Now Hear This: Matthew Ho, violin

Matthew Ho comes to our stage after having performed as a Rising Star recitalist during the 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival. Of course, he hasn’t been idle since July! In fact, Matthew is one of the finalists of the Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition sponsored by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Beyond the stage, Matthew is a high school student and competitive ice skater. (No, we don’t know how he does it all, either!) FACP is thrilled to have Matthew perform this Saturday with pianist Yurie Iwasaki at the Charles Barr Memorial concert.

Matthew Ho at the 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival

What piece on the program are you most looking forward to sharing with our audience, and why? I am very excited about this program. It has many great pieces from composition, violin performance, and listening points of view. If I had to pick one, I would say “Nightclub 1960” by Astor Piazzolla. This nuevo tango includes a section of interesting percussion sounds. I had to practice it quite a bit and consult a friend who is now attending Juilliard. My teacher has confirmed, I am doing it just right! I hope you all will find it as surprising as I did when I first heard it.


In addition to being an accomplished musician, you’re a competitive ice skater. Can you tell us more about that? Yes, I have had been ice skating since I was very young. I started at a mall rink and now skate regularly at Farmers Branch Children’s Health rink. I am working on my triple jumps right now and have been doing pairs skating for two years now. My pairs team was ranked 6th place in Juvenile Pairs at the 2019 Geico USFS National Championships at Detroit this past January. It was a great experience to compete at Nationals. We hope to do it again this coming year.


What’s your typical daily schedule to fit in all you have to do? My daily schedule changes from day to day. During weekdays, it usually starts around 6:45am so I can get to school. School runs from 8 a.m. – 3 or 4 p.m. I then rush to my various after school activities such as ice skating, violin lessons, or rehearsals. Like many of my classmates, I don’t get home until almost 7:00! I quickly take a shower, have dinner, and then start homework and practice violin. The nights are usually long. On Saturdays, I wake up even earlier for ice skating training.


How do you unwind? Hmm…sleep is good. Watching TV, texting my friends, and day dreaming are all great – if I have the time.


What kind of music do you like to listen to? I like to listen to classical music and some pop music. Recently, I have liked songs by Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, and some Asian pop songs.


Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play? My favorite composer changes depending on my mood and what I am playing at the time. If I had to pick one right now, I probably would choose Astor Piazzolla. Not only will I be performing it in my Saturday program, I also recently performed one of his trios at my school. His music is interesting to listen to and play.


What do you plan to do after high school graduation in a few years? Will you continue studying music in college? After high school graduation, I hope to take a relaxing vacation and maybe have a concert tour (this is a big maybe). I do hope I will have been accepted to one of my dream colleges. Yes, I am planning on continuing my music education in college.


What’s your favorite sound? Least favorite sound? My favorite sounds change often, from the lyrical, soothing sound of a violin to just white noise. Right now, I think the light tapping of rain sounds quite soothing. My least favorite sound would probably be scratching, like nails scratching on a chalkboard.

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

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


Now Hear This (again!): an Interview with Jolyon Pegis, cello

When Jolyon Pegis, Associate Principal Cello of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, played our Bancroft Family Concert series last season, we conducted a “Now Hear This” interview to get to know the musician and the program for that day. For this go-round, we asked a few more questions to get that behind-the-scenes peek our audience loves. Enjoy! And we’ll see you this Saturday, November 10, at 3 p.m. for Dynamic Duos: the Bancroft concert featuring Jolyon with DSO violinist Maria Schleuning.


Jolyon Pegis & Maria Schleuning

What piece on Saturday’s program with Maria are you most excited about?  I’m probably most excited to perform the Kodály Duo. We haven’t performed this work in over 10 years. It’s so well written for both instruments and is fun to perform. The audience will find it entertaining and very satisfying.

Can you explain a bit about what your role as Associate Principal Cello is? What’s your function with the other musicians/within the cello section?  There are two things I need to accomplish as an Associate Principal. If you attend a DSO concert you’ll notice that I am sitting directly behind the Principal. My first goal is to play with the Principal. If I don’t, it will make the job of the section much harder since I will essentially block their view of what the Principal is doing. I also help transmit information from the Principal to the rest of the section. The other duty of anyone who is an Associate Principal is to cover for the Principal if they are off that day. That means you have to be ready to assume the duties of the Principal, sometimes with little notice.

