I played a guitar today with Mesquite back and sides. 

Our adult ensembles and our youth orchestra met for the first time. 25 kids with parents and siblings, along with our adult players, meant the reception was full and bustling – with guitar cases lining the walls and snacks disappearing rapidly from the tables!

A young man from Istanbul came just to say goodbye.  He’s been in Austin for three years doing a bio-med post-doc at UT and joined our Community Guitarists shortly after he arrived.  He’s going home now, and he wanted everyone to know how much he’ll miss making music with the group.

I met the father of a young man who began playing guitar at one of our middle schools with our Assistant Director of Education Jeremy Osborne.  His son enjoyed it so much he chose McCallum Fine Arts Academy for guitar (he’s now a junior), and signed up for Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra when he heard about it this year.

Joe Williams began today’s youth orchestra rehearsal focusing on tone, dynamics and unity.  He asked for extreme soft, and perfect togetherness.  He asked for crescendo first with words, and then only by conducting.  The ensemble was instantly connected to him and to each other in pursuit of refinement, all before they even started the Albeniz and Vivaldi on today’s schedule. 

Each student got a card with either a guitarist’s name or a matching fun fact when they walked into the reception.  The idea was they’d find their match, learn something about their partner, and do a quick intro to the group.

One student has visited 3 countries.  Another has been to all 50 states! 

I was helping find matches, and one boy told me he’d hoped the cards would have more music theory facts, or information on scales and modes on them.  He didn’t find his match and ended up introducing himself.  His fun fact?  “I help out at my school as a teaching assistant for the guitar classes.”

Two girls are in the group from the same school.  Their classroom teacher encouraged them to audition.  They got in, and today, Sunday, that amazing teacher drove them to rehearsal herself so they could attend.

One of those girls has even been doing video interviews of some of our famous guest artists for FretBuzz magazine!  Here she is with Grammy winner Andrew York.  And the boy who’s been to fifty states? He wrote a Fretbuzz article too

Two women came together.  Both have had guitar in their lives for decades.  Laura I’ve known from the ensemble for years – I’d never met her friend Ginny.  It turns out that it was a guitar – and a Bach Bouree on a music stand – at Ginny’s house several years back that had gotten Laura really playing again.  And now it was her turn to return the favor, by bringing Ginny today to join the group.

Laura spent the last year or so building her first guitar.  Selecting, cutting and molding the wood, gluing, clamping, finishing – and many things I’m sure I can’t even imagine.  She brought it today, and showed it to me – which is how I got to play a guitar with Mesquite back and sides!  It plays beautifully.

“I’d like to donate that guitar to your program,” she said. “Do you think it’s good enough, that a young student in one of your schools might be able to use it?”

And it struck me.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Isn’t that how our precious culture is passed along and shared?  Isn’t it people coming together with their time, their energy, their knowledge, their generosity, their inquisitiveness… their passion?

I believe it is.  And it was a beautiful thing to witness this afternoon.