Austin Now: Cycles

On Saturday, October 10th, we will experience a unique and captivating collaboration between two artistic mediums, paint and sound. Cycles is the first event in our Austin Now series, and is offered with presenting partner Big Medium. RSVP Online Here.

Two beloved Austin artists, Joseph Palmer (guitar) and Ryan Runcie (art), have teamed up to create a vivid streaming experience like none other. ACG’s Artistic Director, Joe Williams, asked them ‘What is your experience as an Austin artist today?’ and, twelve weeks later, Cycles is their answer: a collaborative artwork expressing their philosophies of nature, life, and their understanding of each other as artists. 

We spoke with these two incredibly talented creatives to better understand their vision: 

This project has been a process of exploration and discovery. We both share a deep fascination with nature and philosophy. These two elements combined with an understanding of each other’s artistic sensibilities guided the direction of the project. The concert doesn't hold any stark answers, more so reminders of the daily cycles of nature that are often overlooked that weave and overlap our daily lives. Focusing on the cycles of nature suppressed by our ‘blinders of humanity.’” -Ryan Runcie

“At a time when there appears to be such division between people, creating art and embracing the beauty of nature is our response. The appreciation for these things is universal. Music, art, and the love and understanding of nature are essential elements of humanity as well as some of the most powerful forces for dissolving boundaries between people. This experience is an invitation for people to calm the mental noise, be present, take a deep breath, feel the life force in and around you, and join us in an exploration of the cycles of nature.” -Joseph Palmer

The performance itself will be a live streaming experience with Ryan creating physical art while Joseph plays carefully selected music. The two have also created videos to be played as part of the evening. Joseph explains:

“People often become caught in a bubble of their self-made ‘reality’ - and though this is a tendency we all share- the personal opinions, things you believe, and things heard in the media can often influence one’s perception of the world so profoundly that many often fail to grasp the incredible beauty of the world we live in."

“Over these last few months, Ryan and I have captured numerous moments in our day-to-day lives through video accompanied by recordings I made on Kalimba, mandolin, bass guitar, guitar, bells, as well as the appearance of various household objects-turned-percussion instruments to pull people into our creative reality. In the live performance I’ll be playing pairs of pieces that don’t necessarily go together - together - in a complementary or contrasting way, which parallels the collaboration of painting and music.” 

Ryan added:

“The idea was based on showing a slow building process. We wanted to start with a more fragmented and sparse musical texture accompanying the videos. From there, we incorporate more instruments to represent the fullness of nature and the essence of growth.”

We at ACG are so excited to share such profound and intimate art with our community. We hope you join us to witness this uniquely Austin collaboration. RSVP Online Here.


30th Season: Fall Event Guide

On Saturday, September 26th, we had our opening online concert for our 30th season starring the incredible Pepe Romero and we have recieved the most amazing notes from all over the world about the magical event. Pepe asked that we leave it online for a little longer, so you can still see it and share it online here.

We have nine more extraordinary, free, live, online events coming up in the next twelve weeks. Here’s a complete listing!

We hope you can join us in the magic, art, music, and connection that is our 30th season!


Austin Classical Guitar: Fall Event Guide

Austin Now: CYCLES with Ryan Runcie (art) & Joseph Palmer (guitar) 

Saturday, October 10 at 8PM CDT

A vivid experience exploring the rhythms of life through paint and sound.


ACG Originals: I/WE 2020 presented by ARCOS & Austin Classical Guitar

Thursday, October 15 at 7PM CDT

Bonnie Cox, Ginnifer Joe, Kaitlyn Jones & Oddalys Salcido (dance) Erica Gionfriddo (choreography) Interviews with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Austin inspired ACG’s award-winning i/we (2017), reimagined in 2020 with breathtaking dance and image. 


UpClose Online: JIJI

Saturday, October 24 at 8PM CDT 

Electric. Classical. One of the most innovative players we’ve ever seen. 


ACG Originals: OFRENDAS presented in collaboration with Mexic-Arte Museum

Thursday, October 29 at 7PM CDT

Ofrendas will honor those no longer with us through music, art, and story by teachers, students, community members, and professional artists. 


