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!