Backstory about the Founding of Austin Classical Guitar
Now that the guitar studio is rounding to the end of its 31st year, after a moment of introspection
I thought it might be time to document the history of the Austin Classical Guitar formerly known as
the Austin Guitar Society. When Carolyn and I moved to Austin in August 1989, my main purpose was
establishing the classical guitar performance studio at UT where none had existed before. As part of my plan,
I knew that having a local guitar community not only involved guitarists in the performance studio but also
a local group to bringing in the best professional classical guitarists.
It didn’t hurt that most of the available guitarists were (and still) are my friends and colleagues. I knew
they would come if I asked them. Then as interest and local support grew – with all my heart I believed
a guitar society would grow and attract the highest tier of professional classical guitarists to play and
teach my students.
Within a few months I was able to connect with the leaders of the small local guitar community. Once we connected
I shared with them the vision of a society with a mission to bring in the best classical guitarists on the existing
budget to not only support the new classical guitar studio but also Austin’s classical music scene.
These types of classical guitar societies in other major cities had been founded and organized formally into
successfully performance organizations. In a matter of a few weeks they graciously acceded to me the role of
a CEO to provide the guidance and leadership as they provided the operational and fundraising aspects.
I would reach out to classical guitarists who would perform a public concert followed the next day with a
masterclass for my students. Thus, the Austin Classical Guitar was started. Founded in my living room.
Yes, I traded on my friendships with some of finest classical guitarists
who would be inspirational to my students and the community and
build an audience. They weren’t offered their standard fee
but I would do everything I could to help them secure
additional performances in the area or try to coordinate
Austin performance dates that coincided with their tour
Some of the earliest performers were Michael
Chapdelaine, Ben Verdery, and Steve Robinson.
They performed, taught a masterclass and we had
a chance to hang out as friend. There were a few
concerts per season as budgets made possible.
Society meetings were held in our living room in the evening. Frank LaMonica, one of the three original organizers, often personally financed the earliest concerts. I was clear that with the time I had I would guide them, make the asks of the artists, provide a performance location on UT’s campus and they had to do everything else. They did.
The concert performances started small and slowly both the studio grew as well as the interest in the Austin community in classical guitar blossomed.
As the quality of the studio grew, the responsibilities did as well. At some point, due to room scheduling the University gave notice that they could no longer provide a performance home to the Society.With every year, both the studio and the society grew and attracted more students, bigger classical guitar artists and Austin’s classical guitar audience.
It astounds me that the performance society through the love of all things classical guitar, has branched out into school outreach and social program bringing community through the classical guitar. It is a reminder of the power of small things powered by passion have great lasting power and influence.It is truly humbling to see all that has happened since getting here. What will the next 31 years bring, can’t wait to see.
“…he [Holzman] displayed a command of his instrument that can only be described as masterful! …Everything he touched came across with his bright vivid tone, controlled warmth, and easy grace in performance” – The Toronto Star
“…polished and quite dazzling.” – The New York Times
“…brilliant!” – De Gelderlander, Holland
Mr. Holzman’s recordings for the Naxos label have been critically acclaimed. The first two are discs of the music of Fernando Sor and have been called “…irresistible” by Gramophone Magazine. Discs three and four contain the music of Manuel Ponce. Of the Sonata for Guitar and Harpsichord on Ponce Volume II Classical Guitar Magazine (England) says “It’s a fine and substantial work and here it receives the finest recording yet…” Of his Naxos release, The Venezuelan Waltzes of Antonio Lauro, the American Record Guide had this to say: “The landmark recording was David Russell’s 1980 LP. Now, 20 years later, comes another masterly recording by Adam Holzman: in many ways it raises the benchmark still further.” His Naxos release Bardenklange, Opus 13, of Johann Kaspar Mertz is considered a seminal recording and has been praised by critics around the world. His recording debut, on HRH Records, was a collection of rarely or never before recorded selections. According to The American Record Guide this performance is “…so flawless he makes it all sound easy.” His recordings are all featured on the Adam Holzman channel on Pandora.
Adam Holzman has been a D’Addario artist since 1983.
Past honors and awards include: 1992-1994 Mr. Holzman held the title of “Maestro Extraordinario” given by the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Mexico, where he served as artist-in-residence. He was awarded the Ernst von Dohnanyi Prize for Outstanding Achievement from Florida State University and is The Parker C. Fielder Regents Professor in Music at the University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Holzman’s performance studies were with Bruce Holzman, Albert Valdes Blain, Eliot Fisk and Oscar Ghiglia. He was chosen twice chosen to perform in the historic Master classes of the legendary Andres Segovia.