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Classical Guitarist Commits to Arts Advocacy Through Music-History-Service Series

Concordia University professor and musician Kim Perlak runs an outreach series to help students make a positive impact in their communities.

While teaching a course in American Popular Music that begins in the 1960s, Kim was moved by how inspired her students were by those who made a positive impact in our society through music, history, and service, so she created the Music-History-Service series. This project aims to connect students with history or current events, involve faculty and administration, and directly impact the present-day community.

Kim’s first project was "The Holland Guitar Project 2010," a series of community concerts and educational programs to highlight the life and work of Justin Holland - a 19th century African-American classical guitarist who learned the instrument during the time of slavery and introduced the standard European methodology to the United States. This project was funded in part by the Yale Alumni Ventures Grant.

Students got involved with the event, learned, and performed the music alongside the public school students, and volunteered their time. A follow-up scholarship donated to the Austin Classical Guitar Society provided funding for outreach students who wished to attend their summer concert series.

Kim’s latest project is “Ben and I Play for Peace” (read about Ben here). Kim and her students are celebrating Ben’s efforts to help disabled kids in Iraq with a fundraising concert on April 3, 2011 at Concordia and in two "sister cities" Denver, Colorado and Sarasota, Florida. Her student groups are mobilizing to find community sponsors, raise donations, and fill the auditorium for this concert, which will benefit Ben’s chosen organization - Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids, run by Texan Brad Blauser.

“My friends on the faculty - some of the finest classical musicians in Austin - have donated their time and talent. We are thrilled that Ben and his mom will be here with us. We are also excited to perform with Ben!”


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