Our summer series closes Saturday with two simply stunning artists, Mak Grgic and Martin Chalifour, performing a recital of amazing music for violin and guitar.

Carl Caricari and Margaret Murray Miller are our sponsors for the evening. Carl has been on our Board of Directors for six years, serving during that time as – among other things – chair of our education committee and chair of our nominating and governance committee. Margaret has been deeply involved in ACG also, most recently as our lead volunteer for the Lullaby Project which we carried out in collaboration with Carnegie Hall this past spring.

Carl & Margaret

So when they offered to sponsor Saturday night’s concert, I wanted to learn and share just a bit more about what has driven their passion for ACG and our mission of community service through music.

Matthew Hinsley: What do you love about live performances with ACG?

Carl Caricari: One of the most enjoyable parts of live performances is the respect the audience has for the artistry of the performer. A classical guitar concert audience is characterized by a lack of noise, coughing, and movement. Another aspect we find enjoyable is the connection the performers make with the audience. They usually give insight about the piece they are about to perform, describing not only what the composer was intending, but how they interpret the work. We always come away from a performance feeling enriched by the experience.

Margaret Murray Miller: Carl and I prefer to sit in the side seats of the concert hall. We always arrive early enough to attend the student portion of the evening. It is such a pleasure to view the concentration and rapture of the audience while we are all enveloped by the artist. When leaving a concert, last year, I overheard a young couple: “Thanks for texting me about this concert, this is the coolest guitar music I’ve ever heard.” And, Carl and I have become “fans” of some of these student artists, attending their recitals when we can.

MH: Carl, you’ve chaired our Education committee, Margaret, you were deeply involved with our Lullaby project. What strikes you about ACG community service?

CC: The extent of the community outreach aspect of ACG sets it apart in my mind from most fine art institutions. The effect of the education program in the Austin schools is a major contributor to the life of the children participating in the program. Ninety-percent of the participants in the school guitar programs would not be in any music program if ACG did not exist. It gives them an appreciation of great music while creating for them a sense of accomplishment. They are playing great music almost immediately with the innovative approach ACG has brought to music teaching.

MMM: I was honored to be involved in the Lullaby Project, initiated by Carnegie Hall, this spring. A small community of divergent people came together and created musical magic in less than a week. Two mothers from Any Baby Can joined local musicians in creating Lullabies for their children, one in English and one in Spanish. In the recording studio one mother told me, “We are all the same here.” She fashioned a phrase, “You are so bright, you are my light” for her children. We at ACG feel this way about all of the students in our education programs!

MH: What do wish everyone knew about ACG?

CC: It is much more that a provider of concert music. ACG is a leader of innovation bringing many different ways to enjoy music with Classical Cactus, the Salon series concerts in private homes, FlamencoAustin, collaborations from the Austin Symphony and Conspirare.

MMM: On our second date, six years ago, Carl asked me to an ACG concert. Well, it was a wonderful evening…the artist and Carl, of course! Ever since then, classical guitar has been part of our daily lives. We have met terrific people that we might not have crossed paths with. Classical guitar bring together an amazing variety of people. Standing in the lobby during intermission is rubbing elbows with a large part of Austin’s far ranging cultural community.

MH: Margaret, you volunteer for Dress For Success, I’d love to hear more about their work – or any other charities you’re passionate about here in Austin.

MMM: Thank you for asking, Matt. Dress For Success Austin is dear to my heart. Six years ago I began volunteering at our affiliate on Tillery Street in East Austin. DFSA is a non-profit and part of the worldwide organization Dress For Success.

Women are sent to us from about eighty agencies in our community. Their challenges include domestic abuse, homelessness, lack of education, mental illness, wounded veterans, blindness, and deafness to select a few. We initially spend time dressing them in a beautiful, professional outfit, including the suit, shoes, handbag, jewelry, and cosmetics.

Often, our clients are touched and somewhat overwhelmed. There can be hugging and tears shared. Special attention is often lacking in their lives. All of our items are donated. We are beholden to the wonderful people who decide to drop by after cleaning out their closets. And, especially to those who have lost a loved one, and manage to think of DFSA.

We also offer career counseling, follow up programs such as financial literacy. We want to remain in these women’s lives, as they help themselves, then each other, and, amazingly when some of them become DFSA volunteers themselves!