Serenade, I Miss You
Interview with Texan guitarist, pedagogue, and filmmaker Nicolas Hurt

Meet Nick, a teacher, classical guitarist, and filmmaker who recently released an EP titled Serenade, I Miss You. It comes from the music of his short film with the same title. The album features his interpretations of works by himself and three other composers. In this interview, Nick shares his background and what inspired him to create this album.

Nicolas Hurt

Nicolas Hurt © Wil Kelly

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What kind of music did you grow up with?

Zeke Jarmon: Lemonade

My name is Nick Hurt. I’m a guitarist and a teacher from Austin. I live in Marfa, TX, and teach at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, TX. I grew up in Austin, which used to be called the live music capital of the world. I grew up listening to blues and rock and roll music. I had a Stratocaster and electric guitar and was in rock’ n’ roll bands playing in bars around Austin. That was my musical origin.

Are your parents musicians? Do they play any instruments?

Justice Philips: Serenade, I Miss You

No, they don’t. My dad is a visual artist; my parents had tons of creative friends around, and many were musicians. They weren’t musicians themselves, but they loved the Austin style of music very much. My grandparents also weren’t musicians, but they were in love with classical guitar, so that’s where that seed might have been planted for me early on, even though I didn’t play until pretty late in high school. They’d always be playing recordings by Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream, and John Williams, and I heard them growing up.

Your biography says you are a guitarist, teacher, folk singer, classical radio DJ, and sometimes T-shirt designer. What is their correct order, and what is your ideal order?

I like this question. Let’s see. I’d put teacher first and guitarist slightly below that. Then, as a folk singer, I sing and play folk music with my wife. I love that music, and it’s influenced in some ways by what I’m doing with classical guitar. I want to do some hybridization of folk and classical music, which is what I sort of did in the album.
Then I would put DJ. Unfortunately, I’ve been so busy with this new teaching position that I’ve had to put my radio show on pause. Hopefully, I will figure out something with my schedule and make it work again soon because that was a ton of fun having my radio show.

I’ll put design at the very bottom, and I’ll put filmmaker above design and DJ. Filmmaking is becoming my new thing. While the record “Serenade, I Missed You” was released last week, it is, in fact, the music from the short film with the same title.

Let’s talk more about Serenade, I Miss You. Did you work behind the scenes in the film? While it is one work, it involves collaborating with three other guitarist-composers. When you commissioned the composers to write the music, did you already know you wanted to combine them as one production?

I directed it and worked with two cinematographers, Erik Gatling and Will Kelly, both based in Austin. I was not behind the camera, and I felt lucky that I could focus on playing and interviewing.

I always wanted it to be all together, but I needed to find out the full extent of it. It all started during the COVID. I was living in California at the time. I was isolated, felt lonely, and missed my creative Texas community. I just wanted to play new music, so I commissioned music from friends. While working with the composers, I listened to their ideas and thoughts, and it was an engaging process that I would like to offer to the audience.

Then, I decided to include them in the film, and they became the characters in some ways so the audience could hear them talking about their music, humor, and philosophies before we heard their piece. I didn’t have everything planned out from the onset; it all came together organically. The title, Serenade, I miss you, reflects a feeling of longing and missing during the Pandemic. I did not ask them to write in a particular style, but they felt somewhat similar during that time, so it came out with a similar theme.

Your work, The Springs, is included in the set. Did you write it after you received all the commissioned pieces back?

Nicolas Hurt — Serenade, I Miss You album cover
Nick Hurt: The Springs

I did. I don’t consider myself a composer. I was working on the pieces I had commissioned, and then my wife, Janelle, just out of the blue, said, “You should write something,” which is why I wrote this piece. The Springs portrays my memory of Barton Springs in Austin, TX. In my opinion, it is one of the most important features of the city. I wrote the piece just remembering and wanting to go there.

So, since you moved back to Texas, have you visited there?

Yes, I have, thank goodness! I was just there for a film festival called the South by Southwest and went to the pool several times.

Claire Puckett: Lantern

What do you expect from releasing this album?

I don’t want to say an afterthought, but my main creative push was for the film, which was released last year and premiered through the Austin Classical Guitar Society. I am so grateful to the Austin Classical Guitar Society for that opportunity. I love audio releases, and it’s important that we still have audio releases, so I decided to release them as CDs. Honestly the goal of it is to try to direct people to the film.

You host a classical radio show, In Tune, on Marfa Public Radio. How long have you been working on that?

It is on pause right now. The show began in 2018, and then it went until COVID. I did them remotely for a while, but it became much less fun and required much more work. It was really a great pleasure to do it; I learned so much- it was like my music history class in college but times ten because I had to talk about the music convincingly to an audience; in addition to that, I also learned a bunch of new music. I enjoyed the interview portion. I invited musicians so that they would either come to the studio or we would have a go and have a recording session where we interviewed. I would record them live and then air them on the show. It was just a lot of fun. I would love to do it again.

Do you have some new projects coming up that you would like to share?

I have commissioned a whole new set of pieces for another film, but that’s probably years later because I have only received one piece back, and many other composers are still working. I’m very excited about it because I have expanded my reach for those I have asked to compose. I have composers who live in Europe and throughout the United States, so it’s not just in Austin. It is a bit more expansive, and they are also more established composers. For more immediate, I’m working on another CD, which will also be Texas musicians but compositions, not necessarily commissions. Some great composers are affiliated with the excellent Classical Guitar Society, including an interesting composer in Amarillo, TX, a tiny little town. Hopefully, that’ll be within the next year or two of an entire CD of Texas music.

Serenade, I Miss You is now available for purchase here.

Learn more about Nick Hurt.

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