborative project for all 120 educators to participate in. “Everything Changes at Once” was originally written for students this spring, which you can view here, but this version for educators allows us to hear from the other side of the classroom.

In the project, teachers had the opportunity to record short guitar phrases that were later woven into a complete musical piece. They also could take pictures or record ‘found sounds’ of their home environments, and answer questions such as ‘What would you like to say to your students? What are you afraid of? What are you hopeful for?’

The product is a piece of music unique to now, and is a message from our teaching community to each other, to their students, and to all of you.

Travis Marcum

We hope you enjoy this beautiful work from our educators around the globe.