5 Shows: Flamenco, Jazz, Miro, Cactus & Guitar Salon!

5/15/2011 Sunday 9:42 pm

Whew!  What a week.  Last weekend we saw three shows in a 24 hour period.  Then this week was the final spring concerts for both our Classical Cactus Series and our Austin Guitar Salon Series.  Life is most definitely good!

I met Juanito Pascual in Boston in February when I was up there with Eliot Fisk doing an address and workshop on nonprof stuff for him at NEC. Juanito is a fine flamenco player who writes really beautiful and inventive music. When we met in Boston he told me he had a May 7 gig in Austin at this marvelous East Austin venue called Esquina Tango. I'm so glad Glenda and I were able to go. We saw a whole bunch of friends there, were treated to a magnificent environment, and a phenomenal performance. Juanito may just have to come back to Austin soon...

The next morning - Sunday the 8th - we met our friends Mike and Linda for Sunday Jazz brunch at the Highball. It was Mike and Linda's 22nd anniversary! incidentally, the Highball is owned by our friends Tim and Karrie League - who also own Alamo Drafthouse - in the Highball they have created an amazing venue for food and entertainment with a ball room, bowling allies, private karaoke rooms... you get the idea.

...and performing for the Jazz Brunch? The Jeff Lofton trio. This was fun, because I had just met Jeff (playing trumpet in this photo) two days earlier when we played at the convention center for the Austin Convention and Visitor's Bureau annual luncheon celebrating Austin's 20th year as the "Live Music Capital of the World". Jeff is fantastic.

Last Sunday was a huge day because it was the final performance of the Miro Quartet with Sandy Yamamoto as 2nd violinist. 15 years! I went to college with Daniel who is Sandy's husband and the quartet's 1st violinist. I also went to college with the cellist - Josh Gindele. So we know the group extremely well, and this was a beautiful, magical, and bittersweet performance indeed! Sandy and Daniel have two beautiful children and this decision has been made so she can spend time with them. I've never been able to figure out how they do what they do (traveling and playing in major venues on different continents near-weekly) even without kids! The concert was stunning. In this pic, Sandy was giving an emotional address to the audience before they played their final selection - by Haydn.

After the Miro concert we spent a long time at a dinner honoring Sandy. Here Daniel and the Quartet are presenting her with a certificate of some kind! It seemed almost everyone in the arts community was there including some of Austin's most important and generous arts patrons: Jeff and Gail Kodosky, Sarah and Ernest Butler, and Joe and Terry Long. We sat with Jeff and Gail, actually, along with my mentor Adam Holzman and his wife Carolyn, and we enjoyed a delicious dinner and a rousing round a stories and conversation... almost all about food!

On Thursday night we presented our final "Classical Cactus" event of the season. Our shows have been, I'll say, "wildly" popular. On Thursday we had about 135 in a venue that seats only 115. When I got up on stage between acts and asked the audience if this is something we should keep doing in the fall, the applause was phenomenal. In this pic you see Thai guitarist, and UT graduating masters student, YK. He was followed by the Texas Guitar Quartet. The Cactus shows are casual yet the artistry is great, and I think we've hit on a powerful formula indeed.

And now on to last night... here's a shot of Kendal Antonelli (left) and Jacqui Schraad. Kendal is co-owner, with John, of Antonelli's Cheese Shop. Jacqui is Executive Director of the Heritage Society of Austin. I asked them both last fall if they would partner with me (ACGS) and Twin Liquors to do intimate concerts in historic homes with wine and cheese receptions... and they said yes! Thank you so much Kendal and Jacqui, here's to three, fabulous, sold out "Austin Guitar Salon" events!

And here's the performance from last night. The Texas Guitar Quartet was phenomenal. They are, from left to right: Joe Williams, Alejandro Montiel, Jonathan Dotson, and Isaac Bustos. The crowd was ecstatic and jumped to their feet after the last piece, and after the encore as well. Austin Guitar Salon and Classical Cactus have both been amazing and positive experiments in moving our series offerings into "new spaces" both figuratively and literally!

Much, much more happened last week – including an article about our Classical Cactus Series Tuesday on the cover of the Statesman’s Life and Arts section, major developments on our education curriculum and training plans, a Thursday Board Meeting, and the launch of our new Latin Summer Series we’re calling “Pasion”.  But more on all of that some other time.

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