Over the next month we will be sharing a series of beautiful and inspirational stories about ACG community and education projects that happened in the spring! If you’re curious to see more of our past projects please check out our ACG Productions page and our previous Blogs!

This blog is part of a two part series on our youth and community ensembles. Read the first part here. 

This year brought us many unanticipated gifts! One being our ability to expand our community ensemble reach beyond Austin and another being our opportunity to connect with and commission local artists more consistently. 

We recently commissioned four local composers, Justice Phillips, Matthew Lyons, Cassie Shankman, and Alan Retamozo, to write a piece for the ACG Youth Camerata, the ACG Youth Orchestra and two community ensembles. 

We had the exciting opportunity to speak with Justice a little more about his composition Winter to Spring. Justice composed this beautiful piece for the ACG Youth Camerata during the Texas winter storm in February. Justice shared, 

“I remember walking my dog, Luna, during the storm, and the harmonies at the beginning really captured how I felt in that icy environment. The piece moves and transitions throughout until finally at the end, spring arrives. When I first heard the performance the ACGYC did of the piece, I was more blown away by the level at which they play than I was about the piece itself honestly. It’s crazy to me to hear a virtual ensemble of young people playing that beautifully.”

Justice began his path as a composer during his Freshman year of college when he broke a finger playing basketball. He wasn’t able to play his guitar so he dove into composing and became the talented young composer he is today! Justice shared a little about his process in composing,  

“Typically when I am writing a new piece, I create a ‘skeleton’ of the piece initially, then I improvise based on the skeleton with the guitar and add/subtract things as I see fit. While I was improvising Winter to Spring, I had the icy weather in my mind.”

We are so grateful to have Justice on our team! He creates constant beauty and we are so thrilled to watch it unfold. Justice shared about more beautiful things he has done this year, 

“I had the fortune of writing a piece for my old middle school Lively. Their guitar program and Orchestra played a piece of mine together, and their dance program danced to it. It was gorgeous and I was very honored to be a part of it. I also was commissioned by the Sans Duo to write a piece for Guitar and Saxophone that I titled Luna after my dog. For our GIVE project, I wrote a guitar solo for my best friend Alex Lew titled “Soni Time” named after his dog Sonata, and I’m currently working on a commission for the Austin Guitar Quartet!”

The abundance of beauty and creativity in our world leaves us speechless at times. We are so grateful for our community and cannot wait to continue thriving together in our bounty of magnificence!