3/30/2011 Wednesday 12:17 pm

Having loads of fun these days.

Here’s a link to a new site for a festival in South texas I’m playing on at the end of the month!

I just got off the radio – KMFA – where I pitched for a few hours for their spring fund drive.  We made money!  Lunch yesterday was with the dynamic Cameron Lockley, co-owner of La Sombra, a fabulous new pan-South American Cuisine restaurant that i’m thrilled to say is our new partner for our ACGS Latin summer series (soon to be announced).  Hooray.

Monday I was down at Corazon for an incredible lunch with John Grimes – dynamic entrepreneur and president elect of the board of Greenlights for nonprofs here in Austin.  Speaking of which, their director of Education just asked is I would join them for lunch Friday to be one of 2 nonprof ED’s for a mentoring program they’re running.  That’s fun, but it will be tight since we’re on the TV Friday at 8:40 with David Russell and then over to KUT live at 11am.  But hey!  This is what we signed up for!

So much is happening as always.  Russell is nearly sold out for this weekend.

Oh, my book reading and signing Sunday was tons of fun – it was great to see friends and meet new people too.  Thanks to everyone who came out!  All for now.

I had fun on TV this morning!

3/25/2011 Friday 11:17 am

I had a blast with Keri Belacosa on TV this morning talking about my Bookreading and Signing coming up Sunday at 7!

Here’s the link!

Washington DC and beyond

3/24/2011 Thursday 8:55 pm

I had a marvelous trip to Washington DC two weeks ago.  It was an honor to be asked back to judge the Beatty Competition.  It’s a youth competition for DC-area classical guitar kids.  The playing level is very high thanks particularly to the amazing work being done in the Loudoun County Public Schools combined with the fantastic private teaching emanating from graduates of the Peabody Conservatory at places like the Levine School.  The competition is powered largely by the efforts of Amy Cutts, a dynamic volunteer and board member of the parent organization: The International Conservatory of Music (ICM).  ICM also has a long-lived and prestigious concert series called the John E. Marlow Guitar Series.

I judged from the 12th to the 14th of March, staying in Chevy Chase with my wonderful hosts Howard and Lola Byron.  Howard is also on the ICM board.  Then on the 15th, I was honored to be asked to lead a strategic planning session with the ICM board.  ICM is a terrific 30-year old organization and husband and wife Tim and Susan Healey are among the passionate leadership that have brought the organization along its distinguished path and are the driving forces for its vision for the future.

Then Glenda and I had two days off.  We spent some time with my mom and step-dad in Virginia near Manassas and studied up on our civil war history!  It was a fantastic and restful visit.

Things in Austin have reached a new level – as usual!  Lessee.  My book reading is this Sunday at 7PM at BookPeople!  I was on the air live with John Aielli talking it up on Tuesday, I’ll be on Fox 7 with Keri Belacosa tomorrow morning at 9:40AM, and I got some nice mentions from Jeanne Claire Van Ryzin (Statesman) and Robert Faires (Chronicle) today!

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing the amazing multi-Grammy-winning Eighth Blackbird perform at UT.  They did a staged work called Slide collaborating with an electric guitarist/composer and a singing actor.  As it turns out, I went to Oberlin at the same time they were formed there and we’re old friends.  So it was amazing to see them again!  Daniel Ching and Sandy Yamamoto came too, also friends from Oberlin, and also members of an unbelievably successful chamber ensemble: The Miro Quartet!

Here's a picture Daniel Ching took last night of me and Nick Photinos. Nick is a dear friend, and cellist for Eighth Blackbird. After their amazing concert about 20 of us spent way too much time having fun in the lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel!

ACGS is hopping.  We’re on our way to another sold out show for this Saturday evening: our second Austin Guitar Salon Event, this one featuring Janet Grohovac.  We’re also on our way to selling out next week’s David Russell concert.  No big surprise there, the Grammy-winning music genius is one of my all-time favorites, and, apparently, I’m not the only one!  While he’s here, David has offered to play a round of golf with the highest bidder in a new online auction we’ve just launched to support our education program.  David is reported to be an excellent golfer!

