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“Music is a story itself: the instruments are the characters and the notes are the dialogue.” – Todd Waldron, ACG Volunteer

Todd with Badi Assad

Todd Waldron, a native of Indiana, came to Austin in 1993 excited for a new adventure with his band, The Cleavers. The band was formed at West Texas A&M, where Todd studied classical guitar and voice. Upon arriving in Austin, Todd found a job teaching music lessons at a performing arts school, but soon realized teaching was not right for him. The band eventually fizzled out too, but Todd’s natural aptitude for working with computers spurred him on a journey into the IT world, and his discovery of a passion for the art and science of capturing beauty through audio and video production. Today Todd works for St. David’s Foundation as their Director of IT, and he uses his technical skills to assist Austin Classical Guitar with various film and recording projects.

After hearing Steve Kostelnik perform on John Aielli’s KUTX radio show in 1996, Todd was inspired to pick up the classical guitar again, and began studying with Dr. Klondike Steadman. Dr. Steadman was president of what was then known as the “Austin Classical Guitar Society,” and Todd would get together to play music with the small group of enthusiasts who were members. He even remembers his first time volunteering for the organization in 2000, recording a concert to raise funds to bring Cuban guitarist Manuel Barrueco to Austin.

Over the years that followed, Todd remained involved with ACG, volunteering and playing in ensembles, and watching the organization grow to be the largest non-profit of its kind in the United States.

In what way has music touched your life?

“Music is my happy place, it’s my sanctuary. My senior year of high school, Odessa College offered classical guitar for college credit. That led to an audition at West Texas A&M, which led to the band, which led to Austin, which led to film. These were all building blocks that instilled in me a deep passion for music and sound.”

What have you enjoyed most about volunteering with ACG?

“I think the friendships and relationships that I’ve made, and networking and connecting with new people. I learned a ton on the technical side backstage, dealing with sound and recording. I think the mission of ACG is amazing. When I see what these high school – and junior high and elementary – kids are doing, it blows me away. They are getting a boost to start programming their brains musically at such an early age. I did not have that kind of mentorship or support at that age; I didn’t have the community. It was only the last few years of high school that my parents understood how serious I was about [music]. Austin is a city rich in creativity, and ACG is an integral part.”

Are there any special memories, people, or events you want to highlight?

Todd, Andrew York, Joseph V. Williams II

“Top of the list was Berta Rojas in 2016. She had recently gone through chemotherapy, and [Austin] was her first performance back. She was very moved by that show. In our short interaction, she was really lovely and friendly, and I felt her passion. I think after that, [a special memory was] just being able to sit and talk with legends like Pepe Romero and Andrew York and pick their brains. Also, the feeling I get walking into the PAC when we’re all there for a show is so exciting. It keeps me fired up and active in my creative space.”

What are your impressions of ACG as an arts organization and the services given to the community?

“As an arts organization, ACG is very strong and does an amazing job engaging and inspiring the community. The thing that touches my heart the most is ACG’s work at Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center. These kids are struggling so much in their lives, and art and creativity gives them something to be present for and to protect. [They deal with] a lot of darkness, and so for them to be sitting in a room, making music with each other … I see them connecting with something that’s healthy and positive. It’s a way out: this will show them, Yes, you can do it.”