Austin Now: THE SPACE IN BETWEEN with Oliver Rajamani (music) & John Aielli (poetry)

Saturday, November 7 at 8PM CST

Presented by One World & Austin Classical Guitar A masterfully woven tapestry of music and poetry in an Austin landmark.


UpClose Online: Andrea González Caballero

Saturday, November 14 at 8PM CST

Spectacular facility, beauty, clarity, refinement. 


Austin Now: LOOKING UP with Austin Guitar Quartet

Thursday, November 19 7PM CST

Presented in partnership with The Contemporary Austin Be transported to Laguna Gloria, where the sculptures will come to life in music.


Austin Now: ECHO with Daniel Fears, Montsho Jarreau Thoth & Claire Puckett

Sunday, December 6 at 5PM CST

Interactive performance of movement and sound asks, “Are we hearing each other, or just echoes?”


UpClose Online: Nella Fantasia with Matt Hinsley & The ACG Team

Saturday, December 12 at 8PM CST

Gratitude and joy in music and story.


30th Season Begins: Pepe Romero

PLEASE NOTE: This concert occurred on September 26th. UpClose Online events are conceived to be unique, one-time, moments of creation and togetherness. 

Ever since his standing-room-only, sold-out, people-in-the-hallways, first performance for ACG on Friday, October 10th, 2003 at the Unitarian Church, guitar legend Pepe Romero has been a huge part of Austin Classical Guitar. He has lifted us over the years with his music, with his stories, with his generosity, and his deep, spiritual presence. Los Romeros’ Father’s Day concert in 2006 marked the beginning of our summer ensemble programming. When we hosted the Guitar Foundation of America and produced sixty five events in six days at the Long Center, the week began with Pepe’s solo recital to a sold-out crowd in Dell Hall, introduced by the UT System Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, and live-broadcast by KMFA.

It’s because of this deep connection, that we couldn’t imagine anyone else opening our 30th year. His concert on September 26th at 8pm CT will be free, donations accepted, and beamed from Pepe’s living room into yours. RSVP Here

One of our warmest memories was made on October 13th, 2016, when Pepe graciously agreed to perform and record Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Major with over 80 of our high school students from all around Austin. You can watch the magical video below!

We caught up with two people who were there that night, and asked for their recollections. 

Rey Rodriguez, a student who we met in our local school programs Bedichek Middle School under the direction of Phil Swasey, and Crockett High School under the direction of Ron Hare, was part of the performance in 2016. We asked Rey how that performance was for him, he shared:

“It was amazing and I am very grateful to ACG for the experience. It was a great performance and super fun! I was able to sit front row and see Pepe Romero perform with us. It was also very impressive how he was able to lead that many students and keep their interest through many hours of practicing. It was inspiring to say the least.”

 We were lucky enough to be able to have Rey share the impact of this performance on his future as a musician with us: 

“I had seen interviews and multiple performances of Pepe through youtube prior to the performance, but afterwards I was able to truly see who he is as a teacher and musician. He is incredibly knowledgeable about musical phrasing and was able to convey that to a young 16 year old me who was still figuring out how to truly feel music. I am a second year B.A. guitar major at UT Austin and am currently teaching for the UT string project. I am grateful to have that performance to look back on and take notes from for my teaching.”

Rey also shared how the experience influenced him beyond the surface of being a student, and how it influenced him as an expressive musician and artist. 

“From the performance I learned that if you are truly passionate about what you love, there will always be someone there to listen. I'm sure if Pepe Romero was unenthusiastic and impatient with us no one would be inspired from the experience, but that didn't happen. He showed compassion and was very happy to see so many young guitarists in one place. His passion for guitar is inspiring. I hope through my playing and teaching, I can convey that passion to my audience and students like he does.”

We spoke with a parent who attended the rehearsal and the performance as well. Diane Skeel’s son, Andrew Baldauf was in the ensemble. She recalls,

 “The thing that sticks with me is the amazing energy that was in the room. Having that opportunity to play for and with Pepe Romero, it was like meeting an idol. I remember the nervous excitement, and the exhilaration as the music started to come together. It was particularly fun watching the kids as they went up afterwards to meet him and take photographs."

