Finding Serenity on a Musical Afternoon
by Rita Watson
December 13, 2016
Music brings us to a reflective and peaceful dimension. During these turbulent times of concerns about climate change and election hacking, we need moments of serenity. In a concert with classical guitarist and composer Tye Austin and the Back Bay String Quartet, which he founded, we drifted into reverie. The sounds of classical guitar floated in harmony with the strings.
We seldom hear the classical guitar in concert with string quartets, chamber groups, or symphonic orchestras because of the lack of repetoire. As such, the afternoon event at the Boston Athenaeum, “The Bridge Between the Strings,” was distinctive.
Performing solo and with the string quartet, Tye Austin led us into a musical embrace. One could almost see the notes drifting through the Athenaeum, over the ivy boughs laced with white lights and onto the gallery of books and paintings.
The program itself did not require Christmas carols to set the tone for this season of gratitude and merrymaking. Music selections ranged from Francisco Tarrega (1852 -1909) to Luis Bonfa (1922 -2001) and Tye Austin’s “Suite of Meditations.”
When we make the time to absorb music we are giving ourselves a gift. As Kristin Neff, Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, tells us, “More so than self-esteem, the nurturing quality of self-compassion allows us to flourish, to appreciate the beauty and richness of life, even in hard times. When we soothe our agitated minds with self-compassion, we’re better able to notice what’s right as well as what’s wrong, so that we can orient ourselves toward that which gives us joy.” /Why Self-Compassion Trumps Self-Esteem
The Back Bay String Quartet
Tye Austin was the first place winner in the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition and was invited to makes his solo-debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England on December 14, 2016. He graduated from the New England Conservatory with his Master of Music degree under the tutelage of legendary maestro Eliot Fisk (the last student of Andres Segovia). He plays a customized 2015 Steve Connor Guitar from Cape Cod, MA.
Members of the string quartet include: Boston-based violinist Daniel Cho is a recent graduate of the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Joanna Kurkowicz, concertmaster of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Violist Leonid Plashinov-Johnson has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral member in over fifteen countries and in venues. Cellist Peiyao Guo was a recipient of the award given by Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Foundation during his studies in London. The work of the Boston String Quarted and Tye Austin is on YouTube.
Musical Afternoons and Exhibits
Concerts such as this one at the Athenaeum are open and welcoming to the public (www.BostonAthenaeum.org).There are a small number of privately funded libraries in the United States. However, today there are many lectures, exhibits, and musical events that non-members can enjoy. /Music and the Boston Athenaeum.
The current exhibit “Daniel Chester French: The Female Form Revealed” will be on display through February 19, 2017. It is co-curated by Dr. David B. Dearinger, Director of Exhibitions & Susan Morse Hilles Senior Curator of Paintings & Sculpture at the Boston Athenæum, and Donna Hassler, Director of Chesterwood and Administrator, Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
This exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by Dr. Dearinger and a checklist of the exhibition’s contents, as well as an on-line version of the installation.
Copyright 2016 Rita Watson (An academic member through Suffolk University, Department of English)
Local Guitarist Prepares for International Debut
by Tanner Stening
The Boston Guardian
December 2, 2016
En route to his international debut at London’s Royal Albert Hall, New England Conservatory graduate (NEC) Tye Austin will showcase his classical guitar talent on Friday, December 9 at The Guild of Boston Artists on Newbury Street.
Austin, 27, began his musical career at age 17, which for many classical musicians, he said, is unusually late in life. It was while watching a guitar performance at a music festival in his home town of Ashland, Oregon that he had what he described as an epiphany.
“It was a ringing conviction,” said Austin, who lives near Symphony Hall in the Fenway. “I instantaneously knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Having no background in music, and little support from his family, Austin embarked on his musical career before he even knew how to hold his instrument. Between working at a hostel and as a stagehand at the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival in his hometown, he paid his way to Southern Oregon University, where he was already auditing classes to learn guitar fundamentals.
“I knew I wanted to do something more creative,” Austin said. “Something that would give me the liberty to make my own schedule.”
Austin said he was drawn to the guitar because it is “one of the only instruments that you hold right against your heart.”
