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!

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