Melis, Avers, Albert and more

3/5/2010 Friday 3:27 pm

Here is a shot from dinner last night with Randy Avers (left) then Alexis Muzurakis of Duo Melis, Susana Prieto of Duo Melis, Glenda (my wife!), and Benoit Albert (wearing a “to-go” container on his head).  We have just finished an absolutely delicious Indian meal at Clay Pit here in Austin.  Before this both duos (Melis and Avers/Albert) were with us at the KMFA studios where Tony Morris of the international classical guitar radio show Classical Guitar Alive interviewed both (separately)!

While I was waiting for Duo Melis to finish their interview I got an email from Andy York – phenomenal guitarist and composer – who is just finishing a recording project with Andy Summers (formerly with The Police).  It was great getting an update from Andy (York, that is) who we had seen, only briefly, last summer in upstate New York.

At this moment Avers/Albert are finishing their 10th of 10 outreach concerts for ACGS.  In 15 minutes Duo Melis will be taken to their masterclass site, where I will be waiting to introduce them.  They will teach from 4-7.  Then its off for, by special request from the Greek and French members of our little band, to have Texas steaks for all (except me, the lone vegetarian!).

This morning began with a TV interview on Fox 7 morning news with Joe Bickett.  Alexis and Susana played beautifully!

So between the two duos, TV and radio galore, and all the usual business, its been an absolutely packed week – packed with wonder, music, international artistry and loads of community engagement.  I’m very much looking forward to the Melis class in a few minutes and their concert tomorrow – by which time Avers and Albert will be on to another engagement in Houston beore traveling to Chatanooga and then back to Europe.  OK, off to the master class.

Avers and Albert in Austin

3/1/2010 Monday 9:51 pm

One of my dearest friends arrived in Austin last night from Norway – Randy Avers.  He came with his good friend Benoit Albert, from southern France.  We’ve hired them to play ten concert for kids in our school programs this week as part of the ACGS Community Concert Series.  Apparently they did their first show this morning.  I was not able to be there (see my post below about KMFA!) but I hear it was fabulous!

Randy and I met at Oberlin.  He transferred in our sophomore year and he was, at that time, the greatest guitarist I had ever met.  He was an amazing young player (still is, of course) and I think it was one of the best parts of my education – simply being able to be around him during those formative years.  We graduated in 1996 – actually became the first guitar graduates ever from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music – and when I came to Texas he went to Paris Conservatory in France.  There he met his lovely Norwegian wife Line (Lee-nuh), and they ultimately settled in Norway where they have two lovely young children!

It was a blast seeing he and Benoit last night.  They met in Amsterdam, flew to Houston, drove to Austin and called me at 8PM last night from a pay phone near a nearby grocery store!  I went and guided them home, we had a marvelous meal that Glenda had prepared (with a little help from me) and then we shuttled them, not too terribly late, to their host’s home for a short rest before their Austin debut at Lamar Middle School this morning!  It is amazing to reconnect with friends.

KMFA, and playing the guitar this spring!

3/1/2010 Monday 9:37 pm

This morning began with a cup of coffee, some warm clothing, and an early practice session.  At 9am I was due on the radio for a one-hour taped performance and interview with KMFA’s Dianne Donovan.  The show will air this Wednesday, March 3rd, at 8PM CST, so if you’re in the listening area (central TX) then set your dial to 89.5FM, and if you’re someplace else, you can stream it at!

It was great seeing Dianne.  She is a marvelous host, an exuberant and informative radio personality with a surprisingly wide range of knowledge and a depth of enthusiasm for arts in Austin that is truly rare.  We are lucky to have her in Austin.

We had a wonderful chat about things that I love talking about: arts, education, ACGS, our festival, etc. and I even got my fingers moving to play a sonata by Domenico Scarlatti, the famous Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tarrega, and Sunburst by Andrew York.

In theory, I was going to put up the guitar – as far as public performing goes – from my last concert in January (January 30th) until after the festival.  But it seems that this is just not in the cards!  I had forgotten that I agreed to talk and perform at the downtown Austin Rotary Club meeting tomorrow at noon (March 2nd) for starters!  And, late last week I was just going over this week’s schedule when Dianne asked if I’d come in and play live for her show.  So, I figured I may as well do it if I was going to be playing anyway for Rotary.

Similarly, I got a call from a fellow on Friday asking if I would play a 45 minute concert for a private party he and his wife are hosting in May (May 2nd).  I explained about the festival – which he already knew about – and told him I was trying not to play too much this spring and asked about postponing until the fall.  He explained that he and his wife had seen me several times, are fans, and they were really hoping to have me for this, their first, in-home concert.  His explanation and his kind words began melting my hardened heart and I told him I’d call him back once I consulted with my wife!  Not 5 minutes later, on Friday, I got an email from Tim League (co-owner with his wife Karrie of the amazing Alamo Drafthouse here in Austin) asking if I’d play around the same time for him – beginning of May!  He had  won me for a concert at our fundraiser auction a few weeks back.  What a riot!  The stars appear to be aligning indeed to keep me playing the guitar this spring.  So, needless to say, I called the first fellow back today and told him I’d be honored to play for his function, and confirmed with Tim as well.

I have to say, I’m really glad that I’ll be continuing to actively play this spring.  To hang up that part of my life for my administrative duties, even for a finite period of time, seemed better in theory than it felt in reality.