A Conversation with Siri Hutcheson

Music, and guitar in particular, cultivates an aesthetic sense in a young person that I believe makes for a better world.

- Siri Hutcheson

Siri Hutcheson and Camille Cook have been generous supporters of our work in both concerts and education at Austin Classical Guitar, and they give to other important causes in our community as well. 

They are sponsors of our concert featuring Xuefei Yang this Saturday, April 26th, and so I asked Siri a few questions about her relationship to music and the guitar.  She’s quite a talented musician herself!

Matthew Hinsley: Siri, you and Camille have been generous supporters of our work here at Austin Classical Guitar.  What do you like about the work we do? 

Siri Hutcheson: First, I love the house concerts. It's so wonderful to hear mini concerts and to meet other guitar enthusiasts in interesting settings. Second, the work you do with children & teens heartens me for the future of creativity. Music, and guitar in particular, cultivates an aesthetic sense in a young person that I believe makes for a better world. I like that Austin Classical Guitar reaches out to those of diverse backgrounds. Third, I think the leadership is fantastic!

MH: You are an accomplished guitarist, if I may say so.  What is it about guitar, about classical guitar, that you find gratifying?

SH: I find the expression, intellectual stimulation, self-discipline, musical accomplishment and personal growth very gratifying. What's not to love…making music with a beautiful instrument!

MH: You and Camille give to other great causes here in Austin.  Is there another cause you wish everyone knew about?

SH: Camille and I believe strongly in human rights. We give to Human Rights Campaign. GLBT individuals have been regarded as second-class citizens for too long. The pursuit of happiness is part of the American dream. We also love dogs and cats. We give to Austin Pets Alive in Austin and WAG in nearby Wimberley.

MH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

SH: I want to recommend that everyone learn to play guitar or a musical instrument of his or her choice. Put a little time in on a regular basis and as a result you will create a pastime that will serve as your friend for life.

Here is Siri (left) with Camille on horses near Aspen, Colorado.

And this great photo is just before one of our FlamencoAustin shows at the Long Center!


Thank You Matthew Williams

I wouldn't be where I am today if not for music…It's a shame that arts education is not as integral in all Americans’ upbringing as math, science, and English.  I believe that music beautifully pulls all areas of learning and thought process together in a way that nothing else can.  The benefits to brain development and the cultural learning you get from music are just a few of many benefits of being involved in music. 

 - Matthew Williams, Founder & Owner, Williams Wealth Strategies

Our dinner before Xuefei Yang’s concert is sponsored by Matthew Williams, owner and founder of Williams Wealth Strategies

I first met Matt in 1996 when we were both studying music!

If you’d like to join us for our dinner and concert, information is online here or you can always call us at 512-300-2247.

Our dinner will be in the private gallery of Chez Zee, includes appetizers, wine, delicious Chez Zee entrees and signature desserts including Sharon Watkin’s “Sticky Toffee Pudding” (which she promised us at the last dinner!). 

It’s been great to reconnect with Matt.  We shared many musical experiences years ago, and it’s wonderful to still be in touch years later.  I’m super grateful that he is sponsoring our dinner on the 26th, and I asked him a few questions about his path in the years since we were both in school at UT.

Matthew Hinsley: We've known each other for a long time, Matt.  We met as guitar players at UT in the 90's, I went on to become Executive Director of ACG, and you went on to found Williams Wealth Strategies - I'd love to know a bit about your path?

Matthew Williams: After music school I decided to go back to my roots playing in a band and started performing in Austin clubs with my original project Apostrophe!  It was a guitar-led instrumental group with typically guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard instrumentation with horn players at times.  It featured original "charts" that I wrote and included a lot of improvisation and soloing of the core members and often auxiliary players on horn.   We played all over Austin and were featured on KUT twice including LiveSet and Eklektikos with John Aielli.   I was doing all of the writing, hiring, firing, marketing, branding, logo and flyer design.  It was not only an artistic endeavor, but also a business, sales, and entrepreneurial one as well.

At the same time I was helping nonprofit performing arts organizations such as One World Theatre, UTPAC, Paramount and State Theatre, KMFA, and others raise money.  After being top seller and campaign manager for some of these nonprofit campaigns - helping them raise hundreds of thousands of dollars - I was recruited into the financial services industry by New York Life and shortly thereafter founded my practice.  I won several agency and industry awards including Rookie of the Year, MDRT membership, and we’ve been growing ever since!

More importantly, I got married, and I now have two beautiful children, a 5-year-old daughter Amelia and my 18-month-old son Quinn.  I’ve been so busy growing up in my industry and supporting and raising a family, I haven’t had a chance to look back!

MH: There are many worthy causes to give to in Austin, what do you like about Austin Classical Guitar?