We are so grateful to have had the privilege of Pepe Romero’s musicianship, inspiration, and presence with us and to have the opportunity to share that with our community. We are so excited for his upcoming performance with us on September 26th. We hope that you can join us for the magic and look forward to experiencing more beauty and music together in our 30th season.

The Singing Guitar: An Interview with Janet Grohovac

ACG turns 30 this year! In celebration, one of our generous supporters is matching every gift up to $50,000 between now and our opening concert with maestro Pepe Romero on September 26th! Make a gift today.

Five years ago we had the chance to be part of a spectacular event at Bass Concert Hall when Texas Performing Arts commissioned a work from preeminent young composer Nico Muhly for Austin Classical Guitar and Austin’s very own Grammy-winning choir, Conspirare.

It was a night to remember! Complete with a massive thunderstorm right in the middle of the last movement when the kettle drums entered!

Now Conspirare has recorded the work as part of their new album: The Singing Guitar.

The work features Conspirare under the direction of maestro Craig Hella Johnson, with the LA Guitar Quartet, Texas Guitar Quartet, Austin Guitar Quartet and cellist Douglas Harvey. It’s set for release this Friday, September 18th. Plus, there will be a release party this Tuesday, September 15th via Youtube live, and you can join here.

Looking forward to the event, we got the chance to speak with member of the Austin Guitar Quartet, Janet Grohovac, who shared some beautiful insight on the music in the album and her experience in being part of the artistry of this amazing piece of work. 

It is remarkable to experience Muhly’s voice through the unique ensemble of a choir of voices and a choir of twelve guitars. We were curious to know how it felt to be part of the magic. Janet shared:

 “It was incredibly enriching and inspiring to collaborate with a large scale ensemble and such wonderful talent. During our first large ensemble rehearsal, Craig positioned all of us guitarists in a semi-circle on stage and then had the chorus completely surround us. Hearing their heavenly voices and the sheer beauty of sound that enveloped us as we began that rehearsal was an unforgettable moment. We became so excited and enthralled by the beauty of Muhly’s composition.”

Janet continued on to share the experience of being directed by Craig Hella Johnson.

“Craig found a way to bring the best out of you and would often say something like, “It would be a gift if you could....” (playing louder, or softer, or more lyrical, etc). His approach was uniquely uplifting and changed us in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. By the end of the journey, we knew we had captured something special together.”

Janet also shared with us the details of Nico Muhly’s composition How Little You Are.

“Muhly’s composition is based on the 19th century texts of the everyday life of two pioneer women. He brings to life the descriptions of nature and hardships of prairie life based on letters by Elinore Pruitt Stewart in all of the movements except for one. Part four of the work is based on the text of Mary Alma Blankenship, from which the “How Little You Are” title is derived. Her description ‘But when you get among such grandeur you get to feel how little you are, how foolish is human endeavor, except that which unites us with the almighty force called God’ is the text upon which the work was inspired and features solo soprano.”

As musicians, artists, and human beings we naturally connect ourselves in deep and meaningful ways to the art we observe, experience, and are part of. We had the pleasure of having Janet share her personal connection with Muhly’s composition and the ensemble:

“The fact that each of us individually, particularly as guitarists, were just a little part of the whole, because the texture was so large. Each little microcosm within each group has it’s own function, but it was the three groups coming together with Conspirare that carries their meaning and gives you the full picture, and at the end of it, you truly get the sense of how little you are.”

We are so excited to be able to enjoy and share something this beautiful and unique with our community. We hope that you can join us in listening to samples of this remarkable work, and connect with Craig Hella Johnson, the artists, and fellow listeners this Tuesday at the release party.

ACG Instrument Drive

ACG turns 30 this year! In celebration, one of our generous supporters is matching every gift up to $50,000 between now and our opening concert with maestro Pepe Romero on September 26th! Make a gift today.

We are hosting an instrument drive for guitar donations!