You last played for us in March 2018. What brought you back to play for our audience this season?  This program is the first of a series of concerts that Maria and I are giving. We’ll repeat this program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in December.

What cello piece or recording should everyone have in their music library?  In my last DMA concert in March I performed the Vivaldi Cello Concerto in B Minor. I learned about this piece from a CD of Vivaldi Concertos featuring the cellist Heinrich Schiff. I really love this CD. I think this is a good one for your collection!


An excerpt from Jolyon’s interview in March 2018:

Is chamber music for cello a big part of the repertoire? Yes, it is. These pieces are interesting because they are really chamber concertos. I was surprised to learn many years ago that Vivaldi wrote about 35 of these concertos for cello and Boccherini wrote 15.

How old were you when you started playing cello? Why did you choose it? Did you learn other instruments? I actually started with the violin. I played from ages 5 to 8 and then switched to cello. I’ve always liked the lower register and darker sounds of the cello. I also played the piano throughout high school.

What type of music did you listen growing up? I come from a family of classical musicians so it was strictly classical in our house growing up. With three violinists in the family I heard a lot of violin concertos as a kid. I know we wore out many records from constant playing. Although I preferred playing the cello I really liked listening to certain violinists more than anything. Fritz Kreisler and Pinchas Zukerman were my favorites.

What do you listen to now? I spend so much of my time in rehearsals or performing that sometimes I prefer silence after a concert. The radio stays off on the car ride home! Or I prefer a book on tape.

What advice would you give 14-year-old Jolyon? If you really want to improve, you need to practice consistently and you need to practice smart. It’s so important to have a plan when you get to work. I wish I learned this at an earlier age.

What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college? Music is a very demanding profession. If you’re not all in, don’t do it. If you try to do a double major as a “back-up,” you most likely won’t succeed. The most important thing you will do in college is practice – probably 4 or 5 hours a day. Anything that gets in the way of doing that needs to go. After college you aren’t going to get hired because of your degrees, grades, extra-curricular activities etc. You’ll get hired because of how well you play.

Now Hear This: Alexander Kerr, violin

Now Hear This: an Interview with Alexander Kerr

The 2018-2019 season of our Bancroft Family Concerts kicks off with an impressive program: Dallas Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Alexander Kerr, joined by DSO pianist Anastasia Markina, shares the music of Leos Janacek, Antonin Dvorak, and Ludwig van Beethoven.  

In addition to holding the Concertmaster position in Dallas since 2011, Mr. Kerr is Professor of Violin at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, the Principal Guest Concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and maintains and hearty concert schedule filled with solo and chamber music engagements. Welcome to our stage, Alex!

Alexander Kerr, DSO Concertmaster

Can you explain a bit about what your role as Concertmaster is? What’s your function with the other musicians/for the conductor?  I believe my roles as a concertmaster are as a facilitator and liaison. Whether through my body motions, or suggestions I make to the orchestra, I try my best to help the conductor in front of me realize his/her vision. I also act as intermediary between sections of the orchestra, and between the orchestra and the conductor.


What piece on the program are you most looking forward to sharing with our audience, and why?  Janacek’s Sonata! It is a rarely performed work and I find it to be a beautiful and exciting piece – there are so many characters and gorgeous harmonic moments.


You started the violin at age 7. Why did you choose the instrument? Do you play anything else?  I began studying the violin purely by chance. I started with the piano at age 4, studying with my mother (an amazing teacher, by the way!). She drove me so crazy that I begged to play anything else. So, I strode into my elementary school orchestra director’s office and asked if I could play the cello. Unfortunately, there were none available in my size and she needed a violinist. The rest was, as they say, history!


When did you decide to pursue music as a career?  I think I realized I would be a musician in my middle teens. I was traveling through Europe and thought to myself, “music can take me all over the world and I can get paid to do it!” In fact, my mom recently found a post card that I sent her and my stepfather from Rome, detailing that exact moment.


In addition to playing with the DSO, you are a professor at Indiana University. How is it splitting your time between the two locations?  Juggling my two lives isn’t easy but I love both so much, I can’t imagine giving either up! When in Dallas, I teach my students via an internet teleconferencing system, so they never lose the continuity of their lessons. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it! It fulfills me as an artist.


What type of music did you listen to growing up, and what do you turn on now? What kind of music do you share with your children?  I grew up listening to almost everything and my current playlists range from hip hop, to jazz, Classical, 80s and 90s pop, hard rock, and folk music. My kids listen to everything I listen to: they are very much into Broadway musicals, hip hop, and pop.


Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play? I always vacillate between Brahms and Beethoven – it really depends upon the individual piece.


What advice would you give 14-year-old Alex?  Never let fear guide your life. Be courageous, even when life sends you the most humbling challenges you can imagine.


What advice would you give to a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college?  Practice, practice, practice.


What’s your favorite sound?  The sound of the ocean. Your least favorite sound?  An ambulance.


Finally, when you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert to you hope to hear?  I’d love to be a part of a performance of the St. Matthew Passion, Bach conducting, Mozart as my stand partner, and all my friends surrounding me.

Season Announcement: 35th year of free concerts features top DFW musicians

Fine Arts Chamber Players: A Season of Family and Friends

Fine Arts Chamber Players is pleased to share with you the 2018–2019 season of its free Bancroft Family Concert Series at the Dallas Museum of Art: seven virtuosic programs featuring Dallas’s top professional musicians. The season is bookended by key Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) personnel Alexander Kerr and Nathan Olson, and FACP is honored to have several preeminent members of the DSO, The Dallas Opera Orchestra, and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO) featured throughout the series – truly a celebration of musical families and FACP’s friends. The season opens with DSO Concertmaster Alexander Kerr joined by DSO pianist Anastasia Markina and closes with DSO Co-Concertmaster Nathan Olson’s Baumer String Quartet.

The Bancroft Family Concert series, 2018-2019 Season

  • Saturday afternoons: October 13, November 10, January 12, February 9, March 23, April 13, May 4
  • All concerts begin at 3 p.m., doors to the auditorium open at 2:30 p.m.
  • Horchow Auditorium in the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 N. Harwood St., Dallas 75201)
  • No tickets required. General admission to the DMA is also free. Families with children welcome.


October 13, 2018: MUSIC FROM THE TOP

DSO Concertmaster Alexander Kerr and DSO pianist Anastasia Markina perform music by Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, and Ludwig van Beethoven.


November 10, 2018: DYNAMIC DUOS

A DSO duo featuring Associate Principal Cello Jolyon Pegis, and DSO violinist Maria Schleuning presents music by Joseph Haydn, Astor Piazzolla, and Zoltán Kodály.



Russell CampbellAssociate Principal Trumpet of the DSO, and DSO Principal Harp Emily Levin perform fresh and engaging music in this unusual pairing of instruments whose histories are thousands of years old. The program includes music by DebussyGershwinde Falla, and more.


February 9, 2019: FAMILY OF FLUTES

David BuckPrincipal Flute of the DSO, and his wife, distinguished flutist Jung-Wan Kang, join DSO pianist Steven Harlos in an afternoon of music for two flutes and piano.


March 23, 2019: WOMEN OF NOTE

Opus Nova, DFW’s newest chamber music ensemble, features husband and wife Artistic Directors: clarinetist Ann Hung and Stanislav ChernyshevFWSO Principal Clarinet. Presented during Women’s History Month and during the Dallas Museum of Art’s exhibit Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist, this concert celebrates the artistic contributions of women.



Yong-Ha Jung, viola, winner of the 2018 Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition, a Rising Star recitalist at FACP’s 2017 Basically Beethoven Festival, and music student at The Juilliard School, presents a recital in memory of Dallas native, bassist Charles Barr.



The Mendelssohn Octet, jewel of the chamber music repertoire, is performed by the Baumer String Quartet, led by DSO Co-Concertmaster Nathan Olson, and SMU’s resident ensemble, the Julius Quartet.

Now Hear This: Jared Schwartz, bass

The final concert of the 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival is a look at “Art Song,” intimate pieces by French and American composers performed for us by operatic bass Jared Schwartz and pianist Mary Dibbern. We interviewed Mr. Schwartz so our audience can get to know the local musician before hearing him at Moody Performance Hall on Sunday. Read on to learn why he stopped being a pre-med student to focus on voice, and when he “decided to give singing a chance.”

What piece on the program are you most looking forward to sharing with our audience? “Jeanne d’arc au bûcher” (Joan of Arc at the Stake) is a French song by Franz Liszt. Joan is preparing to walk to the pyre to be burned alive at the stake. You get to experience all the emotions of her fears and her faith as she ascends the platform, and then passes into heaven to find her eternal reward. Every time I sing this piece, I have to stop for a moment afterwards and thank God for such incredible music.


