FACP Co-Founder and Artistic Director Rogene Russell announces retirement

Fine Arts Chamber Players Co-Founder & Artistic Director Rogene Russell announces retirement

Emily Levin named artistic director of museum concert series


Rogene Russell and Emily Levin

DALLAS (March 23, 2019) – Fine Arts Chamber Players announces the retirement of Rogene Russell, the organization’s co-founder and artistic director. The Board of Directors has appointed Emily Levin as artistic director of the free chamber music concert series FACP produces at the Dallas Museum of Art. Ms. Levin is principal harp of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The two will work together this Spring and Ms. Russell will officially conclude her time with FACP when the current concert season concludes in May 2019.

I have been honored to lead the artistic vision of Fine Arts Chamber Players since 1981,” Ms. Russell said. “Emily Levin will bring fresh ideas and remarkable musical experience to our enthusiastic audience.”

In addition to being an incredible administrator and fixture among the Dallas music scene, Ms. Russell enjoyed 39 seasons with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and 29 seasons with The Dallas Opera Orchestra as principal oboe. Ms. Russell is also a faculty member at the University of Texas at Arlington and teaches private students.

Her experience as a musician is what led to the creation of FACP. She explained, “When bassoonist Charles Price and I co-founded FACP, we were convinced that providing free chamber music concerts for Dallas was important to the growth of the arts. I am extremely pleased that FACP has played a part of the development of the Dallas Arts District and its offerings to the public. And FACP is incredibly thankful for the Dallas Museum of Art embracing our concept of free programs of professional music nearly 40 years ago.

Ms. Levin is enthusiastic in carrying on the tradition. She said, “From my very first performance for FACP, I was struck by its ability to fill the hall with such a large and diverse audience. The enthusiasm shared between audience and musicians speaks not only to the high artistic quality of the performers, but also to the success of this concert series in engaging the community. I am honored to be following in the footsteps of Rogene, who has brought so much talent and vision to the Dallas arts community.”

Ms. Russell told the FACP Board of her retirement plans last fall. A search committee was convened and met with multiple interested parties.

Board President Anne Witherspoon expressed, “We are so grateful for Rogene’s commitment to the organization over the past 38 years. She has been an inspirational leader and has filled a critical need within our community by ensuring quality educational programs and free classical concerts. She has been a mentor, teacher, and friend to so many and will be greatly missed. Our organization is so fortunate to have such a dynamic and talented successor in Emily Levin and look forward to her vision as we continue to evolve and serve our community.”

Under Ms. Russell’s direction, FACP expanded steadily over the years. The inaugural program, the Basically Beethoven Festival, is Dallas’s only free chamber music series offered in the summer. The museum series, presented in conjunction with the Dallas Museum of Art, is the only series with always free admission and features professional musicians. Beyond public performances, FACP has robust music education offerings, including individual and small group lessons, that are offered to deserving Dallas students at no cost to the students.

“The wealth of knowledge Rogene has is staggering,” Executive Director Emily Guthrie added. “Over the course of these 38 years, she’s done a little bit of everything in the organization. Beyond the artistic decisions, she has handled the administrative role, including significant fundraising efforts, she was a founding member of our educational performance troupe, and she has been hands-on with our music residency programs.”

She added, “The programming on FACP’s concert stage routinely balances familiar pieces from the chamber music canon and pieces that are new to most listeners. Rogene has honored the fact that some FACP’s audience members know this music inside and out, but many in our audience are relatively new to classical music. That’s the spirit of Fine Arts Chamber Players: building a community and providing a welcoming environment for all people to enjoy this music together. Rogene has embodied that spirit and has inspired countless others – including Emily Levin and me – to keep that wonderful, welcoming spirit alive.

The final museum concerts of the season are April 13 and May 4, 2019. Under the direction of Ms. Levin, the 2019-2020 season will open in October 2019. FACP’s 39th annual Basically Beethoven Festival opens July 7 with weekly concerts on July 14, 21, and 28. Information on all FACP programs and concerts can be found online at www.fineartschamberplayers.org.