This drive will benefit local school programs that do not have enough instruments to support their guitar classes this year. This is especially important right now, because students are learning from home and do not have access to classroom instruments.

So, if you have any lonely nylon-string guitars collecting dust somewhere round them up and donate them to an aspiring young musician today!

Due to the structure of our classes, we are not able to use steel-string or electric guitars, only nylon string classical guitars will help at this time. If you’re unsure what you have, email us and ask!

You may drop off your donations at our office address any time during business hours.

5900 Balcones Dr. Suite #240 Austin, TX 78731

In the interest of safety, we won’t meet you at the door, but we’ll be checking for donations regularly.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Ciyadh Wells at

Thank you for your help in supporting our local students become successful young musicians and experience the joy of music making!

Connections: Manor ISD Guitar

ACG turns 30 this year! In celebration, one of our generous supporters is matching every gift up to $50,000 between now and our opening concert with maestro Pepe Romero on September 26th! Make a gift today.

Connections are so vital for us to recognize during this current reality that, at times, can make us feel far apart. A beautiful facet of music is the ability to create deep connections between people even at a distance or through a screen. Manor ISD is a beautiful example of the fine arts community blossoming even through the current challenges.

Decker Middle School Fine Arts Academy in Manor has caught our eye with their impressive program growth and expansive community engagement.  We spoke with the Manor ISD Director of Fine Arts, Dr. Bethany Logan, who shared:

 “The impact of our programs has resulted in partners such as Austin Classical Guitar to not only invest in our talented scholars, but also help MISD provide opportunities to students. Our community recognizes the importance and necessity that the Fine Arts bring to our scholars’ education, and as a result our programs are thriving!”

We also spoke with the guitar program director of Decker Middle School, Victor Longoria, who was able to shed some light on his musical and cultural background that he says helps him to relate with his students and community.

“I started at a young age with Norteño music through my grandfather’s group ‘Los Leones del Norte.’ I then branched out to other genres and found myself wanting to study the guitar. I studied at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where I focused on classical and flamenco guitar.”

Victor also shared his ability to connect with his students through their cultures and interests.

“The students and families in Manor have a special connection to the guitar because of the instrument’s connection to many cultures around the globe. I make connections with my students by asking them engaging questions about their interests, and try to implement that in class by playing them their favorite songs or movie sound-tracks on the guitar. I also speak Spanish fluently which helps comfort my Spanish speaking students.”

In light of COVID-19, Victor shared his adjustments to virtual music education.

“We are focusing on Social and Emotional learning since we are currently fully online. Thanks to the support of ACG and Manor ISD we got new guitars for each of the students to have in their homes. For repertoire and instruction, we use ACG’s Guitar Curriculum. We also teach our students music theory and use apps that are easy for the students to learn to tune their guitars for virtual guitar class.”

Decker Middle School currently has an astonishing 145 students enrolled in the guitar program. Manor ISD is also beginning their first high school program, and 90 students are already enrolled. The work being done to expand the fine arts community by Manor ISD is incredibly inspiring, and we are so grateful to be a part of it. 

Dr. Logan, Mr. Longoria, and the students and parents of Manor ISD show us that, despite the current pandemic situation, we can continue to grow and achieve as musicians, artists, and human beings. 

We are especially grateful to the Applied Materials Foundation, who for years has generously supported our work in Manor ISD.


National Teacher Summit: The "New Normal"

ACG turns 30 this year! In celebration, one of our generous supporters is matching every gift up to $50,000 between now and our opening concert with maestro Pepe Romero on September 26th! Make a gift today.

Adjusting to the “new normal” with COVID-19 has been a whirlwind as we navigate different approaches to exist and be productive in our new socially-distanced reality. As musicians and music educators, it’s tricky to grasp how to make a hands-on artistic and education process effective virtually. Our staff has collaborated with educators around the globe to share creative solutions to be successful despite these circumstances.

This summer we held our National Teacher Summit via Zoom and Canvas, online platforms that schools commonly use for interactive teaching. We held the Summit to introduce the technology, but also as a way of putting the participants in the seats of their students. Through these interactive lessons, they were able to experience first-hand how online music education could work in these unusual circumstances.