How old were you when you started studying voice? Why did you decide to, and did you learn any other instruments? I started piano at age 3 and originally thought that would be my path. I was actually a piano major in college, and I grew up studying violin and French horn. Additionally, I sang in (and accompanied) choirs and musicals, but never actually studied singing until halfway through my sophomore year of college at Bethel College, thanks to my voice teacher, Vicky Garrett. A year and a half later I auditioned for graduate school at the Eastman School of Music for voice and, after I got in, decided to give singing a chance. After graduate school, I have flown every six or so weeks to NYC to study with my voice teacher of the past 11 years, David Jones. Singing is definitely my favorite of all my instruments, but they all influence my singing.


When did you decide to pursue a career as a musician? I began college as a Chemistry/Pre-Med/French Horn/Piano major (yes, all four).  It was absolutely insane. I had a blast learning so many different things but I was sick every two weeks from lack of rest!  After one semester of that, I decided to hone in on music and use medical school as my Plan B. At this point, I think music is where I’ll stay.


What type of music did you listen to growing up, and what do you listen to now? I grew up making a lot of music in church, whether contemporary Christian or classical. I also did lots of musicals, so show tunes are practically in my DNA. I grew up in a small town in Indiana of about 3,000 people, that just happens to have an oratorio society, so I grew up singing in Messiah and other oratorios, as well. For growing up somewhat in the middle of nowhere, I was very fortunate to have a multitude of musical experiences.


Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To sing? My favorite composer to listen to, as of late, is Mieczysław Weinberg. His orchestral music, particularly his cello concerto, are sublime. My favorite composer to sing is Verdi, particularly his Requiem. He knew exactly how to write for the bass voice. He elevated basses from silly buffo roles to real, emotional, powerful lyrical singing. I also like to sing songs I’ve written. Then the only person I can blame for writing something difficult is myself!


What advice would you give 14-year-old Jared? Your love for music will carry you much further than you can ever imagine. Just keep making music, keep pushing yourself, keep learning, and keep enjoying every note and every step you take along the way. Also, practice SLOWLY!


What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college? Study as many instruments as possible!  The more well-rounded a musician you are, the greater your palette of expression will be on your (eventual) chosen instrument. It is very easy for me to think orchestrally because I have studied nearly all the instruments in the orchestra. Also, read the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve read it three times and my artistic confidence expands every time.


What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound? My favorite musical sound is the cello, or anything in D-flat major. Non-musically, I love the sound of water, whether the ocean or a great thunderstorm. My least favorite sound is music sung without any meaning behind it…or snoring (I’m a light sleeper).


When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear? I’d probably have all the great Wagnerian singers of the past (Birgit Nillson, Hans Hotter, Jon Vickers, etc.) bust out some giant gospel music number with a huge orchestra and choir, and probably some dancers, too, to keep things really exciting! It would be rockin’!


Now Hear This: an interview with Deborah Brooks, cello

Ms. Brooks, cellist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, joins flutist Shauna Thompson and pianist Shields-Collins Bray for the July 8 concert of the Basically Beethoven Festival. Read on to her thoughts on Beethoven’s storytelling, her favorite composers, what she would have changed about herself in high school, and more!

Deborah Brooks

What piece on the program are you most looking forward to sharing with our audience?  The Beethoven Sonata is special to me as I have vivid memories of chamber music readings while a college student that often went well into the night. It’s a happy piece that works well in the summertime, and the first movement seems complete in its storytelling.

How old were you when you started playing the cello? Why did you choose it and did you learn any other instruments?  I began lessons on the piano at age 5 with my father. While learning violin in the fifth grade, we learned that the one cellist in our little elementary school orchestra was moving away. So, thinking that I would be bored playing the violin another year, I switched to the cello to fill the gap. Then I fell in love with the deeper sounds. I continued piano and theory studies all through high school, which was invaluable in my overall music training.

When did you decide to pursue a career as a musician/performer?  The 8th grade. Seriously. It has just been my passion for as long as I can remember.

What type of music did you listen to growing up, and what do you listen to now?  Both of my parents had music degrees, so I was listening to Mozart Overtures and late-Beethoven string quartets while a toddler. We had season tickets to the Abilene Philharmonic since elementary school. As a teenager, I would listen to some pop music in high school. Now, I often listen to music that I’m preparing for upcoming concerts or classical favorites that speak to my soul.

