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.


Below is a beautiful letter from graduating senior and ACG Youth Orchestra member, Ayame Castel.

In addition to being a great young guitarist, Ayame is an extraordinary competitive athlete, and she’ll be attending the highly competitive US Naval Academy this fall. We couldn’t be more excited for her, and thankful for our time together. 


Dear Austin Classical Guitar, 

I can’t believe that it has been five years since I first joined the ACG Youth Orchestra (ACGYO). I’m grateful to look back on the many thrilling experiences over the years that have truly changed me as a musician and as a person. I can’t thank ACG and ACGYO Director, Joe Williams, enough for the many distinct and fulfilling performances in churches, gardens, concert halls, and even movie theaters. 

I think the most incredible experience I’ve had as part of the ACGYO was when we had the privilege to tour San Francisco and play in many different venues with musicians of all ages. Not only did we share our music, we also got to explore the culture and landscape of San Francisco such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Muir Woods! Although the past two years have been a challenge, and that is an understatement for many of us, we were still able to come together and perform virtually until finally in person again. 

I wouldn’t have experienced what it’s like composing for a large guitar orchestra if it weren’t for ACG and Clarice Assad coming together and making it possible for us. I am so grateful that we were able to perform our composition with Clarice, Mosaic Variations, in person and then finish the season with performing Austin Pictures by Joe Williams in person as part of a huge guitar orchestra. 

I would 100% do it all over again for the experiences, the people, and to flex our guitar skills and music to the world. ACGYO has inspired me to take advantage of new opportunities and to connect and make experiences with many people. 


Thank you ACG!

Ayame Castel


We asked ACG Artistic Director, Joe Williams, for his thoughts after reading this wonderful letter form Ayame, and here’s what he had to say.

This letter takes me back to Ayame’s first rehearsal. She was there because her teacher, Stephen Krishnan, encouraged she try out. I am so proud of her and the journey she had with us. Ayame transformed from being unsure about the whole thing to being a rock. She became someone I always knew I could count on to lead or support – whatever the group needed. More than anything, it was fun to see her enjoy making music. 

Ayame is starting a new journey now as a young adult and as a student in the U.S. Naval Academy. I believe the music she has made with the ACGYO will serve her for years to come and I’m so grateful she shared her presence with us. – Joe Williams