KMFA, Michelle Schumann, and more

1/27/2011 Thursday 10:23 pm

The first big thing that happened today was a trip to KMFA 89.5FM at 9AM (which took me along the route to Taco Deli where I was obliged to stop for one of their delicious potato, egg, cheese, and avocado breakfast tacos, mm mm good) where I avidly pitched on-air for them for their 44th birthday fund drive!  I actually enjoy doing that quite a bit.  I love the folks at KMFA: Jeffrey, Joan, Alison, Lauren, Suzanne, Dianne, and so many more.  It’s a great environment to be in, but more than that I love sitting across the console from Dianne (Donovan), and talking about the value our community has for the fine cultural arts here in Austin.  I actually enjoy the challenge of coming up with ways to talk about the great things happening here in Austin and, of course, turning that into overt requests for folks to pledge – by calling 4-7-2-2-2-2-1, right now, to support our classical music radio station.  Today I came armed with a handful of giveaways – 3 pairs tix to Xuefei Yang, 3 pairs tix to David Russell, and one chance to win a pair of tix to our huge gala on February 12th.  It wasn’t even fair!  I think folks just had to call!  Well, I’m extremely happy to report that the drive-hour I was on was a big success and I was informed that we broke some kind of record for the amount of money we raised – I’m not sure what record it was, but we raised a bunch and had a terrific time doing it!

One trip home – and one flurry of emails later – I was off to see Michelle Schumann, phenomenal pianist and fearless leader of the Austin Chamber Music Center, at Blue Star Cafe on Lamar – our official meeting place.  Michelle and I get together a few times a year to commiserate about our lives as nonprof arts execs, and, of course, to scheme fun ways we can work together.  I should say that we are – for each other – two of the first people we met in Austin.  Michelle and I both started graduate school in music at UT and attended the very first orientation session in 1996 together – choke – 15 years ago!  So it’s funny to now be in our respective roles.  Commiserate and scheme we did!  Of the former – I’m not revealing anything and shame on you for wondering (!), of the latter, we’re having fun planning a collaboration on a Tango concert we’re co-presenting at the Mexican American Cultural Center on July 16th.  It’s gonna be big fun – and it’ll be totally sold out – that tends to happen when Michelle and I get ACGS and ACMC tgoether!

Here we are after our tasty Blue Star lunch!

I also wanted to share some sentiments that have come in from cyber-land.  I got a wonderful email from a high school student somewhere in New Mexico yesterday, here’s and excerpt:

“I am an aspiring guitarist…my guitar teacher gave our classes a couple of pieces to practice reading and playing from one of your books. The two pieces were Pendulum Waltz and Sand Dunes. I am very fond of waltzes and classical music in general, so naturally these two songs caught my attention immediately…I  was if you had any advice for an aspiring young music writer? I love to tinker around on the guitar and piano and find little things to write here and there, but I would like to one day write at least one official song, even if I never get to produce it. Do you have any advice on how to go about actually putting what might be playable pieces and segments of songs together to sort of create a flow that might compile a song? I have several tiny short segments a few notes long, but I don’t know how to even find what key I might think I am playing in. I just want to figure out a way to fit them together to solve a kind of puzzle in my mind.”

Isn’t that the coolest the thing in the whole world?  I just love getting messages like this one from young artists who are at the outset of discovering the amazing things they will discover.

I’m also pleased to report that I got my first online review of Creativity to Community: Arts Nonprofit Success One Coffee at a Time today!  5 Stars!  Check out the review here.

And that’s about it!  Well, I posted a new blog at ACGS about John Henry McDonald that’s fun to read!  I did a brief interview with him on the occasion of he and Austin Asset Management Company being our presenting sponsors of our February 12th gala.  Oh, and our two new series are now online: Classical Cactus and Austin Guitar Salon!  Check ’em out!

OK, off to bed soon.  Tomorrow is a big day.  At 1:30 I’m supposed to give a 90 minute talk and performance for UT Forum – a continuing ed program for retirees at UT at the Thompson Conference Center – typical audiences range into the 100s!  I’m talking, of course, about guitar and community service.  While at Ut, I’m having a meeting with the grad students who teach in the UT String Project Guitar Division – a program I consult on and help set curriculum for.  Good, clean, fun!

Guitars Under the Stars

1/26/2011 Wednesday 2:30 pm

We’ve been working on a big gala at ACGS.  Hey – if you’d like to join us for Valentine’s Day… this is going to be a wonderful, special, relaxing, enjoyable, delicious and entertaining evening!  Open bar, valet parking, the works.  Call ACGS at 512-300-2247 or visit us online for tix

Here’s the info:

In just under three weeks it will be Valentine’s Weekend!  Our Guitars Under the Stars Gala is theperfect choice for Valentine’s Day this year!  We have put together an incredible evening at Austin’s picturesque One World Theater.  We begin with cocktails from 6:30 to 7 followed by a delicious seated dinner by one of Austin’s premiere caterers: Kurant Events from 7-8.  Then we’ll walk leisurely up One World’s stone and ironwork staircase to their famously intimate theater and hear William Kanengiser – one of the world’s leading guitarists – perform… just for us.

Tickets are $100, proceeds benefit ACGS Educational Outreach, complimentary valet parking is provided – it simply doesn’t get any better than this.  Valet parking, amazing dinner and drinks, great company, gorgeous surrounding, premiere entertainment.  All for one price, at one place.  Cocktail attire.  Seating is limited.

Call us today at 512-300-ACGS to reserve your tickets, or visit us online.