After the Summit, we had the opportunity to speak with some of the educators that participated. Michael Kagan, a high school teacher in Kentucky, expressed a sense of relief for the upcoming school year after attending.


“It’s important that I find meaningful ways for students to collaborate with one another. In the spring, I was happy that my students were able to focus on solo literature and etudes, but it was a little insular. Participating in the Summit affirmed my commitment to make ensemble playing work. Now I’m finding an opportunity to teach my kids how to use recording software: how to take someone else’s track, drop it in, and play along to contribute to a multi-track.”


Steven Sabet, a high school teacher from New Jersey, was grateful that the Summit was free.


“I imagine some teachers lost their jobs, so a free professional development opportunity would be needed. I signed up because it gave us resources to use during the pandemic, and showed us different techniques to make remote teaching and learning work. I learned a lot, and got to meet and share ideas with teachers from around the country.”


Many of the other teachers we spoke with had similar experiences and responses. The most common reaction was recognizing their position as a student during the training.

“The most helpful sessions were those in which the instructors used zoom as they would with their students. It was fabulous to see modeling, and very enlightening to take on the role of a student and complete assignments in the form of small tasks delivered in a personable video. Doing it myself gave me a better understanding of what I may ask my students to do, as well as building my confidence for providing personalized content during remote teaching.”


Despite the challenges presented to us by this pandemic, we are looking forward to making music with teachers and students near and far this fall. The courage, imagination and dedication we’ve seen both from young people, and from the professionals we’re working with, is truly inspiring. We can’t wait to share the results in the months to come!


“It was a truly beautiful experience to share and learn from one another. The ACG staff created a warm, inclusive culture for all the participants - there were orchestra and band teachers, guitar virtuosos, nationally acclaimed conductors, and everyone in between. We all came to grow and learn how to better serve our students.”

-Michael Kagan


Where are they now?

Our greatest joy at ACG Education is connecting with students and teachers over long periods of time. We make music together, but even more important are the powerful friendships that develop.

This summer Angelica Campbell, a former student of ours from Crockett High School who is now a junior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in music, caught up with a few of our alumni and asked "Where are you now?”

We hope you enjoy reading their answers as much as we do!

2019-2020 budget for ACG Education: $593,141. Contact us for ways to get involved.

Rey Rodriguez Jr

Like many, music has always been a part of my life. It helped connect me to the ones I love. I remember growing up listening to jazz with my dad. I would love to see his face light up as Stan Getz or Wes Montgomery played on the radio. In a special kind of way, this is where I first fell in love with music. Even when signing up for classes in my first year of middle school, I wanted to become a jazz musician. Although that didn’t exactly pan out as planned, I still stumbled across an even better passion, Classical Guitar.

Although the Guitar hasn’t always been a part of my life like music has, It has brought me so many opportunities and even an entire new family. I have had amazing teachers, mentors, and made amazing friends. Music has given me so many happy experiences.It has even given me a future to look forward to. In August of this year I get to attend UT and study Classical Guitar. I am so grateful for what Music and Guitar has brought me, and I can’t wait to see where they will take me.


Saul Hernandez

I can say with a lot of certainty that music has shaped my life in a tremendously positive way. In my life, the act of creating music has been a very empowering process. During my teenage years when many aspects of my life were in disarray, I was able to enter a classroom and create harmony. During this time when I felt lost, I was able to find a home in the notes and rhythms of my instrument. Upon participating in guitar classes in high school, I was able to join an environment where I felt encouraged and supported. Music has allowed me to join an empowering culture where everyone is passionate about learning and growing together. 

This fall I will be entering my first year of teaching classical guitar in the classroom. As I reflect on all my past experiences, I only hope that I can positively influence the lives of my students in the same way that my mentors and teachers have influenced my own life. I hope that I can teach my students that it is okay to be unapologetically passionate about something that you love. I hope that I can encourage my students to always to create, learn, and grow. I am optimistic that, through an education in the arts, my students will obtain the tools and knowledge to be successful - wherever the future may take them.