But these major events are just a teeny portion of what’s really going on these days at ACGS.  For example, this Saturday and Sunday we’re engaging in two, 10-hour film shoots to gather tutorial video for our massive online training program.  Tomorrow we’ll spend two hours with the web developers getting up to speed on the research they’ve been doing.  We’re busily lining up sponsors for our summer series – a celebration of music and musicians of Latin America.  We had a marvelous and very fruitful meeting with Univision today where we outlined a very fruitful partnership going forward, for example.  A week from Saturday, before David Russell, we’ll have an all-day festival called Guitars Galore where about 115 players form Texas and Oklahoma will send the day with us rehearsing and playing with and for each other.  Their finale as a giant group will take place immediately before the David Russell concert!

And then there’s the biggie.  You heard it here first.  On October 1st we’re planning a big blowout.  It will be a whole new level of interdisciplinary entertainment at a huge and exciting new Austin venue with lots of partners!  We’re calling it: Austin Pictures.  So stay tuned for more on that!

Xuefei Yang and more

3/6/2011 Sunday 9:45 pm

It was fabulous having Xuefei Yang here this past weekend!  What an artist, what an intellect, and what energy.  Her husband Neil Muir was with her, and we had a wonderful time getting to know each other as the week progressed.  Neil took these pictures:

Here we are with Catherine Kissel at Fox 7 Morning News on Thursday

Here I am introducing the concert Saturday night. We had over 500 people in the hall - wow!

Fei performing. What a superb artist. She played Bach, Albeniz, Chopin, Regondi, a Chinese work, and more...

Fei received several standing ovations over the course of the evening - and ended up playing two encores!

Last post I mentioned some of the larger events I’ve been involved with.  Mostly performances or lectures on the weekends.  More is coming!  We go to Washington DC this Friday where I’ll judge a youth guitar competition and then do some consulting for a guitar society in Washington DC next Tuesday.  We return the following weekend, the on the 26-27 ACGS has two all-day video shoots for our online training program, and on the evening of the 26th we present our second installment of “Austin Guitar Salon” featuring Janet Grohovac… and on the 27th at 7PM is my book reading and signing at BookPeople!  The following weekend is our Guitars Galore Festival with 9 ensembles and over 100 players joining us all day, and on the same day (April 2nd) David Russell (that’s right, the Grammy-winning supreme guitar-artist!) will be here as well as the finale to our International Concert Series that evening!  Then it’s off to Brownsville the week after (judging and teaching), Sacramento the week after that (performing, lecturing and workshop), and then back to south Texas, Edinberg, on Easter Sunday for a concert Monday.  And so it goes!  True weekends continue to be hard to come by!

But there are a lot of other interesting things going on.  I’ve just finalized the summer series for 2011 (a few weeks ago) and we’re putting together collaborators – especially related to food – that I hope to have in the can this week.  Also, last week, I finalized our international series – including our benefit concert and gala – for 2011-2012.  And there have been a host of fascinating meetings.  Some of my favorites recently are a lunch I had Friday with Cathy Panoff, director of the UT Performing Arts Center (Texas Performing Arts) who invited me and the leadership of Austin’s amazing choral organization Conspirare to lunch for a secret and very cool purpose… to be revealed some other time!  Earlier last week I got a tour and sit-down with Adam Wilson who directs the Griffin School in Austin as the result of an invitation from their board president Clay Levit (also the owner of Fiddler’s Green Music Shop here in Austin).  Griffin School has a very neat model with a strong arts focus in their curriculum.  Before that I had a marvelous meeting with AISD’s director of fine arts Greg Goodman where we talked through some ideas for AISD to partner with us to enrich our huge plans for our opening night of our 11-12 International Series at the new ACL Moody Theater with some very cool student participation.  We also had our kick-off meeting with FG-Squared to begin our discover/define process for building our online education training program (our single biggest project of 2011) – the same day I we had lunch with the leadership of Austin Shakespeare to explore possible collaboration ideas, along with a conference call with the Guitar Foundation of America to select artists for the 2012 convention that will take place in South Carolina.

So it continues to be a challenging and interesting and stimulating existence.  I’m particularly excited about my new book entering into distribution (still waiting), the book signing locally, the travel, and the planning for all of our big upcoming events.  I also think we’re poised to do something of lasting significance with out online training program, and I can’t wait to launch it!  Just gotta do tons, and tons of work – and raise loads more money – between now and then!