What an amazing year we’ve had at ACG! We’re beyond grateful for the many new opportunities to serve, and for the time we’ve spent with friends old and new sharing beautiful things. After much lively debate, we are thrilled to present our ACG Top 10 of 2023!

As we approach the New Year, we hope you’ll consider making a year-end gift! Your contribution will turn into services and resources for schools, Juvenile Justice centers, hospitals, shelters, and community programming at The Rosette. 

Thank you for being part of our journey!

#10 Our Team Grows

Everything good at ACG happens because of people. We love our team, and this year we welcomed in some wonderful new members: Todd Waldron (Production Director), John Henry Johnson (Artistic Associate), Jeremy Roye (Rosette Venue Manager), Talin Nalbandian (Operations Associate), Judit Kolics (Development Associate), and Phil Swasey (Director of Curriculum & Partnerships).

Pictured From Top Left: [Row 1] Norma Hawes (Office Manager), Judit Kolics (Development Associate), Pietro Caporusso (Lead Volunteer), Hector Aguilar (Director Juvenile Justice Services), Phil Swasey (Director of Curriculum & Partnerships), Tony Mariano (Director of Community Education), Joe Williams (Artistic Director), Todd Waldron (Production Director), [Row 2] Matt Hinsley (Executive Director), John Henry Johnson (Artistic Associate), Liam Dolan-Henderson (Production Intern), James Fidlon (Managing Director), Joshua Friedman (Grants Manager), [Row 3] Arnold Yzaguirre (Healing and Teaching Artist), Debra Lewis (House Manager), Justice Phillips (Patron Services & Box Office Manager), Jeremy Roye (Rosette Venue Manager), [Row 4] Angelica Campbell (Communications Director), Jen Bamberg (Events Director) 
Not Pictured: Travis Marcum (Director of Education and Music & Healing), Claire Puckett (Music & Healing Coordinator), Salvador Garcia (Operations Director), Talin Nalbandian (Operations Associate), Vijay Meunier (Teaching Artist), Francisco de la Rosa (Teaching Artist, Ensemble Director), Alex Lew (Assistant Director ACGYO), Brendon Grabowski (Teaching Artist), Camille Schiess (Healing Artist), Maddie Coronado (Education intern), Rey Rodriguez (Teaching Artist), Stephen Krishnan (Ensemble Director), Cesar Gomez (Teaching Artist), Joseph Palmer (Performance Engagement Artist), Shayna Sands (Healing Artist), Jeremy Waldrip (Teaching Artist), Will Flowers (Juvenile Justice San Antonio), Gabriel Ibarra (Juvenile Justice Dallas), Jeri Lyn Sump (Accountant), Claudia Roeschmann (Graphic and Brand Design)

#9 Rosette Goes Global 

Thanks to the support of our incredible Production team, The Rosette has transcended its physical boundaries to captivate audiences globally through electrifying live-streams! 

The virtual stage has hosted many incredible performances. Including performances from two extraordinary guitar sensations, Andrea Caballero and Stephanie Jones, collectively gathering over 150,000 views from around the world!

To the music enthusiasts, supporters, and curious minds who tuned in from various time zones, we extend our sincerest gratitude. We look forward to sharing more magic with you soon.

#8 Juvenile Justice Beautiful Moments

Music reaches places where words fall short and changes lives through the simple act of sharing kindness over time. For over ten years, we’ve been on a mission to harness this gentle and profound power for youth in the Texas Juvenile Justice system.

Since 2012, ACG had been offering Texas’ first and only daily, for-credit performing arts courses within the Juvenile Justice system. The impact of this initiative has been monumental. Just this month, students performed beautifully in each of the five facilities where we serve, including our newest program in Austin: The Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program. Kim Andersen, a longtime partner, captured the transformative nature of these programs in a recent letter. 

“I can’t say enough about how much the addition of music influences the lives of our incarcerated youth. Every student in Guitar starts out reluctant, afraid of failure, and afraid of trying. The ACG teachers coax them out of their protective shell, note by note, until they’re performing in front of crowds.

