Top 10 Moments of 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, we find ourselves thinking back to some of the unforgettable experiences we’ve had over these past 12 months at Austin Classical Guitar. There were so many, but ’tis the season for Top 10 lists – so we took a shot at narrowing them down to our favorites. We hope you enjoy reminiscing with us.

Have we left anything out? Let us know your most memorable ACG moments of 2016!

#10 – Guitars Under The Stars Gala

We loved this year’s gala for a bunch of reasons: Our staff and volunteers were shining, the setting was beautiful, our student speakers and performers were inspiring, and we got to share this magical evening with our amazing and supportive community. It was a night that showed ACG at our very best.


#9 – State Department Delegation Visits ACG


We were surprised and thrilled in September when the US State Department asked us to meet and share our work with a delegation from Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Bahrain. It was our first experience with simul-translation! The visitors were artists and civil servants interested in our approach to community service and cultural exchange through the arts. They were especially interested in GuitarCurriculum.com, our online curriculum that forms the basis for all our educational work. So far, we’ve had follow up conversations about assisting with a new guitar program in Lebanon – we’ll see where it all leads!


#8 – ACG Youth Orchestra performs Fugata y Danza

We love this performance, not only because ACGYO is in peak form and director Joseph V. Williams II brings so much refinement and elegance to their work; we also love the music they’re playing! Fugata y Danza by Carlos Rios was the winning entry in our 2016 Composition Competition. You may not have known this, but for more than 10 years ACG has encouraged Texas-based composers to write music for guitar ensembles through this statewide contest. What a great piece Carlos Rios gave us this time around.


#7 – Narratives Summer Series

Thomas Echols blew our minds this summer as our first-ever Guest Artistic Director, bringing to life his unique vision for a literature-inspired series of three concerts called Narratives. It was a magical ride, and one of the most daring and deep excursions we’ve ever taken at ACG. The centerpiece of the first concert was the premiere of “Persona,” a song-cycle written by our Composer in Residence Joseph V. Williams II. Here’s the fifth movement.


#6 – Teacher Training Sessions in St. Louis & Austin

We had two marvelous teacher training sessions this summer. The first was in St. Louis where our affiliates have established over a dozen high quality classroom guitar programs, including the one we visited at Adams Elementary School (pictured above). The second was here in Austin, where we were joined by music teachers from all over the US and beyond. Here’s a video featuring them in a finale performance.


#5 – Video project about Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

We’re so grateful to Woody Harrison and his team at UPG Video for creating this remarkable piece about the guitar program at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. We have big dreams for this program, and some are already coming true!


#4 – Pepe Romero plays Vivaldi with 80 Students

During his October visit, Maestro Pepe Romero graciously agreed to rehearse and perform Vivaldi’s beloved Concerto in D Major with 80 kids from six local middle and high schools. The kids were so excited, so prepared, and had an experience they – and we – will never forget.


#3 – Sing Me a Lullaby, An ACG Documentary by KLRU’s Arts in Context

Watch now: Arts in Context | Sing Me A Lullaby | KLRU-TV, Austin PBS Video

We are so grateful to director Mario Troncoso and his whole award-winning team at KLRU for shining their bright lights on ACG and creating this lovely 27-minute documentary about our education and social services. The cameras follow us to St. Louis and New York City, with The Lullaby Project as the narrative through-line.


#2 – Trimonisha’s Lullaby

We’re incredibly thankful to Dr. Ted Held of People’s Community Clinic for helping us bring the Lullaby Project to PCC and Travis County Jail this year. This beautiful lullaby was written over the summer by Joey Delahoussaye and Trimonisha, and is one of the most touching songs we’ve ever heard.


#1 – The Paper Guitar

Now in its sixth year, our guitar program at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Center provides the only for-credit fine arts course available to the young people incarcerated there. These daily classes, taught by Jeremy Osborne from our education team, have had a profound impact on the lives of the participants – so much so that Travis County has just asked us for a major expansion of the program. But that’s another story.

