What a year it’s been! Back in the spring we finished our 30th season having produced nearly forty broadcast-quality streaming shows with zero in-person events. Over the summer we moved into our new home at the Baker Center in Hyde Park, developed our plans to build our new venue, The Rosette, and launched a new season that included a return to in-person classes and rehearsals, and in-person concerts with streaming options.

2021 has been topsy turvy indeed, but so many beautiful things happened along the way. We had a blast putting together this Top Ten list, we are profoundly grateful that we’ve been able to continue to make music through all the challenges, and we are very excited for the future. Enjoy!

#10 ACG Production Team: David Russell + Students in 360

Our production team gets a huge round of applause! After designing super-advanced remote streaming solutions last season, ACG Production, led by director Jess Griggs, transitioned back to in-person concerts, leveled up in every way, maintained streaming options, and supported ambitious multi-media projects like this 360-degree video featuring David Russell and 28 students. Fun fact: this video was filmed on march 5th, 2020, a week before Austin went into lockdown, in the room that would later become our new venue, The Rosette! We didn’t even know it at the time.

We have so many people to thank, but we’d like to be sure and mention our Director of Events Jen Bamberg, recently departed Director of Curriculum Eric Pearson (we miss you Eric!), audio genius and supremely generous soul Todd Waldron, Josh Stern and Chris Zeid of Reality Based Group, and Kevin Chin of Northshore Media. 

#9 Music & Healing: I Can Do This, by Dolly with ACG’s Shayna Sands

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.

Our Music & Healing Program is directed by Travis Marcum, and capacity has grown recently thanks in part to the addition of our new program facilitator, and ACG alum, Claire Puckett. The heartfelt and beautiful song featured above was just completed and performed earlier this month by ACG Music & Healing artist Shayna Sands. It’s just one example of many beautiful songs written in 2021 through this special program. 

#8 Javier Niño Scholarship: Juan Itzep & Edan Tapia

We couldn’t be more proud of our newest Javier Niño Scholarship winners Juan Itzep of McCallum High School and Edan Tapia of Akins High School. Both students received concert instruments from generous ACG donor Carson McCowen, have weekly individual lessons with some of Austin’s best teachers, and will participate in a range of special performance opportunities throughout the year. For example, Juan and Edan performed to open our packed concerts with Ana Vidovic in November. Learn more about Juan Itzep, and our scholarship’s namesake, Javier Niño, in this recent feature article.

#7 ACG Alumni

Austin Classical Guitar Inspires Hope & Artistic Vision, Tribeza

Many of our deepest relationships over the years have come about as a result of our free lessons initiative. Since 2001 ACG has provided free individual lessons for certain students in our community, and often the relationships have lasted for years both in school and beyond. Particularly heart-warming is the trend in recent years of students coming back after college to serve as teachers in AISD, or even to work on the ACG team. Saul Hernandez, Javier Saucedo, and Susana Diaz-Lopez are all ACG graduates now working as full time teachers for AISD, and this gorgeous article in the November issue of tribeza magazine features three other ACG alumni who are now our our ACG team: Justice Phillips, Angelica Campbell, and Claire Puckett. Enjoy!

#6 Over 90 Commissions!

Heading into the pandemic lockdown we established a few top priorities at ACG. First and foremost we wanted to continue to be a place of beauty and kindness for our community. Second, we wanted to continue to make great art, and support our many partner teachers and students to support great education. Third, we wanted to pay more artists than ever before to perform, teach, and create personal, meaningful, inspiring art. Supporting all of these goals was a new level of commissioning, led by ACG Artistic Director Joe Williams. In the 20-21 season, Joe would commission an astonishing ninety new works including, music, dance, and multimedia. The piece featured above was written by Justice Phillips for the guitar and dance programs at Lively Middle School, where Justice himself had attended middle school and first discovered guitar. The piece was developed in partnership with Lively’s guitar director Meredith McAlmon, and dance director Claire Barclay. ACG’s production team  filmed the performance at AISD Performing Arts Center. 

Here are some other 2021 commissions you might enjoy: Adelante by Alan Retamozo performed by Austin Classical Guitar Chamber Ensemble directed by Tony Mariano; Hello, I just wanted to see how you are doing by Cassie Shankman, performed by Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra directed by Joe Williams; and Winter to Spring by Justice Phillips performed by Austin Classical Guitar Youth Camerata directed by Stephen Krishnan. You can find more on our YouTube page!