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play?  Brahms and Mahler. It’s hard to choose between those two. They are both so emotionally complex in their music.

What advice would you give 14-year-old Debbie?  “Seriously, Debbie, talent is not enough. You need to practice more! Quit being quite so social!”

What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college?  If you think that you might do anything else, then don’t major in music. It has to consume you, like there’s nothing else in the world that you want to do. Then you will have sufficient drive and curiosity to learn everything you need to learn, as well as fit in all of the practice time.


What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound? Favorite sound: Rain falling on parched earth or waves hitting a beach. Least favorite sound: Anything that is so annoyingly repetitive that it’s like torture.

When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear?  Mahler conducting an orchestra of all of the great orchestral players that have gone before me playing the end of his Symphony No. 2, the Resurrection!

Now Hear This: an Interview with Quinn Mason, composer

Audiences at the first concert of the 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival will hear the World Premiere of Quinn Mason’s String Quartet No. 5. Mr. Mason is quite an accomplished composer, regardless of his young age. He grew up in Dallas and graduated from North Dallas High School. He first became acquainted with Fine Arts Chamber Players through an in-school demonstration by one of our troupes, and eventually was part of our scholarship program for private lessons.

Enjoy this interview with Mr. Mason to learn more about his process for composing, his history (including his first time in the audience at the DSO with rock star Sting on stage), and his interests.

Why was the String Quartet No. 5 selected for this concert?  This one is a representation of my current style. I’d say it marks the emergence of the compositional voice that I experiment with today. The fourth movement of this quartet has been performed before, but this is the first time the entire piece has been performed in public – it’s a World Premiere.


How old were you when you started playing an instrument? When you started composing?  When I was 10 I started piano classes at my elementary school. That led to an interest in exploring music more. I took private lessons and had extra practice on the keyboard after school. That led to improvising, exploring, and creating music.

After piano, I started the cello about 2 years later; and I did the recorder at school. Cello was my first experience playing with an ensemble through orchestra, the New Conservatory of Dallas. In high school, North Dallas High School, I joined band for the first time in the percussion section.

I was 10, actually, when I started composing. I even drew my own staff paper for my earliest pieces!


Can you walk us through your process of how you compose a piece?  Sometimes the idea comes first, sometimes the rhythm comes first. I’ll take all the ideas and put them in a little black notebook I keep. Eventually, I’ll put all the notes together and order them. Then one idea – a theme – will come to the forefront and I might voice that with a particular instrument, then fill out the other sections … essentially, it’s taking ideas and shaping them into a larger picture.


When did you decide to pursue a career as a composer?  In high school. It was my band director Mr. Warmanen who encouraged my composition by letting me composer for the band and letting me compose my own pieces for the band. And this was after I’d taken some time off from music in middle school.


What type of music did you listen to as a kid, and what do you listen to now?  My mom brought me up on ’80s and ’90s music, mostly R&B and hip-hop. So, classical music was something I had to seek out on my own through the radio. I still listen to classical music, but I’ve recently gotten into salsa music and Latin music, in general.


Growing up in Dallas, what were some arts organizations you interacted with?  FACP – I was a scholarship student and received free cello lessons in elementary and middle school. Once I left the cello, FACP was able to facilitate composition lessons for me.

I grew up in the audience at the DSO. First performance was seeing Sting in Peter & the Wolf at the DSO. I still remember that! That was a school trip.


Who’s your favorite composer to listen to?  Igor Stravinsky is my favorite of all time. It used to be Tchaikovsky, but once I heard “Rite of Spring, I thought – this is my man. The reason why I like Stravinsky so much is because he experimented with different styles, but he always sounds like himself at the same time. That’s unique and inspiring.


What advice would you give 14-year-old Quinn?  You’re not going to be an actor, stop writing screenplays. Practice more piano, listen to a lot more contemporary music because it’ll really open your mind. And, just be yourself – don’t try to be someone else.


What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college?   Make lots of friends and be very social because music is a universal experience and very collaborative. Be nice to everyone and don’t burn your bridges – those connections can really help you in college and in your career.


What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound (musical or non-musical)? Favorite sound – I’d have to say the sound of an orchestra tuning up. It’s very refreshing to hear lots of open strings and warming up. Least favorite sound – when people clap after the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6.


