(Updated April 19, 2023.)
From day one, YTA’s new Director of Program and Operations has been received warmly.
Aurel Garza-Tucker, a bassoonist/contrabassoonist, comes to YTA from the Austin Chamber Music Center (ACMC), where she was the Assistant Director of Education and Production.
“We are delighted to welcome Aurel to our team,” YTA President/CEO Susie Moore Pokorski said. “Her background in music education and music competitions is a tremendous asset, and she is already making a positive difference. Aurel oversees YTA’s business and operational matters, freeing me to focus on the development and expansion of our local and statewide audiences, opportunities for our artists and YTA’s core mission. I’m so grateful to have Aurel’s help because we are growing, and as everyone knows, YTA is my passion and always will be.”
Garza-Tucker, who has a Master of Music in Bassoon Performance, also is a bassoon instructor and Vice President of the Austin Civic Orchestra’s Board of Directors. During her seven years with ACMC, she was responsible for organizing concerts, keeping the center’s educational and outreach programs running smoothly, and designing marketing materials in addition to assisting ACMC with its chamber music competition.
“My new role with YTA is a natural progression of that,” Garza-Tucker said. “My main life goal is to help people grow through music, and I am excited about doing that in a more impactful way with Young Texas Artists.”
A Heart for Music and Musicians
Garza-Tucker’s journey as a musician began in elementary school when she learned to play the recorder and joined the choir. But even before that, music was an important part of life in her family. “My dad has always played guitar and always played music for me,” she recalled. “I ended up joining a band in sixth grade, and ever since then it’s been this one constant in my life.”
She said she’s excited about the opportunity to help other young musicians through her work with YTA, especially in light of the many challenges facing emerging artists.
“One of the greatest challenges I’ve seen is a narrowing of jobs available in the classical music field,” Garza-Tucker said. “There are many careers available in music that aren’t necessarily performance based, but if you’re looking for a more traditional job in an orchestra or on faculty at a music school, the options can be slim. Being an outstanding performer isn’t enough these days, you also have to know how to network, market yourself, and possibly diversify your income stream with other types of nontraditional performance work.”
While Garza-Tucker has seen some music schools launch entrepreneurial courses in recent years, she suspects that many young musicians are not quite sure what to do after they graduate.
“A lot of musicians I graduated with have completely changed careers — think coding and real estate,” she said. “While I’m sure that was the right move for them, and they’re doing something they want to do, it’s a little sad to see. I hope career development support, like we provide at YTA, can help emerging musicians find a successful path in music.
“I’m especially excited about our next Career Development Program, which will be presented by concert pianist and brand development specialist Jade Simmons later this year,” Garza-Tucker added. “The program is designed for emerging artists in all disciplines, and YTA has added a new financial management component.”
Value of Competitions
Garza-Tucker said she’s also excited about helping with the Young Texas Artists Music Competition. Some of her favorite memories of working for ACMC involve helping with its annual competition for chamber ensembles.
“Our competition was always a whirlwind!” Garza-Tucker said. “I often worked the check-in desk, and I loved seeing all of the excited musicians ready to give their all on stage. Even though everyone was technically competing against one another, there was a lovely sense of camaraderie among the contestants, and it was wonderful to be surrounded by so many people that loved music deeply.”
Music competitions can have a tremendous impact on young classical artists, she added.
“First off, it’s so valuable for musicians to work toward and perform for something. Musicians apply to the competition to challenge themselves, which is important to continue to do as you go through life.”
Also helpful, she said, are the opportunities to receive feedback from knowledgeable judges, network, and vie for cash prizes, as YTA contestants do.
Garza-Tucker said she would encourage emerging artists to seize every opportunity they can to participate in competitions — and to make learning a continuous endeavor.
“Keep learning!” she said. “There are tons of free courses on marketing, social media, networking, anything you can think of really, on the in internet,” she said. “Everything is changing so fast these days, and we all have to spend time keeping up with trends and refining the way we do things. Learning definitely doesn’t stop once you leave the classroom, and we should all continue to grow and learn as we get older.”
Garza-Tucker recommends taking time to research local services and organizations that can provide support, as well.
“In Austin, we have the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) and the SIMS Foundation, which help working musicians and music teachers get access to affordable healthcare and mental health resources. Almost all of my friends that are gigging musicians rely on these organizations to help them.
Texas also has statewide programs for performing artists to help promote themselves and network. Not all emerging musicians live in Austin and/or Texas, but their cities and state might have similar programs. Keep an eye out for organizations benefiting musicians and talk to colleagues about groups they are members of.”
Garza-Tucker is based in Austin, which reflects YTA’s growing presence throughout Texas, and she will be making regular visits to Montgomery County.
She has attended YTA’s Classics At The Glade Celebration, the annual lasagna dinner for volunteers, the 2023 Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala, and this year’s Finalists’ Concert and Awards, allowing her to get to know many of the people who work with and support the organization.
“Everyone I’ve met has been incredibly nice and excited to have me on board, which feels really good.”