Rogene Russell, Artistic Director                          

A founding member of Fine Arts Chamber Players (FACP), Rogene serves as the FACP Artistic Director and Teaching Artist with Dream Collectors. Chosen to receive the Texas Commission on the Arts “Exemplary Programming for Children” Award, the Dream Collector troupe of professional musicians and actors will celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2014.

A University of Tennessee and Yale University School of Music graduate, Rogene Russell is Principal Oboist of The Dallas Opera Orchestra where she just completed her twenty fourth season with the orchestra.  Since 1977, Rogene has been a member of the oboe section of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Rogene is Adjunct Professor of Oboe at the University of Texas at Arlington and is an active freelance musician and contractor in Dallas. A graduate of the first Leadership Arts class of the Business Council for the Arts founded by Ray Nasher and Patricia Porter, Rogene currently represents The Dallas Opera Orchestra on The Dallas Opera Board of Directors. Rogene also served on the 2011 Texas Commission on the Arts grants panel.

Committed to offering free classical music concerts and music education opportunities in Dallas, Rogene can be found tuning violins at FACP’s after school string program, choosing artists for FACP concert series and playing her oboe for children in area schools. When Rogene is not making reeds, teaching, rehearsing, performing or practicing, you can find her in the kitchen where she loves to bake “birthday pies” and experiment with international cuisine.


Rachel Nelson AssiRachel Nelson Assi, Executive Director

Rachel is an accomplished mezzo-soprano who started her career in the Bronx as a public school music teacher. After teaching and freelancing in New York and Florida, she developed a passion for arts administration. She previously worked with Gloria Musicae and the Sarasota Opera in Sarasota, Florida as well as with Big Thought in Dallas. She received a Bachelor of Music Education from Rutgers University – New Brunswick and has taken master’s coursework in arts administration at Drexel University. As a performer, she has sung across the country with ensembles such as the Oregon Bach Festival, Orpheus Chamber Singers, St. Petersburg Opera, and the Bard Summerscape Festival. Rachel is also an alumna of the 2015-2016 Leadership Arts class.

When she isn’t working or singing, Rachel enjoys traveling with her husband, Joe, a French horn player with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, playing with her son, Owen, and reassuring her neurotic border collie mix, Schroeder.


Dr. Alex McDonald

Dr. Alex McDonald, Basically Beethoven Festival Director

Since his orchestral debut at age 11, pianist Alex McDonald has soloed with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de Mexico, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and the Utah Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has performed across the United States as well as in Israel, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and South Korea; additionally, he has been a featured performer on PBS, WRR, NPR, and WQXR. Awards and fellowships include second prize at the 2007 New Orleans International Piano Competition and second prize at the 2001 Gina Bachauer International Young Artist Piano Competition. In 2008, he was named a Harvey Fellow by the Mustard Seed Foundation. He was a participant in the 2014 Van Cliburn Competition.

Alex currently maintains a private studio, having previously taught at Texas Woman’s University and Richland College, as well as at the Juilliard School, where he also was a Teaching Fellow for both the Literature and Materials and Piano Minor departments. His private piano students have been admitted to Juilliard and Eastman, and have performed at Carnegie’s Weill Hall and on WRR. Deeply concerned about a healthy integration of life with music, he has actively pursued community formation both as an R.A. in the Juilliard residence hall and as president of Juilliard Christian Fellowship.

Alex received his pre-college training under Lois Nielson, his bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory with Academic Honors and Distinction in Performance under Russell Sherman, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Juilliard under Yoheved Kaplinsky and Julian Martin. He has also received significant coaching from Pamela Paul, Stephen Nielson, Sam Wong, John Owings, Tamas Ungar, and especially his mother Marcy McDonald. His doctoral document, a source study on manuscripts and editions for Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, has been cited in the most recent edition of the sonata by Alfred Publishers, edited by Nancy Bricard.


Emily Muscarella Guthrie, Office Manager

Emily’s background is mostly in development efforts for nonprofits, as a former staff member for Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Kitchen Dog Theater, as an independent contractor, and as a board member for Second Thought Theatre. She is a newly accepted member of the 2016-2017 Leadership Arts class.

Currently, her volunteer efforts focus on her children’s schools, helping teach children’s choir at her church, and singing in her church’s select choir. She graduated cum laude from Southern Methodist University with degrees in Print Journalism, Art History, and Italian area studies.

Emily is married to Ben, a software and client services professional; together, they are raising three school-age children. She is known to quiz them on “Guess the Composer” while tooling around town, but will tune in to Top 40 at their request.

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