“You can feel it resonate with your own body,” he said. “I think that’s really special.”
Within three years of beginning college, Austin composed his first symphony and arranged a 50-student orchestra. Two years later, he won first prize in the American Protege International Strings competition, earning him a debut performance at Carnegie Hall.
Under the tutelage of virtuoso Eliot Fisk, and with funding from two private philanthropists, Austin graduated from NEC this past May with a master’s degree in music. His most recent first place finish in the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music competition has propelled him further onto the worldwide stage with a solo performance at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall slated for Wednesday, December 14.
“His story is fascinating,” said Bill Everett, gallery director at The Guild of Boston Artists. “To have come this far in a fairly short time, it’s really quite remarkable. He has quite an innate ability.”
While a career as a classical guitarist has granted Austin the freedom he desires, it has not come without difficulties.
“Guitarists are forced to be entrepreneurs,” he said. “We don’t really have a steady income, and we don’t have a lot of salary opportunities.”
The guitar, he said, has traditionally had “no part in orchestral music.” Part of his mission is to integrate the classical guitar into more modern venues — jazz clubs, cocktail lounges and fashion shows — in order to “reach a wider demographic than the one attending classical music concerts in formal concert halls.”
With this in mind, he created the Back Bay String Quartet, which will debut at the Boston Athenaeum next weekend. The work of arranging group performances, composing music and conducting, which he does alongside teaching, keeps him very busy, and has helped him acquire a business competency that he believes made everything possible.
Tomorrow Austin will be in New York City competing in the Forte International Music competition. He is also working on a solo album titled The Art of Guitar that he plans to release in the spring.
Visit http://www.tyeaustin.com for more information and concert bookings.
Local Musician Bound for London Debut
by Chris Lovett
Boston Neighborhood News
December 6, 2016
Check out Tye’s latest interview with Boston Neighborhood News promoting his upcoming concerts on December 9 at 8pm ($30/public) at the Guild of Boston Artists and on December 11 at 1pm ($35/public) at the Boston Athenaeum.
Tye Austin bids Ashland ‘Adieu’
by Ian Hand
Oregon’s Mail Tribune
July 1, 2014
This fall, Ashland classical guitarist Tye Austin will continue his musical education at Boston’s New England Conservatory, America’s oldest music school. The conservatory has an acceptance rate for graduate students of 26 percent and generally accepts three to five students into its guitar program each year. Austin’s entry into the prestigious school is all the more fascinating because he’s been playing his instrument for only six years.
“I got a really late start,” Austin says. “I first heard classical guitar in concert when I was 16, and I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I needed to learn how to master the instrument.”
Austin enrolled in Southern Oregon University’s music department in 2008 and began his formal study of the guitar
“There were definitely some roadblocks and hardships,” Austin says. “Sometimes you feel really frustrated with everything. But then it started to click. It’s truly my passion. Learning my instrument is not so much a task as it is a joyous wonder to explore and navigate.”
At NEC, Austin will study under Eliot Fisk, the last student of the famed Andres Segovia.
“Segovia’s like the godfather of modern classical guitar,” Austin says. “He brought the instrument to the concert stage and made it as reputable as the violin or piano.
“Being part of that musical lineage is an exciting experience. It’s like a rock guitarist studying with Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen.”
As a student of Fisk, Austin also will have the opportunity to study at the Mozarteum Conservatory in Salzburg, Austria, named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Before he heads east, Austin will perform a fseries of concerts. He will perform at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Show. He also will open for Grammy-winner Bela Fleck and the Britt Orchestra at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, in the Performance Garden at the Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville.
The main event for Austin’s Rogue Valley concerts will be his official farewell concert at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4, at Ashland Artworks, 291 Oak St., Ashland. Admission is $13, though Austin says no one will be turned away due to an inability to pay.
The program for the concert will feature Austin and a string quintet from the Rogue Valley Symphony — Aaron Moffatt (violin 1), Melissa Orr (violin 2), Morgan O’Shaughnessey (viola), Paul Shubat (cello) and Bruce McKern (double bass) — along with other musicians. Music will feature Austin’s arrangements of “Spanish Romance” and Carlos Gardel’s “Tango Por Una Cabeza.”
