Hello from Brownsville

4/9/2011 Saturday 5:52 pm

I’m in Brownsville, Texas.  If you haven’t been here, you should come sometime!  Particularly to the UTB campus, which is gorgeous.  I always enjoy my trips here to participate in this amazing festival Michael Quantz has put together at UT Brownsville.  A testament to his work, the fest has grown this year in registrants by 40% bringing the total up to over 290.

I flew down Thursday and went directly to UT Brownsville’s fabulous new performing arts center where the college round of the competition was already in progress.  This is a guitar ensemble competition, so duos, trios, quartets and large ensembles are all competing in elementary, middle school, high school and college divisions.  I jumped into judging with several colleagues including my friend Tony Morris (host of the internationally syndicated radio show Classical Guitar Alive) and Jon Dotson (a UT grad and phenomenal player and teacher who is now a guitar professor right here at UTB!).  We listened to great groups from all around the country, did our judging thing, and then had just enough time for a quick dinner before returning to UTB for the Thursday night concert featuring Isaac Bustos.

Isaac is also a recent Ut grad, he is guitar professor at Texas A&M.  He’s a magnificent player, an incredible teacher and – I can now happily announce – he will be appearing on our (ACGS’) International Concert Series this coming November!  Needless to say, his concert was fabulous, and we all enjoyed a great hang afterward with friends including Jeff Cogan from Southern California who was the long-time director of the international competition of the GFA, and is guitar professor at Chapman University and president of the Orange County Guitar Circle.

It was a great night.  Made even better when I returned to my hotel and walked into – who else? – Pepe, Celin, Celino and Lito Romero!  It was great to see them all.  It’s been a little while since I saw all of them.  Of course last summer we had Pepe in Austin for our giant festival.  As it turns out, I’ve had the great pleasure these last few years of teaching Pepe’s nephew in Austin.  So we had a lot to talk about before retiring shortly after midnight.

You get the idea!  More of the same Friday – the highlight of which was a phenomenal concert by Denis Azabagic followed by sushi with the whole gang.  Today I did not judge, but instead I taught a master class to some wonderful students, had a few hours to practice, and soon I’ll head out to see Los Romeros!

I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with Kurt Martinez, a good friend, director of guitar at UT Pan Am who is hosting the festival I’m playing at in a few short weeks!

Here's a shot of Dr. Michael Quantz introducing the festival, and one of his fabulous University ensembles, before Bustos performed Thursday.

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