Overview – Fine Arts Chamber Players

  • Basically Beethoven Festival: FACP’s inaugural program; free chamber music concerts on Sunday afternoons in July at Moody Performance Hall; FACP Festival Director is Dr. Alex McDonald
  • Museum concert series: monthly, free chamber music concert series on Saturday afternoons, October – May (excluding December); performed in the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art; incoming Artistic Director is Emily Levin (pronounced luh-VEEN)
  • Free music education programs including Musical Residencies at three Dallas ISD high schools and at an east Dallas charter school; FACP Teaching Artists lead individual and small group lessons in voice, piano, and violin to students with financial need; instruction and instruments provided at no cost to students and schools

FACP was founded in 1981 with the FREE Basically Beethoven Festival, which quickly became Dallas’ premier summer chamber music festival. In 1984, FACP began the Bancroft Family Concert series performing in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art. FACP also maintains educational programs via musical residencies in select Dallas schools, masterclasses, and a troupe who creates original educational material for school performances. To date, FACP has served more than 250,000 children with education programs and performed quality classical music for over half a million North Texas citizens – all completely free of charge.

Now Hear This: an Interview with Ann Hung and Stanislav Chernyshev, clarinet

Ann Hung and Stanislav “Stas” Chernyshev not only play the same instrument; co-lead Opus Nova, a new chamber music series in Fort Worth; and will perform together at FACP’s Bancroft Family Concert: WOMEN OF NOTE; but they are also married! The dynamic duo took a moment to give our audience a glimpse at the program, which focuses on female composers, and some background on their lives and careers.

What piece on the program are you most looking forward to sharing with our audience, and why? Ann and Stas: Missy Mazzoli’s trio “Lies you can believe in.” Not only Missy Mazzoli is one of the most inventive living composers these days, she is also close to our age and speaks the musical language of the 21st century.

When did you start playing the clarinet? Why did you choose the instrument? Did you learn other instruments? Ann: I started to play the clarinet when I was 10. My mom actually chose it for me, simply because it is an easy instrument to carry around. I also play the piano, and I started the piano when I was 5. Stas: I started the clarinet when I was 13. I heard Benny Goodman play the clarinet on the radio and immediately fell in love with the sound. That’s what made me want to learn this instrument. I also play a little bit of piano, I started at the age of 8.

When did you decide to pursue music as a career? Ann: I have been in music school since 3rd grade. Of course there are some difficult times when I just wanted to play outside with friends instead of sitting in front of a music stand and practicing, but music brings me so much of joy, I’ve always known I wanted to do something that relates to it. Stas: I decided to be a professional musician after I won my first solo competition at age 15.
Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play? Ann: It’s hard to pick just one, and it changes with time. Lately I’ve been in love with Scarlatti, Ravel, and Beethoven. But Brahms has always been my favorite to listen and play without a doubt. Stas: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.

What advice would you give 14-year-old Ann and Stas? Ann: Practice and listen to music as much as you can! Enjoy the time that practicing is the only thing you need to worry about (ha-ha)! Stas: I would definitely give myself lots of life advice if I could go back! If we are talking about music,  I would suggest myself to practice more and attend as many concerts as possible.

What advice would you give to a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college? Ann: Know that you are going to spend the majority of your time alone in the practice room whether you are free or not: holidays, weekends, finals–doesn’t matter. If you still think that’s something you want to do, then yes! Follow your heart! It’s a hard path, but I guarantee the result is just as gratifying as it can be. Stas: If you decide to pursue music as your career practice hard, but don’t forget to have a life as well. Your life experience is what makes your music unique. The music has to be personal and it has to come from your heart.

What’s your favorite sound? Ann: The waves from the ocean. Stas: I recently heard a Mariachi group, one of the instruments there called guitarron (basically a bass guitar), absolutely blew my mind.

Finally, when you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert to you hope to hear? Ann and Stas: Beethoven String Quartets


Fine Arts Chamber Players