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For Immediate Release

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra 

Names Two Conducting Fellows 

as Part of New Training Program

Press Contact

Katie Kelly
Communications Manager
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
817-665- 6500

FORT WORTH, TX— July 2, 2019 The Fort Worth Symphony announces the appointment of Alex Amsel and Stephanie Rhodes Russell as Conducting Fellows for the orchestra for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. Amsel and Rhodes Russell are the first two participants in a substantially reconceived and expanded conductor training program with a goal of increasing its impact on early-career conductors and the symphony field.

FWSO Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya, known as an exceptional developer of young conducting talent, recently led a series of three Fundamentals of Conducting workshops in Fort Worth. The workshops were designed to present an overview of the foundations of orchestral conducting and to provide opportunities for young musicians to develop a basic knowledge and guidance of score study, conducting techniques, overall musicianship, and leadership. “In my experience of working with young conductors over the past 25 years, I have become more aware that there is a significant gap in conductor training, even from the best conservatories and universities,” stated Harth-Bedoya. “This gap leaves many young conductors short of the training they need to be fully effective in front of a top-quality orchestra such as the FWSO.”

The new program addresses these gaps by creating opportunities for Conducting Fellows to hone their craft under the tutelage of Harth-Bedoya and other conductors. Historically, FWSO Assistant Conductors have been employed in one-year contracts to conduct community and education concerts and to serve as backup conductors for the Symphonic Series. With this new program, the Conducting Fellows will each be engaged for two seasons with the orchestra. The longer duration of the program will give the Conducting Fellows more opportunities to develop their skills, and their roles have been restructured as a blend of coaching sessions with Harth-Bedoya and rehearsal and performance opportunities with the orchestra in the community.

“Miguel and I are both equally excited about this new approach, as we feel that it fills an important national need in conductor training,” stated Keith Cerny, Ph.D., FWSO President and CEO. “We are committed to developing the talent of up-and-coming conductors, and this new program strikes a perfect balance between guided professional development opportunities and ‘hands-on’ performance experience.”

About Alex Amsel

Argentinian-born conductor Alex Amsel is quickly establishing himself as a conductor who is equally at home with orchestral and operatic repertoire, as well as in music education for students of all ages. Amsel has worked as Cover Conductor for Baltimore, Indianapolis, Fort Worth, and New Hampshire Symphonies. For the summer of 2019, he was selected as the Assistant Conductor for the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado where he will lead the orchestra in multiple subscription concerts. Amsel’s recent engagements include Assistant Conductor and Choir Master for the Peabody Conservatory Symphonies and Opera, and Faculty Conductor for the Philadelphia International Music Festival. Summer engagements have seen Amsel as Associate at the Cabrillo Music Festival, Assistant Conductor for the Hot Springs and Miami Festivals, and he has also appeared with the Monteux School Festival Orchestra. He was the winner of the Miami Music Festival Conducting Competition and led the Miami Music Festival Orchestra in concert at the New World Center.

As an educator, Amsel has been on the faculty for the Philadelphia International Music Festival and the Houston Youth Symphony. Additionally, he taught with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas in Jamaica and Dominican Republic. He served the Baltimore community in several ways through the Creative Leadership and Implementing Social Development programs. Through these, Amsel helped connect the Peabody Conservatory to the greater Baltimore community by helping emerging music programs at low-income schools. He helped students in creating original compositions that reflect their daily lives while discussing the importance of music and how it can supplement a young person’s life through communication, open discussions, and vocal leadership. He has been a featured performer and taught masterclasses through these organizations, as well as having had an active private bassoon studio of over 30 weekly students in Austin and Houston, Texas.

Amsel recently completed his studies under the tutelage of Marin Alsop at the Peabody Conservatory as a Graduate Assistant while working towards his Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting. He has worked closely with Larry Rachleff, Cristian Macelaru, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and Octavio Mas-Arocas. Additionally, he has appeared in festivals and masterclasses with David Effron, Ludovic Morlot, and Peter Bay. He has conducting experience with Baltimore and Fort Worth Symphonies, Buffalo Philharmonic, as well as the New England Conservatory and Peabody Conservatory orchestras.