MW: I wouldn't be where I am today if not for music.  Even though I live and work in the financial world now, it's as much an art as it is a science.  The tenacity and dedication that I learned studying music at a high level, has transferred to what I do today.   I have marketed myself in a way that (hopefully) communicates that my artistic background provides a unique prospective to my interpretation of financial products and planning strategy.  In fact, we sometimes call what we do for clients “the orchestration of their assets,” in other words, all of the pieces we put together are meant to play off one another and work in concert to compose a meaningful sum.

I think what ACG is doing is important and I think the more folks that study classical guitar, and music in general, the better.  While most won't end up as GFA winners and enjoy the fulfilling and challenging careers that few players achieve, they will all be better equipped to add value to their community in whatever capacity they find themselves in.   It's a shame that arts education is not as integral in all Americans’ upbringing as math, science, and English.  I believe that music beautifully pulls all areas of learning and thought process together in a way that nothing else can.  The benefits to brain development and the cultural learning you get from music are just a few of many benefits of being involved in music.  I needed all the help I could get! 

MH: Tell me about Williams Wealth Strategies?

MW: We are a full service financial planning firm.  We offer advice to business owners, high net worth individuals, and professionals to help them meet their financial, investment, and estate planning goals.  Once we have analyzed a client’s situation and walked them through our process, we can help them implement our recommendations using a variety of financial products and strategies including but not limited to life and disability insurance, professionally managed investment advisory portfolios, as well as deferred and income annuities.  We pay close attention to the tax implications our clients have, and while coordinating with their CPA, and are able to recommend strategies and types of accounts that help minimize their income taxes as well as potential estate tax liabilities.   Regardless of the returns that might be great in some investment products, I have found that you can provide tremendous dollar value to clients by simply building more tax-efficiency into their strategy.    We also make sure that they have their legal documents in order as far as their wills, trusts, and business documents.   There are a lot of opportunities to improve contingency planning for privately held business owners, who’s net worth is often very over-concentrated in the value of their business.     With partnerships, partners’ spouses, and key employees all having a potential impact on the success or failure of a private enterprise, there is a lot of business planning that most owners just haven’t done.   Our expertise is a great match for these folks.  In an ideal situation with our ideal client, we serve a “quarterback” or “personal CFO” role helping them delegate the complexity of tasks that need to be accomplished to enhance and enact their planning goals.

Successful people didn’t get where they are by mistake, and many of them have learned the value (often the hard way) of delegating away things that do not fall within their core competency, so that they can focus on their family and the success of their company.   We have a team of credentialed financial professionals in Dallas, TX called The Nautilus Group that consists of over 30 attorneys and CPAs that help us with these complex cases.  It’s a group that is integral to my scope of service and is an offering above and beyond what I have seen that many of my colleagues have at their disposal.

MH: Are you still able to play some music?

MW: While I haven’t been playing as much guitar as I once did, in recent years I have been playing a lot of piano.  Piano was my first instrument starting around age 6 and it’s been nice to slowly learn and play some repertoire that I’m sure any piano teacher I studied with would discourage (because it’s probably too difficult for my chops)!  I have really enjoyed learning again, slowly, some Bach and Beethoven piano rep, and also improvising and playing more mainstream styles of music.


Tomatito: Electrifying music and dance

Patricia Wood Dickerson is a patron and volunteer with Austin Classical Guitar. She contributed the following account of a magical evening at the Paramount Theatre in Austin on March 5th. Click the links for photographs taken that evening by Arlen Nydam.

The grand Paramount Theatre offered delectations for all senses that night, beginning with an array of tapas presented by Chef Fer Candil of Paella, Tapas and More. The warm gold light of the hall subsided, and the stage became illumined by the Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra. Composer Joseph Williams II conducted the ensemble in an elegant, professional debut of the Hinsleyian Overture, his homage to Matt Hinsley’s “powerful will and determination to create." The overture was introduced by Kendal Gladish, President of the ACG Board of Directors, which had commissioned the work.

The pulse of the theater then quickened to the flying fingers of Tomatito and to the flying feet of Paloma Fantova. Guitarists José del Tomate and El Cristi, joined by percussionist Moises Santiago, heightened the flight. Time, too, flew to the rhythms of rondeña, tango, rumba, solea, buleria and the voices of Kiki Cortiñas and Simón Román. The performance was dedicated to flamenco guitar maestro Paco de Lucίa, who had passed away just ten days before Tomatito’s appearance here. Tomatito stated that “A giant has gone…”  This electrifying night of music and dance was a tribute worthy of a giant.

Arlen Nydam’s photographs convey the quality of light and motion of a fine performance, while the sounds of strings, heels, staccato handclaps and voices echo down the colonnaded corridors of the memory.