There will be no auction at this year’s gala – just a fantastic evening.  Champagne can be purchased for $100 a glass, however, to support ACGS Education and to receive a chance to win a spectacular diamond donated by Joe Koen and Son Jewelers!

Guitars Under the Stars has been made possible this year by a generous gift from our Presenting Sponsor: Austin Asset Management Company.  ACGS is profoundly grateful to Joe Koen and Son Jewelers for their donation of a spectacular diamond for this year’s gala.  ACGS would like to offer our deep thanks to Celestial Sponsors Carolyn & Marc Seriff and the Louise Epstein and John Henry McDonald Trust.  Special thanks to Twin LiquorsKMFA 89.5 FM, and Claudia Roeschmann of RoeschmannDesign.

I’m on KMFA tomorrow at 9AM for an hour!

1/26/2011 Wednesday 2:26 pm

I’ll be on KMFA Thursday (tomorrow) for an hour from 9-10AM to ptich for the KMFA Birthday Fund Drive!

Are you a fan of KMFA?  If you are, please tune in tomorrow and call in to the station and make a pledge of support.  KMFA is one of our great cultural treasures here in Austin, they are communication central for the arts and I love to support KMFA whenever I can.

I’d love to read the names of friends while I’m pitching on the air tomorrow!  So tune in, and make that quick call to support central Texas’ classical music radio station!

In other news, things are flying a mile a minute here.  Yesterday I was asked to return to the UT School of Social Work to be on a panel of nonprof EDs.  On the panel with me was Carolyn Schwartz of Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, and Michael Willard of Habitat for Humanity.  We presented and answered questions to a class led by Dr. Calvin Streeter, a dear friend at UT School of Social Work and the fellow who led the social impact study on our ed program in 2009.

Earlier in the day I had the distinct pleasure of having coffee with Colleen Cole, brilliant leader, “Mistress of Power” in charge of Austin’s Josco Products.  Colleen also happens to co-chair development for the Austin Museum of Art and is a huge arts fan in general.  Then today I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with JoAnn McKenzie – what a dynamo!  Read about her to believe it!  The amazing thing about both women, is how much they give back to this community, and how much they support the arts in Austin.

Much more is happening, of course.  Tomorrow, speaking of dynamos, I get to catch up with Dr. Michelle Schumann, ED of Austin Chamber Music Center.  The Friday I’ll be giving a lecture over at UT for the continuing ed program UT Forum.  I have 90 minutes to talk about guitar and community service…

Florian Larousse in Concert

1/24/2011 Monday 5:51 pm

I had fun with our French guest Florian Larousse this past week.

Saturday night he played a marvelous concert for us (ACGS) for 500+ patrons!

I blogged and posted pictures on my (hush, hush) other blog…

Here’s a link!

New Mexico All State Guitar

1/23/2011 Sunday 9:19 pm

I had the honor of going to New Mexico to conduct the All-State Guitar Ensemble there several weeks ago.  I think the reason I’ve not yet posted anything about the trip was that the experience was so overwhelmingly powerful for me that I haven’t been exactly sure what to write!  I had an amazing time.  The kids were incredible.  My colleagues in new Mexico are amazing.  I worked as hard as I know how to work, the kids really responded, and we played great for what I would guess was close to 1,000 people.  I arrived on a Wednesday (January 5th).  We rehearsed from 7-9PM, then 8-5 both Thursday and Friday, and then a bit more on Saturday morning before our noon performance.  I was on a plane home by 3:30PM that afternoon!

Most importantly: the kids were incredible.  They were stuck in a room with me for close to 20 hours.  I was counting and waving my arms around and singing and demanding as much as I know how to demand from young musicians the entire time.  I was thoroughly exhausted, and I know they were too, yet they gave it everything they had. There were 72 players from all over the state.  Secondly, John Truitt is an amazing man.  He was my host, the person who invited me to go out last spring, and the man most directly responsible for the fact the there is All-State guitar in new Mexico at all.  He and his colleagues Mickey Jones and Jeremy Mayne are doing simply miraculous things at the Albuquerque Academy, and I was honored and inspired to be around them.  Oh and they’re the nicest people in the whole world, too.

I think the combination of hard work, intense deadline pressure, tons of new young people to work with, etc. made the whole thing particularly emotionally intense as well.  For several days after the trip I told anyone who asked that the experience was transformative for me – it truly was.  I came back a changed person.

I’ve gotten some incredible feedback since my return.  One colleague wrote:

“Your contribution went so far beyond the visible and the audible…the good will that your visit and your work engendered will last so, so long!  the life of our initiative was given such a push by your work.  the kids daily remind me of why I love this stuff, but your visit went further than that.  It all came together.  We were much greater than the sum of our parts…”

And a student, who also asked for advice about a career in music wrote:

“I was a participant in the New Mexico Guitar All State this year. I was in the guitar two group…I really was moved by your love for the music, and your aptness to teach us, a group of strangers. I wanted to let you know that I deeply appreciate it. It was the biggest performance I had ever been a part of and it meant a lot to me…I just met you for the first time on Wednesday, but I look up to you. You are an inspiration to me and I would like to thank you so much for everything this week. It truly will be a memory I will never forget…”

These are just a few little examples.  I feel so incredibly fortunate to have have the experience I did, and I’m incredibly thankful to each and every student, director, administrator and parent that helped make it all happen.  Here are some pictures:

Here's a great shot of some of the kids during a rehearsal.

And here I am doing something important - I'm sure of it!

Here we are during our dress rehearsal on stage.

More Dress Rehearsal!

Here's what our dress rehearsal looked like from the hall!

After the concert we snapped this shot with the students and profs from Albuquerque Academy!

And last, a shot from the actual performance! The kids did great!