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 has three to five students accepted into its guitar program each year.
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, named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in Salzburg, Austria.
Before he heads east, Austin will perform a final series 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 final 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 by a $13 suggested donation, 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 special guests. Music will feature arrangements, by Austin, 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."