When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear?  I want to hear Stravinsky conduct his own “Rite of Spring.” That’s what I really want to hear.


New partnership struck with Texas Capital Bank

Funding supports first concert of free summer series; program includes World Premiere by up-and-coming local composer Quinn Mason

We are pleased to announce Texas Capital Bank as the Title Sponsor of the first concert of FACP’s 38th annual Basically Beethoven Festival. The performance is Sunday, July 1, at 2:30 p.m. in Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District.

“Texas Capital Bank is proud to support the Basically Beethoven Festival,” says Effie Dennison, Senior Vice President, Director of Community Development and Corporate Social Responsibility. “We see the power of music to enrich our community and provide wonderful opportunities for children, and we are happy we can take part in such a unique and special event.”

FACP’s Interim Executive Director Emily Guthrie adds, “Texas Capital Bank has shown tremendous leadership in the Dallas community, particularly in their efforts to reach underserved communities. We admire their outreach and feel a kinship between that and our work to break down barriers that prevent North Texans from experiencing and enjoying classical music. With support like this from Texas Capital Bank, we can continue to produce concerts of the highest caliber that are free for all to attend.”

For the 2018 Festival, FACP will produce FIVE FREE CONCERTS. Every program starts with a Rising Star Recital at 2:30 pm followed by a Feature Performance at 3 pm. Rising Star Recitals present local, gifted young musicians; Feature Performances showcase professional musicians from the area.

The July 1 Rising Star Recital features student musician Josephine Chiu, piano, joined on stage by the professional musicians of the afternoon’s Feature Performance and Scott Sheffler, bass. They will perform a chamber arrangement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.

The Feature Performance musicians, Florence Wang, violin; Sean Riley, violin; Rachel McDonald, viola; Joseph Kuipers, cello; come together for the World Premiere of Quinn Mason’s String Quartet No. 5. A Dallas ISD alumnus and former FACP scholarship student, he was a recipient of the Rogene Russell Scholarship Fund (named after FACP’s co-founder) in its inaugural year. He has won numerous awards for his compositions, including the Texas A&M University 2017 Chamber Music Symposium composition contest, the Voices of Change 2016 Texas Young Composers project, and the American Composers Forum 2015 NextNotes High School Competition. Among his recent notable commissions is a horn sonata for David Cooper (principal horn for the Berlin Philharmonic; former principal horn for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra), his Symphony No. 3 for the Dallas-based New Texas Symphony Orchestra, and a full-length orchestral work for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to be premiered in 2019.

The ensemble will also perform selected movements from Antonín Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12, Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major, Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet, op. 76 no. 3, “Emperor,” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 9.


OVERVIEW: 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival

  • All concerts are FREE. Families with children are welcome.
  • Sundays in July: July 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29.
  • Rising Star Recital at 2:30 pm, presenting local, gifted young musicians.
  • Feature Performance at 3 pm, showcasing professional area musicians.
  • Moody Performance Hall (formerly Dallas City Performance Hall): 2520 Flora Street, Dallas 75201. Doors open at 2 pm.


2018 Basically Beethoven Festival: July 1, “Eclectet” Presented by Texas Capital Bank

  • Rising Star Recital: Josephine Chiu, piano, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.
  • Feature Performance: Florence Wang, violin; Sean Riley, violin; Rachel McDonald, viola; Joseph Kuipers, cello.
  • World Premiere: String Quartet No. 5 by Quinn Mason.
  • Program also includes works by Dvorak, Ravel, Haydn, and Beethoven.

The Basically Beethoven Festival is made possible in part by Texas Capital Bank, WFAA Channel 8, DART, Texas Commission on the Arts, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, TACA, VisitDallas, and ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program. Since 1981, FACP has presented free classical music programs open to the public. In addition to the Basically Beethoven Festival, FACP presents free, monthly Bancroft Family Concerts October through May at the Dallas Museum of Art.  Since its inception, FACP has served over 225,000 children and performed for over a half-million residents of North Texas.

About Texas Capital Bank Texas Capital Bank, N.A. is a commercial bank that delivers highly personalized financial services to businesses and entrepreneurs. We are headquartered in Texas working with clients throughout the state and across the country. Texas Capital Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Texas Capital Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ®: TCBI) and is recognized as a Forbes Best Banks in America and the Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 Places To Work company. For more information, visit Member FDIC.