Javier Saucedo

Music has been a part of my life since childhood; my dad was in a family band with his brothers since the late 60’s. Ever since I could remember I always wanted to be a musician, especially a guitarist. Like many other musicians, it has given me a sense of identity, opened many doors, as well as many amazing opportunities. I hope that the love I have for music, guitar, and for the ACG community will transcend through my teaching and influence my students to give back to their communities in the future. 

After receiving my degree at Texas State University, where I studied Classical Guitar Performance, I started working under contract with Austin Classical Guitar for their education outreach program. This led me to enlist in the alternative certification program called Teach Quest. Now I have accepted a teaching position as one of the Guitar Directors at what is now Lively Middle School, formally known as Fulmore. 


Justice Phillips

Like any serious musician, music and specifically guitar has had a profound impact on my life in various manners. When I ponder the things music has done for me the first thought that comes to mind are the relationships in my life that have started because of music. The first guitar class I ever took was after school in sixth grade at Fulmore Middle School, and in that class I became friends with the person who would go on to be my closest friend throughout middle school. Also in my classroom classical guitar class that was ran by Jeremy Osborne from Austin Classical Guitar, I met many friends that I would know for many years. But, the most important relationship guitar has created for me is the one with my current closest friend that I have known now for close to a decade now and have lived with for over four years. I had the pleasure of meeting him at McCallum Fine Arts Academy, a school I didn’t live in the area for but attended for the sole purpose of pursuing classical guitar. There have been numerous relationships in my life that were created because of the opportunities I had with music and guitar. 

Music and guitar have also provided for me in many different ways other than the relationships they’ve helped me build. Obviously music enriches my spirit and playing guitar soothes my soul, but that much is true for every serious musician and their instrument of expertise. We all love music in a way that’s hard to convey in words, and you don’t have to be a musician to feel that. What music has done for me as a guitar player though is allow me an outlet to give back to my community, and do something to make people feel happier for a brief moment. When I play guitar for people and the music induces feelings of happiness, I feel a sense of purpose and satisfaction. That is why I feel so fortunate to be able to work for Austin Classical Guitar. Through ACG I am constantly finding myself having opportunities to use music and the work we do to give back to the community and spread joy to people of all backgrounds and ages. It’s extremely humbling, provides a feeling that is unmatched, and it’s something I wouldn’t have experienced without music and guitar. 


Alex Lew

Playing music has been a defining trait of my character ever since I can remember. However, my life was truly put on a trajectory once I found the classical guitar. It all started in middle school when I joined the guitar program and started taking private lessons. I have always been introverted and reserved, but when I play the guitar in front of an audience I feel a sense of self empowerment and confidence that I wouldn’t be able to feel otherwise. The staff at ACG allowed for this discovery, and the guitar allowed me to develop my personality to who I am today. Once my teacher suggested that I could get a degree in something that I genuinely enjoy, it was a no-brainer. My appreciation for music continues to grow, but especially after I realized that it’s not just about the notes on a page, but about how those notes are interpreted by the performer. I am now entering my last year at the University of Texas majoring in classical guitar performance and I have ACG to thank for my accomplishments.


Angelica Campbell

Music has always been a huge part of my life and community I grew up around. I first started learning how to play music in my early childhood. Mainly off the internet, but I joined music programs at my public school as soon as I could. I always felt the most connected to people when playing music with them. The friends I made in my guitar and mariachi classes are still my longest and strongest friendships. Growing up in a low income household, I wasn't able to have many opportunities to continue music outside of school. However, once I met the members of ACG in high school every opportunity I needed to succeed was laid out on the table for me. Through the help of ACG I was donated a guitar so that I could have my own to audition with for University, and I was also donated private guitar lessons to help me grow and succeed as a musician.

I am currently a junior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in classical guitar performance and I genuinely believe that I would not be where I am today if it weren't for the community, safety, acceptance, success, and room for growth that the music programs I was a part of brought to me. ACG was a huge part of bringing that together for myself and the friends I made throughout the programs and I couldn't be more grateful.