#5 HOPE 

This show was sooo good. Sixteen amazing artists from thirteen countries, including four marvelous students from around the US, sent us music and messages of hope. We think this show stacks up against anything you’ll find on Netflix – or anywhere else for that matter! Dim the lights, crank the volume, make some popcorn, and enjoy!

#4 ACG Education: Clarice Assad Residency

Clarice Assad is so cool. She was already super cool, but then last month she got three new Grammy nominations for her newest album with her dad Sergio, and Third Coast Percussion. ACG Artistic Director Joe Williams had the vision last year to ask Clarice to be our 21-22 Artist in Residence, and we were thrilled when she said yes.

This year she’s doing so much, but the simplest version involves three big things: 1) She’s working with over fifty-five students to write an amazing piece together, and working with a bunch of our other students as well. 2) She’ll premiere that new piece, with those students, and her dad, in our January 29 concert OPEN. 3) She’s also writing a new piece for the Miró Quartet and Jorge Caballero to premiere at our Season Finale in May.

The video above is a sneak peek into the magic she’s been making with students this fall. Huge thanks to Kevin Chin and Northshore Media, ACG Production, ACG Education, and atsec information securities for their generous sponsorship fo Clarice Assad’s 21-22 Residency at ACG. 

#3 In-Person Concerts!

It felt SO AMAZING to be back in person this fall. Seeing our volunteers again, seeing friends new and old walking up the stairs at the new KMFA building, feeling the pre-show excitement, and hearing the applause, made our hearts pound and our spirits rise. The video above is of An Tran’s gorgeous performance on Halloween weekend. If you saw it already, we know you’ll enjoy it again, and if you haven’t seen it yet, then you’re in for a real treat!

#2 Jeremy Osborne: The One and Only

Jeremy: you’ve changed all our lives, lifted thousands in schools near and far for years, and we are forever grateful. 

Jeremy Osborne joined ACG Education in 2008. In 2014 he took over our Juvenile Justice System programs and made magic in one of the most complicated environments any of us can imagine. The time has come for him to go on to the next adventure. We’ll miss him so much, but we’re thrilled for all that awaits. 

ACG’s services in Juvenile Justice expanded in the past year to include Pheonix House and Dallas County. We are increasingly part of the national conversation about arts and juvenile justice, and Jeremy and ACG Education Director Travis Marcum recently wrote this article about ACG Juvenile Justice services for Arts Education Partnership. We’re thrilled to welcome our new Director of Juvenile Justice Service, Hector Aguilar, in January!

#1 The Rosette

It doesn’t get any bigger than this!

We were overjoyed to begin our 31st year in our new Hyde Park home in the Baker Center at 39th Street and Avenue B. In partnership with our friends Karrie & Tim League, founders of The Alamo Drafthouse, construction has begun on a 100-seat listening room and broadcast studio we’ll call The Rosette, alongside multiple indoor and outdoor concert, reception, and creative learning spaces.

Home.

Our highest goal for our new home, is that it will be your home too. Whether you’re an audience member in-person or online, a player in a class or ensemble, a volunteer, a graduate of our school programs, a scholar researching in our library, a teacher being trained, or a student making an audition video, our hope is that you will experience kindness and welcoming each time you visit.

The Rosette will include state-of-the-art lighting and sound, and have broadcast-quality audio and video recording and streaming capability. We are planning concerts, classes, rehearsals, collaborations, and gatherings of all kinds!  

Why is it called The Rosette? As you might know, a rosette is the ornate mosaic design surrounding the sound hole of every guitar. Each guitar maker has a unique rosette, it’s like a signature. Believe it or not, one of many very special features of our new home is a sixty-inch custom rosette inset into the center of the hardwood floor in our lounge!

We are deeply grateful for the partnership and support of Karrie & Tim League and the Alamo Drafthouse for making our new home possible. We are deeply grateful for our matching donors: Dr. Lynne Boggs & Bill Cariker, Dan Bullock & Annette Carlozzi, Mercedes-Benz of Austin, The Raley Family, Rick & Valeri Reeder, The Ben & Nancy Sander Family, and an Anonymous Donor. We are grateful to all our supporters who have believed in us for the past three decades, and who believe in the power of music to do good in the world. 

We can’t wait to welcome you into our new home when it opens in the New Year.