Last year, we met a young man who, like many of his fellow residents, was struggling to keep up with his academic work and his rehabilitation plan. Then he joined the guitar class and something clicked. He had found his passion.

Our schedule at Gardner Betts slows over the summer. When daily classes resumed this fall, this young student presented Jeremy with a full size replica of a classical guitar – made entirely out of rolled strips of copy paper and tape, with yarn for strings. The level of care and craftsmanship he had invested in this work of art was astonishing (click on the image to enlarge).

For us, the paper guitar is a remarkable example of how perseverance, passion, and the power of art and mentorship can bring light to dark places. It represents everything our mission at Austin Classical Guitar is about, and motivates us to work harder than ever in the coming year to inspire our community with musical experiences of deep personal significance.

Thank you so much for supporting us in this effort. We couldn’t do it without you.

Happy New Year!

 

A Tribute from Matt

Lona Burwell first approached us at Austin Classical Guitar 17 years ago. My very first impressions of Lona were of her strength, clarity, and persistence: Lona had a big idea, and she was keen for us to hear it!

Her big idea? Adults making music together. She explained – persistently – that while kids have lots of opportunities to play music together, music stops being a participatory experience for most adults.

Lona did not think this was right, and wanted to change it.

So in 1999, led by Lona, we launched our Community Guitar Ensembles program. Lona directed the program as a volunteer until 2005. And here we are, 17 years later, with a thriving adult ensemble program that still includes some of the original members!

Lona Burwell passed away at her home in Bastrop this past summer. As I sat with her friends and family at her funeral I found myself thinking back to memories of our years together.

And I realized something that surprised me.

Lona changed me, and she changed Austin Classical Guitar. Over the years, ACG’s identity has emerged as an agent of community service through music. Education, Outreach, Community Ensembles, Lullabies: all of these services are driven by the belief our community has in the power of music to make life richer and more fulfilling – for everyone.

Sitting at her memorial service this past summer, I realized that Lona, in her tireless way, helped shape and encourage that belief in me. The reason persistence was one of the qualities that struck me most about Lona was that she needed it! She needed it to get through to me, and others I’m sure, that guitar was a more powerful agent for community service than we had realized.

Thank you, Lona. Thank you for helping to show us a better way. This coming Sunday at 5pm at St. Luke’s on the Lake (5600 RR 620 N; map link) our Community Guitar Ensembles will perform their fall recital. We are dedicating the performance to Lona Burwell. I hope you will join us to celebrate her legacy and her passion for community-based music-making.

lona_burwell_rick_perry

Holiday Magic

Some photos from of our “Holiday Magic” Salon Concert at the lovely and festive home of Edwina Carrington, which featured our Performance Engagement Artist Joseph Palmer, along with homemade egg nog, great friends, and lots of good cheer.


The team at Gusto Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar provided an array of delectable – and beautifully arranged – culinary delights.
 


The talented Garet Gomez from Akins High School takes a bow after opening the concert.
 


Joseph Palmer deepened the audience’s listening experience by introducing key elements of the pieces he was about to play.
 


To close the concert, Matt Hinsley joined Joseph to lead guests in singing a couple of holiday classics.
 


At the end of the night, ACG’s crack team of staff and volunteers swooped in to restore Edwina’s home to its pre-concert condition. Careful…that rug looks heavy!

A Thanksgiving Message from Matt Hinsley

Something magical happens when we come together to celebrate beauty.

I felt it last night at our Youth Orchestra concert. I felt it on Friday at our “Staff Cactus” show at the Cactus Cafe, where the room was crackling with the warmth of appreciation and friendship in spite of the chilly air outside.

On one unforgettable evening last month, 80 students from Austin came together to play Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Major with Pepe Romero.

A video from that special event is online here.

Watching the concentration and anticipation in each performer’s face, and hearing the extraordinary music they are creating, I am transported. And I feel so incredibly grateful.

On behalf of all of us at Austin Classical Guitar, I would like to say how grateful we are to you for sharing these special moments of togetherness with us throughout the year.

Your belief in music, your belief in us, your belief in the beauty of artistic expression, make it all possible.

