Classical guitarist Matthew Hinsley named Texas Citizen of the Year

Earlier this month in Galveston, Matthew Hinsley, executive director of the Austin Classical Guitar, accepted the Texas Citizen of the Year Award from the National Association of Social Workers. Later that week at the AISD Performing Arts Center, Hinsley gave a brief pre-concert talk about what makes his nonprofit a nationwide model for arts-based community service.

Matthew Hinsley, executive director of Austin Classical Guitar, has been named Texas Citizen of the Year. Contributed by Austin Classical Guitar

We asked him to share his thoughts about the intersection of music and activities that many usually ascribe to the domain of social workers.

RELATED: Austin Classical Guitar honors the plight of refugees.

“In music school, in the most wonderful ways, I was taught to refine my musicianship,” Hinsley says. “Most everything at my core today — my work ethic, my sense of authenticity, my appreciation for individual strengths and weaknesses, my tenacity — has its roots in my relationship to guitar and the mentors who shaped me.”

His journey as a public servant through music began 21 years ago in Austin.

“In some ways — the obvious ones — that service grew directly out of my training,” Hinsley says. In other ways — perhaps less obvious — work in service stretched me from the very beginning and has never stopped. Because the myth for many young artists is that if you just get good enough at what you do, the world will come to you and watch you do it. But that notion is rooted in fallacy — because it is rooted in a model of the universe with oneself at the center. And that is not how the universe works.”

He believes that, as a public servant, he most constantly look at his community and ask who is being served and how can they be served better?

“It demands flexibility in every aspect,” he says. “It has led us to realizations that music can heal and engage so many people in such profound ways — but not perhaps the ways we thought we knew. So if it’s developing classroom-based systems for guitar education, or a Braille-adapted curriculum for students at Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, or the Lullaby Project at Travis County Jail, or musical puppet shows for kids in Austin Public Library branches — we live and flourish in this irony that while the world may not revolve around that which we have, it most certainly can interact in beautiful and mysterious ways with that which we can be.”

So an award from the National Association of Social Workers makes some special sense.

“It represents a vote of confidence that we have at least begun to leverage the great art we are so fortunate to have roots in, toward something that is reaching diverse people in unexpected ways,” Hinsley says. “What excites me most, is that each day when something new happens, we are made aware of just how many more opportunities for meaningful connection there are yet to explore.”

 

Austin dancer Kele Roberson heads to the Royal Ballet

Kele Roberson, who studied at Austin’s Dance Institute and the  Austin School for the Performing and Visual Arts, deferred a $25,000 scholarship to the Juilliard School in order to join the Royal Ballet School in London. This program funnels some dancers into one of the top ballet companies in the world and is quite an opportunity for Roberson, who gave an interview on the subject to Jennifer Stahl for Dance Magazine.

Austin’s Kele Roberson. Contributed by Dance Magazine

“I only had to watch a deep plié before writing down a 10 out of 10 on his score sheet and scribbling a giant star next to his name,” Stahl says of Roberson’s audition for the New York City Dance Alliance‘s college scholarship program. “Before he even had a chance to show off his incredible lines, I was mesmerized by his nuanced grace in even the simplest of movements.”

Roberson, who started studying ballet at age 11 and completed a summer program with the Royal Ballet, still might attend Juilliard later.

“As of right now, that’s the plan. Juilliard’s always been a dream,” he told Stahl “I graduated a year ahead (I’m still 17) so I decided to take this year at The Royal to perfect what I can in terms of technique, and hope to audition for Juilliard next year…”

News of his coup spread quickly on social media.

“What a phenomenal artist already!” says dancer Andrea Williams. “I’m going to miss seeing him dance everyday but I’m so glad he’s going to the Royal Ballet!”

Zack Ingram wins $15K Tito’s Prize from Big Medium

Sculptor and printmaker Zack Ingram is the winner of the inaugural Tito’s Prize, which comes with $15,000 cash and a solo exhibition at the Big Medium Gallery from Oct. 27 through Dec. 16. He’ll also figure prominently during the East Austin Studio Tour on Nov. 11-12, 18-19.

Sculptor and printmaker Zack Ingram. Contributed

The Prize, given by Big Medium, is made possible by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which funds all sorts of cool stuff around town.

“I’m terribly grateful for the Tito’s Prize and the luxury of time and space it will provide me to continue the momentum I have as an Austin based artist,” Ingram says. “How do I secure a studio space, especially in a city that’s becoming increasingly unaffordable for artists? How do I make time to visit said studio while balancing a work schedule, to travel, to buy materials? The Tito’s Prize helps answer several of these concerns I’ve had.”

UPDATE: The initial post misspelled Zack Ingram’s first name.