Contemporary music is at the forefront in Amsel's musical journey and he has premiered works both as conductor and instrumentalist. He has led recording sessions of world premieres at Peabody Conservatory, Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, and the University of Houston. Amsel was selected to participate in the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music while closely working with Cristian Macelaru.

As a bassoonist, Amsel has appeared with such orchestras as the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and Round Top Festival Orchestra and held positions with the Boston Philharmonic, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival, Austin Lyric Orchestra, Symphony of Southeast Texas, and Orchestra of Indian Hill.

When not studying music, Amsel is a hiking, wine, and Golden Retriever aficionado.

About Stephanie Rhodes Russell

Stephanie Rhodes Russell is the newly appointed Associate Conductor of the Grand Teton Music Festival. This summer she leads the orchestra in their Family Concert and performs as both conductor and pianist in the Chamber Music Concert Series. She is the recipient of a 2019 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, designed to aid outstanding young conductors in developing their talents and careers.

Ms. Rhodes Russell makes her European conducting debut in Fall 2019 with Staatsoper Stuttgart’s Junge Oper im Nord and returns to the Dallas Opera to serve as Cover Conductor for Rossini’s Barber of Seville. She recently conducted Handel’s Alcina for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, following an engagement with Washington National Opera’s forum for new works, the American Opera Initiative.

In 2015 she was selected to participate in the inaugural Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera and subsequently joined the Miami Summer Music Festival to conduct performances of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. As a Fulbright award recipient, Ms. Rhodes Russell spent the 2012/13 season in Moscow specializing in Russian repertoire and pronunciation for non-native singers while working as a guest coach at the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia. She was commissioned by The Dallas Opera to transliterate Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and teaches workshops on Russian diction for singers at young artist programs and universities across the United States.

Stephanie is a renowned opera collaborator and has served on the music staff of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, The Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, LA Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Washington National Opera, amongst others. Her extensive operatic experience extends beyond conducting and she brings a comprehensive understanding of the roles of assistant conductor, prompter, chorusmaster, rehearsal pianist, and diction coach to her work.

As founder and Board Chair of the non-profit Women’s Artistic Leadership Initiative (Women’s ALI), she is dedicated to the education and empowerment of young female artists, training them to become future community leaders by equipping them with both leadership skills and business acumen. An alum of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and San Francisco’s Merola Opera program, she holds degrees in Collaborative Piano and Piano Performance from the University of Michigan and Utah State University respectively and a doctorate in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Utah.

About Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is deeply committed to uniting its community through performance, education, and outreach, reaching an audience of more than 200,000 annually. Since its beginnings in 1912, the FWSO has been an essential thread in the city’s cultural fabric and the very foundation of Fort Worth’s performing arts. Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya, now concluding his 19th season at the artistic helm of the FWSO, has led the orchestra into the 21st century to new levels of excellence. Under his leadership, the FWSO has performed at Carnegie Hall and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras. Throughout his tenure, the FWSO has released 13 recordings – with several being world premiere releases – garnering international acclaim. Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the FWSO have embraced creative collaborations through residencies, partnerships, and commissions. As the principal resident company of the acoustically superb Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, the Orchestra performs a full season of concerts featuring internationally-acclaimed guest artists and works by living composers. The Orchestra performs and partners with the Texas Ballet Theater, Fort Worth Opera, The Cliburn, and Performing Arts Fort Worth. Each summer at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, the FWSO presents Concerts In The Garden – a series of family-friendly concerts that has become a city-wide tradition. Additionally, the orchestra hosts an annual Festival of Orchestras, providing an opportunity for non-professional orchestras across the state of Texas to perform in Bass Performance Hall. The FWSO keeps exceptional musical experiences at the heart of its community. After all—life is better with music!

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