Happy Thanksgiving,

mattsignaturefirst

 

 

Matt Hinsley

Central Concert Series

austin-guitar-ensembleHoliday Classical Guitar

Austin Classical Guitar and Austin Public Library invite you to attend the Central Concerts Series bringing musicians and the community together for free live performances at the Faulk Central Library 800 Guadalupe St.

Sunday, December 4, 2016
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Enjoy the holiday classical guitars of the Austin Classical Guitar Ensemble featuring adult players of all levels and led by ACG Director of Community Ensembles, Eric Pearson.

Sunday, December 11, 2016
2:00 PM
to 3:00 PM

Enjoy a holiday classical guitar performance by Steve Kostelnik.

Praised by Soundboard magazine for his “lyrical playing” and “remarkable counterpoint,” Steve Kostelnik tours extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe. He has won top honors at several important competitions.

His highly acclaimed debut recording Steve Kostelnik: Guitar Recital was released on the Naxos label in 1999. Dr. Kostelnik maintains a thriving private studio in central Austin.

Sunday, December 18, 2016
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Enjoy the holiday classical guitar and voice duo of Kevin and Rachel McCormick.

“There are no production gimmicks or studio tricks here, just sensitive playing and beautiful singing that capture the warmth, mystery, hope, and joy of Advent and Christmas. Kevin and his daughter, Rachel, bring a quiet confidence and remarkable sense of intimacy that make this a truly enchanting collection of hymns and carols.” – Carl E. Olson, editor, Catholic World Report

Pepe Romero Returns

pepe-cropped

Austin Classical Guitar opens its 2016/17 International Series with the legendary classical guitarist Pepe Romero on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. at the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center, 1500 Barbara Jordan Blvd. Tickets here or at 512-300-2247

Arrive early! Matt Hinsley will speak about ACG services and vision for the new season from 7:00 – 7:30 in the Black Box Theater. Authentic Spanish tapas will be available after 6:30 in the lobby.

Maestro Romero’s all-Spanish program will include the following:

PROGRAM

By Francisco Tárrega

Marieta (mazurca)
Mazurca en sol                                                     
Maria (gavota)
Las dos hermanitas (vals)
Rosita (polca)

Capricho árabe                                                          

Fantasía sobre motivos de La Traviata, op.8                

Gran jota

INTERMISSION

Arroyos de la Alhambra by Ángel Barrios
Evocacion
Tonadilla

Selections from Suite Española, op.47 by Isaac Albéniz trans. by Pepe Romero
Leyenda
Granada
Sevilla

Suite Castellana by Federico M. Torroba
Fandanguillo
Arada
Danza

Fantasía Sevillana, op. 29 by Joaquín Turina

Selections from Suite Andaluza by Celedonio Romero
Zapateado
Fantasia

Program subject to change

MASTER CLASSES: During his Austin visit, maestro Romero will instruct students from guitar programs of several Austin-area schools on Wednesday, Oct. 12 and Thursday, Oct. 13 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center Dance Studio. On Friday, Oct. 14, he will conduct master classes with guitar students at the UT Butler School of Music Bates Recital Hall from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. All sessions are free and open to the public for observation only.

ON THE RADIO: Listen on Thursday morning Oct. 13 to hear Pepe Romero and Matt Hinsley on Eklektikos with John Aielli on KUTX 98.9 FM between 6:00 – 9:00 am. Then, at 10:00 am, tune to KMFA 89.5 FM with Dianne Donovan for more of Pepe and Matt.

The Paper Guitar

One of the things we’re most proud of here at ACG is our for-credit classical guitar program at the Travis County Juvenile Detention Center in partnership with Austin Independent School District. The program, now in its 6th year, has been featured on national television on the PBS NewsHour.

We hope you enjoy this story.

nailsguitars
L: Gardner Betts guitar instructor Jeremy Osborne assists student with his nails in preparation for his first class. R: Guitar students return to their school day carrying the guitars provided to them by the ACG guitar program.

