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Reflections on the 2022 Apprenticeship Showcase

By Marco Guarino


Greetings Texas Folklife Family and Friends,

This is Marco, Texas Folklife’s Apprenticeship Coordinator, taking the baton a mere eight weeks ago from Peter Breithaupt, who did a superb job getting me up to pace for the position. I hit the ground running with the responsibility of producing the final showcase of one of Texas Folklife’s flagship programs, the Apprenticeship program. As a seasoned producer and culture appreciator, yet fairly new to Texas, I was excited by both the task at hand and the experience of discovery that I myself was about to go through. In the process of producing this event, I have learned an incredible amount about Texan artists and culture and was genuinely surprised by the breadth of cultural production that happens in Texas. From Indigenous storytelling, ceramics, cartoneria, and flamenco dancing, to conjunto accordion performance, accordion tuning, erhu, veena, and western swing guitar, this year’s Apprenticeship Program surely had a remarkable amount of talent representing traditions from many corners of the globe, coming together to display Texas’ incredible diversity. It was a pleasure and an honor getting to know the artists that took part in this year’s Apprenticeship program by way of producing this event, as much as it will be a welcome challenge to match their talent, passion, discipline, and enthusiasm to share their stories with next year’s cohort.

As mentioned, this year’s Apprenticeship Program cohort blew me away! Each apprentice/ mentor team brought their finest foot forward during the showcase, and through sharing their experiences in the Apprenticeship Program, they revealed just how important a program like this is. Not only was it a rich learning experience for mentors and apprentices alike, it was also a sharing experience in which the apprentice became aware of the great responsibility they have to keep the torch burning for their respective craft. This experience serves as, quite literally, the closing of a circle. This point was drilled home by one of our panelists for the event, Dr. Mark Brill, who made it clear that the process of learning and teaching is one in the same; that one day it will be the apprentices’ responsibility to pass the torch to someone else.

 In the midst of a rapidly changing world, demographically, technologically, and geographically, it is vital to not lose touch with the cultures and customs that connect us to our communities. Likewise, it is also true that we must incorporate these changes with open arms into our realms as these interactions have the potential to summon empathy and inclusion between communities, notwithstanding the understanding that the dynamic between them must manifest with equity and respect. At the end of Part 2 of our Virtual Showcase, it was dreamt upon for the opportunity to have a jam session between an erhu player, a veena player, an accordion Player, and a guitar player. This sentiment is precisely what makes the Texas Folklife’s Apprenticeship Program so gratifying. 

I’m proud to be part of an organization that creates visibility and opportunities for anyone and everyone engaged in traditional cultural productions in Texas. Hopefully, for the next one, the dream of a multi-cultural, yet uniquely Texan jam session will become reality. 

I also want to thank Peter Breithaupt for curating such an amazing cohort, Maya Williams-Britton for co-producing this event with me, Ben Doyle for his behind-the-scenes magic, and the rest of the Texas Folklife Team for their unending support!

 Hasta la próxima!