It’s an amazing sight to see their faces when they look up and take in the effect they’ve had on those in attendance. Many of them choose to continue their guitar studies after they leave Gardner Betts, and ACG makes sure whatever school they’re enrolling in next is prepared to receive them with open arms, often providing an instrument to our resident students as their discharge from the facility. They’re hooked on music! And they’ve accomplished something they didn’t imagine they could.”

Kim Andersen, Austin ISD School Counselor, Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center

Read the full letter here.

Learn More about ACG Juvenile Justice Services

Watch the PBS Newshour national TV special

Listen to the KUT radio story

#7 ACG Education

Late spring saw the release of our first-ever GuitarCurriculum Method Book, a sequenced compilation scores, exercises, and more to help teachers change lives in their classrooms. Our method books were premiered at the National Teacher Summit in Austin and are now in use all over the country! 

2023 has also been marked by growth in many of our partner communities around the country. Our Education team traveled to Columbia, South Carolina and worked with 30 teachers in July, and we’ll return next summer too! Other trips include presentations at New York, Kentucky, and South Carolina Music Educators conventions, along with visits all over Texas. New apps and a new website are on the horizon as well, so stay tuned for big growth in our flagship service.

#6 Jiji with Heart of Texas Quartet

In April, ACG had the incredible honor to welcome to Austin the incredible JIJI, one of the rising stars in the guitar world. 

A unique talent, Jiji’s playing and compositions are on the cutting edge and we felt it was a clear fit to pair her with some of our amazing young guitarists to collaborate. 

Four fabulous young guitarists, Juan Rodriguez (Crockett High School), Ace Pearson (Crockett High School), Jianna Zamora (Bowie High School), and Besa Carney (Bowie High School) joined forces to create the Heart of Texas Quartet. Jiji wrote a piece to play with them called Where You Are (Is Exactly Where You’re Supposed to Be). The results were absolutely incredible!

Oh, and by the way, the crinkling you hear at the beginning of the video is the sound of all the audience members opening a Korean treat called Choco Pie that Jiji had us tape under every seat. She wanted that sound to be part of the piece!


#5 Jorge Caballero Plays Liszt

Renowned for his awe-inspiring virtuosity, from tackling mammoth piano works to capturing the essence of orchestral suites on solo guitar, Jorge Caballero’s musical ability seems to know no bounds. 

Jorge performed our 2022-23 Season Finale, enchanting the audience with a gorgeous program including his jaw-dropping rendition of the Sonata in B minor, S. 178 by Franz Liszt. 

Listen to that magical performance here. It’s 30 minutes of stunning magic, so dim the lights, turn up the volume, and prepare to be amazed. 

As part of our Thank You newsletter and blog series last month, Jorge shared a beautiful letter to our community that you can read here. Enjoy!

#4 Reena Arrives!

Rising superstar composer Reena Esmail has been changing our world. Her energy and brilliance is infectious, and even though the premiere of her major work for ACG is yet to come (Get Tickets for February 17!) our spirits have already been lifted by her presence. 

After months of preliminary work, Reena joined us for about a week in early November visiting with over 60 ACG musicians, and meeting with board members, community members, and even Maestro Peter Bay, who would perform one of her works later that month with Austin Symphony!

We can’t wait for February 17, when five-member vocal ensemble Vamp will perform with Kristen Wolf-Jensen (Bassoon), Dieter Hennings (guitar), and more than 60 guitarists to premiere the piece Reena is creating for us.

#3 We’ve Always Known

Since 2014, ACG Music & Healing has been a beacon of solace, using the power of music to bring comfort and connection to those facing life’s challenges and traumas. 

One of the remarkable endeavors of the Music & Healing program is the creation of original songs born from conversations with participants. ACG Artists spend weeks sitting with individuals, discussing hopes, reflections, and experiences, which are then transformed into heartfelt songs. 

This year, for the first time ever, we had a concert sharing songs from this program. We’ve Always Known brought together four incredible Music & Healing artists – Claire Puckett, Camille Schiess, Daniel Fears, and Travis Marcum. They interpreted and shared incredible narratives they have helped shape through the program, giving us an unforgettable, moving concert experience.. 

One emotionally resonant piece from that concert was “In the Garden Green,” a song born from the Lullaby Project in Spring of 2019. Crafted by Meg for her son Garner, the song delves into the anticipation and love surrounding the birth of a child. Using the metaphor of a garden, Meg beautifully illustrates the journey of growth, peace, and resilience through life’s joys and challenges. 

