We dream of a world where music is here for everyone, connecting us, inspiring us, and bringing joy and meaning wherever it goes. We are having our Dream Big spring fund drive here at ACG and it’s because of our community and supporters that we are able to share stories like this. Click here to learn more about supporting ACG.


We are surrounded by greatness at ACG and we couldn’t be more grateful. This week we got to speak with an incredible student, Besa Carney. 

Besa is a Freshman at Bowie High School and is part of their Varsity guitar program. Besa began playing guitar in sixth grade at Gorzycki Middle School and was part of their Varsity ensemble all three years as well. 

This spring, Besa has been soaring here at ACG. She’s involved in our ACG Youth Orchestra, has opened up for An Tran as a soloist and for Duo Noire as part of the Austin Young Artist Quartet, and the quartet also performed for us at SXSW this year! Watch our Live in Austin: Young Artists series here

On top of Besa’s beautiful musicianship, she is a remarkable leader! This semester during the AISD Concert & Sight Reading competition, Besa’s guitar director had to abruptly leave Bowie, leaving them without guidance for the competition. Besa stepped in and graciously filled this role. Besa shared, 

“Two weeks before Concert & Sight Reading, our class found out abruptly that my guitar teacher had to leave Bowie due to medical reasons. Immediately I thought, “if a teacher can conduct, why not I try?” So we asked the class if they still wanted to go to the event and most said yes. We practiced every class period leading up to the contest, and it was such a joy for me to conduct my class. It’s like you get a feel of euphoria when the audience starts clapping and you know then, you did a great job.”

Not only did Besa lead the concert portion of the competition she led her class through the sight reading portion. During the sight reading portion, the students are expected to perform a piece of music they have never heard or seen before as accurately as possible, it’s tough stuff! Besa shared,

“When the sight reading portion came around, as a class we had never practiced sight reading, but I very much trusted their judgement and my own as well! Based on my past directors knowledge, I did exactly what they had done before for the first time, and we played through the song perfectly. When I found out we got Sweepstakes (all 1’s) I was overjoyed and I was so proud of my fellow classmates. At that moment I knew that there would never be an experience like this one ever again.” 

We asked Besa what moves her passion in music and she said, 

“When I play guitar, I feel sadness and anger leave my body. It is a very good form of therapy. I love when I play because I can forget about everything else that is going on around me. Music has been a part of my life for 11 years, so it is a piece of my heart. Music gives an immense sense of achievement and true satisfaction, especially conducting.” 

We are so proud of Besa and are grateful to be part of her journey. Here’s a video of Besa conducting her Bowie High School guitar class at Concert & Sight Reading. She did an amazing job!

Read another Dream Big story about composer, Justice Phillips, here.