While Austin loves living in the Rogue Valley, he doesn’t see himself returning anytime soon.
“I was born here, so I’ll always have a special place for it,” Austin says. “But it’s time to venture internationally and establish myself. I might end up back here in my later years, but for now my sights are set on New York City, London and other parts of Europe.”
Young Guitarist heads to Carnegie Hall
by Joe Camarlinghi
February 28, 2013
Check out Tye’s interview/feature with NBC News promoting his Carnegie Hall debut after merely five years of formal guitar studies.
Live Session with guitarist, Tye Austin
by Don Matthews
NPR’s Jefferson Public Radio
June 7, 2013
Listen to Tye’s interview with Don Matthews on NPR’s Jefferson Public Radio discussing his recent Carnegie Hall debut, musical story, and upcoming events.
To Carnegie Hall in Five Years
by John Darling
Oregons’ Mail Tribune
February 20, 2013
Seven years ago, at age 16, Tye Austin had just graduated from Crater High School and was determined to go pro with BMX biking. He knew he had a good mind and could “deep focus” on anything and master it, which is what he’d done in 30-foot bike jumps and many other tricks of that extreme sport, despite the occasional concussions.
Then he saw classical guitar performed at a music concert.
“I knew at that moment what I was going to do with my life,” says Austin, now 23. “I’d found my passion.”
He bought a classical guitar in a local pawn shop and began the search for a master to teach him. He was “a rebel against college,” wanting to do things on his own, but soon realized Southern Oregon University had what he wanted.
Under the tutelage of David Rogers and James Edwards of the school’s guitar performance department, he mastered the instrument over the past four years, wrote and conducted a symphony for orchestra and guitars and on Sunday will perform solo in Carnegie Hall in New York. He will give a preview performance tonight at SOU.
Austin’s spot at Carnegie accompanied the first prize in the American Protégé International Piano & Strings Competition. And it has opened more doors: Following the performance, he will audition in New York at The Juilliard School for one of 11 positions for a master’s degree in guitar.
He also will audition for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Royal Academy of Music (in Steinway Hall) and the Manhattan School of Music.
How did Austin make it to Carnegie in five years? Literally, he says, it was practice, practice practice — “prioritizing my time, disciplining myself to set goals I might not have thought possible.”
When other students would party after an event, he remembers, he would go home and comb over all the parts that were difficult, even visualizing, as he fell asleep, he says, how to alter his fingering to make it better.
Dan Murphy, who mentored Austin, agrees that he was driven to succeed as a guitarist, noting the teen was accepted into SOU as a music major only six months after he began playing the guitar.
“Tye has immense passion, commitment and discipline,” says Murphy, the former chief executive officer of Community Works. “His accomplishments in a short period are remarkable for a professional musician. They highlight how much a person with clarity, passion, purpose and discipline can achieve.”
Austin has landed scholarships, including SOU’s coverage of his travel to New York, but still has a big financial hurdle: paying off his $37,000 in student loans. His $800 in application fees on his New York trip were paid for by a grant from Friends of Music.
Austin opened in 2011 at the Britt Festival for a guitarist from Julliard and performed at Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Green Show. He graduates from SOU this June. After his two-year master’s program is done, Austin hopes to work out of San Francisco.
“I aspire to be an ambassador of classical guitar … . I want to tour the world as a concert guitarist playing solo recitals and with symphonic orchestras,” he says. “I want to compose and commission my own guitar concerti, plus other works for solo guitar and chamber groups including guitar.”
Eventually, he said, he would like to teach at a university or a music conservatory.
Playing Carnegie, he says, “is a debut that many musicians wait for their entire lives. My dreams and visions are becoming my reality.”
In a preview of the Carnegie performance, Austin will perform a concert at 7:30 tonight at the SOU’s Plunkett Center, at the corner of Siskiyou Boulevard and Mountain Avenue. Tickets — which will help defray his travel expenses — are $20, or $5 for students.
For more information, contact Austin at 541-324-3938 or http://www.tyeaustin.com.