At ACG we often think of special moments as gifts. This holiday season, we’d like to share some of these gifts with you in a series we’re calling Beautiful Gifts.


Beautiful Gift #1

As we look forward to a beautiful concert this weekend, we start to dream of the next semester in our community ensembles and reflect on the magical experiences we’ve had in these programs. 

“The ACG ensemble is literally one of the reasons we moved to Austin.” Chamber Ensemble member Alexina Derkaz told us just yesterday. She and the rest of the group have been working hard toward Sunday’s performance.

“Guitar was a huge part of my childhood up through college, but fell to the wayside until I found ACG. Now I get to play new and exciting music alongside exceptional musicians.  THE ELEMENTS performance last spring was a heart-pounding, grandiose, and joyful experience: the huge audience, how hard we worked, the theatricality of the piece…our preparation for our new piece, PRESENCE, is already filled with anticipation and excitement. Being in the rehearsals just feels soalive.I know that I’ve landed somewhere special.”

We had the opportunity to speak with Director of Community Education, Tony Mariano, about what makes these ensembles so special. 

Tony expresses, “Folks who join our ensembles can look forward to building a close community of amazing people here in Austin, Texas. We meet weekly to learn and rehearse incredible music, preparing for performances throughout our community. Together, we extend our art form to share the pure joy of music making with everyone around us.” 

Ensembles hold space for deep connections between our members and with music itself. It gives a safe space to collaborate, communicate, and trust one another in a significant way as we work towards a common goal of creating something beautiful and powerful to share with others. 

Tony shares, “The connections people make in these ensembles are deep and energizing to see. There is challenge, determination, so much success and celebration, and the relationships that are made under those conditions are wonderful to be a part of.

I enjoy seeing people reach past where they thought they could ever make music. I love seeing people who love music push themselves to be true artists. And more than anything, I love the smiles on everyone’s faces, young and old, when they’ve just finished a performance, once they realize “wow… I did it!”. Those moments will stick with me forever. 

Ensembles are the places where I found the most joy in my music making. I began studying guitar in an ensemble, and every place music has brought me ever since I’ve searched for opportunities to make music with others. To connect with others on a deeply expressive and musical level is energizing in a way that I don’t experience many other places. And I’m so deeply grateful for those opportunities.”

We’re excited to share an opportunity opening up for anyone interested in joining one of these ensembles.

In late January, we will be starting up a South Austin ensemble! If you are interested in interviewing for a spot or would like to learn more about it, just email us at [email protected] 

Let’s create beautiful music together!

Learn more about our Classes & Ensembles here.