Patricia Wood Dickerson, April 2014


Grisha and Jerome: Program


(from Matt)

I can’t tell you how excited I am about the return of these two magnificent talents to Austin.  Last time they were here, it was to open our FlamencoAustin series at the Long Center and the show was primarily Grisha playing a flamenco concert, with Jerome joining him for some extraordinary encores. 

So extraordinary, in fact, that I knew we had to get them back to Austin for a fully collaborative concert of classical and flamenco guitar!


First – the schedule:

Thursday, March 27th, 11am – we’re live on KUTX, 98.5FM.  Tune in!

Friday, March 28th, 4-7pm – masterclass in UT School of Music (MRH5.138) – free!

Saturday, March 29th:

5:30pm – dinner at Chez Zee with me and friends!

7:45pm – Akins High School pre-show at GT Austin

8pm – concert begins!

Dinner and Concert Tickets are Online Here – or call 512-300-2247.


So the natural question is… what are they going to play?  What does a classical and flamenco guitar concert look like? 

Here’s your answer (links are to videos, to give you a taste of what you’ll hear!):


La Vida Breve                                                                                         Manuel de Falla

Danza Ritual del Fuego                                                                        Manuel de Falla

(Grisha Goryachev & Jerome Mouffe, guitars)


Reverie (Nocturne)                                                                                    Giulio Regondi

Asturias (Leyenda)                                                                                    Isaac Albeniz

Castilla (Seguidillas)

(Jerome Mouffe, guitar)


Evocacion                                                                                                Isaac Albeniz

(Grisha Goryachev & Jerome Mouffe, guitars)




La Flor de la Canela                                                           Chabuca Granda/Paco de Lucia

A Pesar de Todo                                                                                    Popular/Paco de Lucia

(Grisha Goryachev & Jerome Mouffe, guitars)


Los Caireles (Zapateado)                                                                        Manolo Sanlúcar

Aires Choqueros (Fandango)                                                                      Paco de Lucía

Almoraima (Bulerías)                                                                                    Paco de Lucía

(Grisha Goryachev, guitar)


El Vito                                                                                                 Popular/Paco de Lucia

Guajiras                                                                                                             Paco de Lucia

(Grisha Goryachev & Jerome Mouffe, guitars)


Matthew Hinsley Day


Thank you.

That’s what was going through my head all day on Thursday, February 13th!  In fact, “thank you” is what has been in my head much of this season at Austin Classical Guitar.  Well, when I think about it, “thank you” has been on my mind much of the last ten years at ACG as Executive Director! 

I am overwhelmed by the kindness of my board and staff, and by the appreciation I have felt, heard and read from our supporters, teachers and students all year long.  Most of all I am grateful for the opportunities our team here at ACG has had, and still has, to make change and meaning through music in our community.

Thursday, February 13th was particularly special because Austin’s Mayor, Lee Leffingwell, read a proclamation naming the day “Matthew Hinsley Day” as part of a Distinguished Service Award from the City of Austin on my tenth anniversary as Executive Director of ACG.

My wife, Glenda, was in the City Chambers, as was our Board Chair Kendal Gladish, our Nominating Committee Chair Carl Caricari and his wife Margaret Murray Miller, our immediate past Marketing Chair Molly Browning, ACG’s Director of Development April Long, and my dear friends Mike and Linda Light.

It was particularly special for me to join Mayor Leffingwell on this occasion, because the last time we were together was June 2010 on the Long Center stage when he gave a personal welcome to a sold-out crowd there to see the LA Guitar Quartet, Pepe Romero and the Austin Symphony on Saturday night of our Guitar Foundation of America international festival week “Austin Goes Classical”.  He and I reminisced a bit about the festival before he read the proclamation.

In a wild coincidence, UT’s Cactus Cafe was also the subject of a proclamation that same evening.  As soon as I entered the chambers I saw the core cactus team of Matt, Chris and Susan.  The City was recognizing 35 years of The Cactus Cafe!  Of course, not only do we have a regular series at the Cactus Cafe – but we actually had a show scheduled for that very evening, and I was performing along with dear friend, and ACG Insights instructor, Dr. Tom Echols! 

So following the City proclamation, we went over to the University and prepared for Classical Cactus.  It was a full house and Tom and I had a fantastic time.  Here are a few wonderful photos from ACG’s marvelous photographer Arlen Nydam.


The service provided by Austin Classical Guitar is made possible by the work of so many dedicated people.  We are truly a reflection of the values of our unique and creative community.


I am so touched by this wonderful gesture of appreciation, and I gratefully accept on behalf of our board, staff, volunteers and supporters who make Austin Classical Guitar everything that it is.


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