I met Eric Pearson in Columbus, Georgia this past June at the Guitar Foundation of America International Convention and Competition – the 2011 version of the giant international festival we hosted at the Long Center in June 2010 (watch the phenomenal KLRU TV Special on our event online now)!

It was one of those rare meetings when you really “click” with someone.  Eric had heard a lot about Austin and ACGS.  He’s a guitarist and teacher, a New York State-Certified music educator, and a former nonprofit arts administrator… We had a lot to talk about!

It was a few short weeks later, back in Austin, that the opportunity arose for us to add a new member to our team here at ACGS.  We needed someone to direct our Community Guitarists Program, and also to help meet the rapidly rising demand in local schools for our educational services.  To make a relatively short story even shorter, I thought of Eric, called him, and he was here and working with us by the third week of August!

This Sunday evening (12/4) at 6PM under Eric’s direction, the ACGS Community Guitar Ensembles will give their Holiday Recital.  The free concert and reception will be at Trinity United Methodist Church (formerly Hyde Park UMC, 4001 Speedway).

For information, call us at 512-300-ACGS.  I hope to see everyone there!

I recently asked Eric to tell us a bit more about himself:


Matt Hinsley: Tell me about Eric the guitarist, when did you start, and what’s your favorite music?

Eric Pearson: I started playing like many do; playing electric and doing rock and blues styles.  I got my first guitar for my 15th birthday.  I started taking lessons that week and never turned back.  I got more and more into instrumental music and eventually added Jazz guitar before adding classical lessons.  I have always tried to maintain a balance between classical and contemporary music in my own playing.  I listen to artists from many different genres and my favorite are ones that synthesize aspects of one style or another in an interesting artistic way.

On the classical side, I like artists like Roland Dyens or William Kanengiser for their style and stage persona.  My favorite jazz/contemporary performer is Pat Metheny.

MH: How have you found Austin, ACGS, and working with the ensembles and schools so far?

EP: Austin is a great city for art and music.  I did my graduate studies in Ithaca, NY which is a culturally rich area, but it is a small community.  Austin just has so many resources as a large city that there is an incredible diversity in music and other activities going on.  It has been a pretty easy transition for that reason.  Being able to play guitar outside in the middle of November hasn’t hurt the transition either!

Austin Classical Guitar Society has been an amazing experience so far.  There have already been so many amazing concerts and opportunities for guitar.  I would be at all of the events and concerts even if I had nothing to do with the organization.

Working with the schools and ensembles has been a real treat.  A large part of my relocation to the area was to be a part of what is going on in the Austin area schools.  The guitar society is building something really special with the curricular guitar ensembles here and I have been lucky to be a part of it.  I hear of more and more programs in the country that are working to emulate what we are doing.

MH: What’s in store for the spring?

EP: We’re putting on the annual Guitars Galore Ensemble Festival on April 28.  This event will feature the Community Guitars Ensembles as well as several school and community guitar ensembles from around the region.  We will have events all day and a final large ensemble performance before the Yamandú Costa concert that night.  We will also be premiering the winning entry of the Guitar Ensemble Composition Competition for Texas-based composers that evening.

MH: Any new visions we should know about?

EP: I hope to get more opportunities and events organized for both student aged players and adults in the community in the upcoming year.  I also want to get the word out about the wonderful opportunities that are already happening at the guitar society.

MH: How can folks get involved in Guitars Galore or in your ensembles – who is eligible?

EP: Any intermediate ensembles (2 or more guitars) are welcome to be a part of the ensemble festival and can check the ACGS website for registration details.

Local guitarists that are interested in year-round ensemble playing should consider registering for one of the Community Guitarists Ensembles this Spring.  In addition to the ensemble festival music, we will be working on arrangements and original commissions from a wide range of styles and periods.  Info is online!

MH: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

EP: Just that everyone should stay up to date on the great classical guitar events this year, and mark your calendars!  ACGS is doing some great work in promoting and developing the art of classical guitar, and the community is really fortunate to have such talent coming through on a regular basis.