It’s a full-size guitar. It has frets, strings, a sound hole, bracing. The frets are straight, thin, it has the correct number of them. There is a decorated rosette. It even has its own display stand.

But 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 is incarcerated at the Travis County Juvenile Justice Center where one of our staff educators, Jeremy Osborne, teaches two for-credit classes each day. David discovered the guitar, and discovered his ability to learn, practice, perform, and excel on it, in these classes. This past May he 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 has struggled with motivation, especially with the work he has to do for school and as part of the conditions of his sentence. Guitar changed all of that. Talk to any of his counselors and they’ll 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 summer, 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.

Paper Guitar

Volunteering with ACG

Volunteers pix.wide&short

I wish I could adequately express how much being part of ACG means to me. – Bill, Office Volunteer

 

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Austin Classical Guitar.

Over the years, our generous volunteers have helped with legal and accounting services, ushering at events, transportation and housing for visiting artists, running errands, answering phones, stuffing envelopes, ticket sales, welcoming guests at events, and hosting concerts in their homes.

Join the team!

In return for your time, you’ll get to meet some wonderful, like-minded people, and enjoy beautiful music at our concerts. Our younger volunteers can accrue community service credits for college or other applications. And all of our volunteers gain the satisfaction of being a vital part of an organization that is entering its second quarter century of service to our community.

Sign up to be a volunteer online here, or call us 512/300-2247.

 

Travis Marcum on Passionate Teaching

Travis Marcum.croppedDear Friends,

The ACG Education team is honored to be a part of one of the most accomplished, dynamic, community-focused music education programs in the world. We believe that thoughtful and passionate teaching leads to meaningful connections with our students, connections that break down barriers across our community. Because when a young person finds a little success, it opens the door for fascination and the guitar becomes a vehicle to express, inspire, validate, and grow.

We believe that thoughtful and passionate teaching leads to meaningful connections with our students, connections that break down barriers across our community.

ACG’s core education staff and associate teaching artists are among the most experienced and accomplished classroom guitar educators and professional guitarists in the nation. Together, we work with over 50 schools and 3,000 students in the central Texas area each day. We are writing cutting-edge classroom curriculum for school programs worldwide. We are helping to create guitar resources for students with blindness and visual impairments. We are sitting down with teen mothers and incarcerated mothers to help them write personal lullabies for their children. We are teaching young men in detention at Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center that they can do great things regardless of their past.

Your support and energy through the years have helped build this guitar family. I could not be more excited for the coming year, and for the continued privilege of working with such a vibrant, inspiring community.

Thank you for everything,

travis sig

Travis Marcum
Director of Education & Outreach

 

Matt Hinsley: ABOUT THE FUTURE

Matt at Gala.croppedDear Friends,

This season we step forward into our second quarter-century. Our vision lives and breathes within every individual touched by ACG, and today I’d like to share a few of my own hopes as we forge our path onward.

We have learned that music is a deep and powerful connector. It flows like water into the spaces between us, creating reasons to come together, invitations to express our individuality, activities of identity uniting students and mentors and communities. At ACG we have begun to revolutionize music education in America. We have had a rare and special opportunity to add classical guitar to school curricula for tens of thousands of students. And this is significant because guitar draws new and different kids to the widely documented benefits of serious, school-based, fine arts engagement. Along this path we have discovered many new ways to focus our service for youth and adults in myriad circumstances.

At ACG we have begun to revolutionize music education in America.

Our work is just beginning. We have many miles to go in our effort to support rigorous credit-based guitar education across Texas, our nation, and beyond. But that’s not all. I believe we are in a unique position to begin studying and promoting new ways of community engagement through the arts.

Children hear a song completely differently if they are asked in advance to think of a story while they listen. Why is that? I would like to know, and I believe connected to the answer to that question is nothing less than a brighter future for the arts, and for our communities.

My focus this year, therefore, will be to advance the Austin Classical Guitar Endowment so that we may support research and development in education, in social service, in healthcare, and in performance now and for generations to come.

With deepest thanks,

mattsignaturefirst