Catching Up

9/9/2010 Thursday 10:04 pm

My last entry was August 26th.

The following day I spent the bulk of the day with Bill Ash – President of the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society – who flew to Austin to pick my brain about running a big festival and guitar society development in general.  I should say that Bill does a tremendous job in St. Louis and has been for a long time – but after the festival here we got to know each other – and the fest was such a hit that he wanted to spend some time and get some ideas going.  We had breakfast at the new Taco Deli location on North Lamar near 45th, went next door for coffee at Houndstooth and had lunch at Chez Zee before he caught his plane back to St. Louis – all the while talking about nonprof orgs!  Coincidentally I got a call that afternoon about going out to the west coast next April to consult for a group of arts nonprofs… and so it begins!

Glenda’s birthday bash was the next night at the Highball.  The Highball is the newest brilliant business venture of our friends Tim and Karrie League (owners of the Alamo Drafthouse here in town).  12 of us crammed into one of 7 private karaoke rooms and at least one of made a total fool of himself singing to the oldies!  The Highball also has ski-ball, bowling, a ball room, and a gorgeous bar and dining area with delicious food, fabulous drinks and many beautiful people!

The next evening Glenda’s supper club had their monthly meeting.  I wasn’t there, but I believe it was their tenth anniversary of meeting together.  Linda, Sara, Fiona, and Nydia – what great friends we’ve made over the years with those fabulous ladies and their dashing hubbies.

I had an idea recently: to start a new salon concert series with rising stars and pair the Austin Classical Guitar Society with the Heritage Society of Austin, Twin Liquors, and Anotnelli’s Cheese Shop (a new unbelievably awesome cheese shop in Hyde Park).  We’re talking music in an intimate setting, wine, cheese, historic home (the Heritage Society does the Austin Historic Homes tour).  I had pitched the idea to Heritage Society already but on Tuesday August 31st I sat down with John Antonelli to talk cheese.  At the oment it looks like we are firing on all fronts and I expect that soon I’ll be able to announce a new salon series – we’re thinking three events this fall.

On September 30th KLRU will air the documentary they did of our festival!  We designed and sent invites to a private viewing for volunteers and sponsors of the fest on Friday September 3rd and we got 70 reservations in one day!  And speaking of upcoming cool things, we’ve just sold out (today) our benefit concert at Jeff and Gail Kodosky’s home on September 18th featuring my Oberlin mentor Steve Aron.  Jeff Kodosky was one of the 3 founders of National Instruments and he and Gail are tremendous supporters of the arts in Austin.  They’ve hosted our benefit event every year for nearly 10 years now and they have been great supporters of many arts groups including ACGS.

Speaking of Jeff Kodosky, we had a delicious lunch at Mirabelle on Tuesday and got to catch up on the summer, his thoughts on our festival, the health of ACGS and our vision for the near future.  He also told me about his trip to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to see the total solar eclipse in July and their 2-week, 6-country, African safari in August.  Amazing stories!

Anyhow, back to 2 weeks ago… I had a tremendous lunch with Elizabeth Pyeatt on Thursday the 2nd, community relations manager for Austin Asset Management Company.  Liz is possibly the nicest person in the whole world.  In addition to steering the charitable giving that Austin Asset Management Company directs to ACGS, she personally volunteers for us on a regular basis and even committed to help with our huge February Gala we’re planning at One World Theater on Feb 12.  Coincidentally I had actually met our new contact for One World Theater (Cristin Mehan), at One World Theater, earlier that same morning to hammer out the final of the basic details for our event there.

Friday the 3rd was an early flight to California.  Sadly, Glenda’s dad passed away in July, and in the Buddhist tradition the first 49 days after someone passes are of great significance and the 49th day is an occasion to have certain religious observances and services.  So I went out to join Glenda and the family for the weekend – I returned just 48 hours later on that Sunday.  It was a warm visit and we all miss Dr. T.H. Lee very, very much.

I’ve got a new artistic project.  Its a trio project with two dear colleagues: Steve Kostelnik and Tom Echols.  We met on Monday the 6th and played guitars.  It felt great to make some music with other great players – its been a while!

Whew!  That almost catches us up.

We had a fantastic board meeting today.  We delivered financials showing that ACGS is healthy, and grew substantially again this past year.  We had lively talk about the many upcoming events and projects in store.  I even got to report on my trip yesterday over to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  Jeremy Osborne (ACGS’ asst. Dir. of Education) and I met with music teachers Shannon and Jane and Principal Miles at TSBVI and we had a spirited and productive conversation about beginning a classical guitar class there!  Miles even took me on a tour of the facility and introduced me to the 6 kids that we might have the opportunity to work with.  I’m simply thrilled.

Oh, and right after the meeting at TSBVI I met with Gustavo Hernandez who is the volunteer director (engineer by day) of Villa Esperanza – a group dedicated to helping Hispanic kids to choose to go to college and stay in college once they go through mentorship and scholarship.  Gus is considering a father-son initiative and thought a guitar class might be a way to get fathers and sons in the door and working together on something.  We’ll see what happens!

Back to today’s board meeting, though.  In addition to financials and new nominees and some other business, today was the last day for Becky Travelstead to be on our board.  She finished her second 3-year term, so 6 years total, the past 4 of which she served as president.  Becky has seen us rise to become the largest guitar society in America ever, and she saw us through some rough times on the road to get here.  We made a little presentation, had a plaque and a small packet showing our appreciation for her leadership and dedication.  Thank you Becky!

Things are really starting to heat up, actually.  Huge projects are on the horizon and, if all goes according to plan here, it looks like we’ll actually be in a position to meet our demands by bringing on the talent we need to get it all done.

Until soon.

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