Watch the full concert here and find the song descriptions of the program here

Take a deeper dive into what our Music & Healing artists do here.


#2 Home: The Elements 

The 2022-23 centerpiece concert, Home, was a monumental celebration for ACG. 

It was a celebration of nature, spirit and togetherness and featured the premiere of THE ELEMENTS, a new work created especially for our community by composer and guitarist Marek Pasieczny, ACG’s 2022-23 Artist-in-Residence.

The culmination of a year of dreaming, co-creating, refining, and preparing, Marek was joined on stage by the talented percussionist Thomas Burritt and Grammy-nominated cellist Bion Tsang as well as a massive orchestra of eighty guitarists of all ages led by ACG’s Artistic Director Joe Williams with video projections by photographer Barry Stone.

In a partnership with the AISD Performing Arts Center, the performance showcased guitar students from Bedichek Middle School, Akins High School, the ACG Youth Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble, as well as young artists from UT Austin, UT San Antonio, and UT Rio Grande Valley. The collaboration, a testament to the vibrant musical tapestry woven in Austin, wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication, time, and passion invested by everyone involved. Special thanks to our amazing video and audio production crews who worked tirelessly to make this video what it is.

The Elements was not merely a composition but a collaborative symphony of our community. 

Learn more about Marek’s residency and the project here:

A Journey Through Home

The Heart of Our Season with Joe Williams

Godai and the Guitar

Marek’s Five Elements: earth, fire, water, air, and ether. 

Marek’s Arrival

A Conversation with Artist Barry Stone


#1 Spy Kids

Famed film director Robert Rodriguez gave ACG a remarkable gift this year. 

First, he donated his iconic SPY KIDS movie themes to GuitarCurriculum, the ACG teacher resource serving tens of thousands of students worldwide every day. 

Then, Robert gave of his time, talent, and film crew to create a spectacular music video on the gorgeous Long Center stage featuring nineteen exceptional young players from our programs. 

Thank you Robert Rodriguez! For an in-depth look at how this extraordinary project unfolded, check out the Austin American-Statesman feature that delves into the behind-the-scenes story. And learn more about the dedicated individuals who made it all possible here.


Thank You

All of the beautiful things that happen at ACG are possible because of people who believe in what we do and choose to support our work. If you would like to join us, and it’s the right time to give, we invite you to make a year-end gift. We are so grateful to every one of you! 

In the space below, we would like to recognize some individuals and institutions for their exceptional generosity during the past year. We also invite you to view our 2023-24 sponsors here


3M Foundation, Adobe, Ameriprise Financial Community Relations, Amon Burton, Applied Materials Foundation, Arnold Foundation, in honor of Lazan Pargaman, atsec information security, Augustine Foundation, Austin Junior Forum, Bill & Lynne Cariker, Burdine Johnson Foundation, Cain Foundation, Carson & Michele McKowen, Debra Lewis, Dino Costa, Edwina Carrington, Gail Vanderlee Strain, Greg & Cindy Abell, Greg Wooldridge & Lynne Dobson, H-E-B, IBC Bank Austin, Jacqueline Rixen, Jeff & Gail Kodosky, Karrie & Tim League, Kodosky Foundation, Long Foundation, Robert Rodriguez, Louis & Mary Kay Smith Family Foundation, Lucy & Bill Farland, Martha P. Rochelle, Mary Raley, Megyn Busse, MFS Fund at the North Georgia Community Foundation, Mike Chesser, Mockingbird Foundation, Patricia Morrison, Rea Charitable Trust, Rich & Caryn Puccio, Rick & Valeri Reeder, Sarah & Ernest Butler, Seawell Elam Foundation, Shanti Foundation for Intercultural Understanding, Shield-Ayres Foundation, Stacia & Walt DeBill, Still Water Foundation, Texas Bar Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, Texas Women for the Arts, The Ben & Nancy Sander Family, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Gruppo Butera/Giacomo Butera, Live Oak Brewing Company, University Area Rotary Club, Warren Skaaren Charitable Trust, Webber Family Foundation, Fairweather Cider, Zack & Whitney Zamora.