In the American Federation of Musicians, our purpose is to provide a way to live and WORK in the music business, to be treated with dignity and compensated fairly. Our union gives us a meaningful voice in decisions which affect us and our livelihoods because each member has a vote. We vow to treat each other with respect and dignity without regard to ethnicity, creed, gender, age, disability, citizenship, sexual orientation, marital or family status, or national origin. We oppose exploitation in any form through the force of our union solidarity. We honor the standards and expectations we set for ourselves by following the bylaws we collectively create, and we actively participate in the democratic institutions of our union.
The American Federation of Musicians was founded in 1896 to protect the interests and provide for the general welfare of musicians in this country. One year later, in 1897, the Musicians' Protective Union #65, AFM was formed in Houston, Texas. In October 1922 the union was officially incorporated with a slight name change, as Local #65 Musicians' Protective Association of AF of M. In 1965 an amendment to the name was voted upon and passed by the membership, and the new name of the organization officially became the Houston Professional Musicians' Association Local #65, AF of M. As the years passed, we merged with many smaller locals (Galveston, Beaumont) but the only merger which inspired an official name change was our merger with Local 699, the fabled black local which boasted superstars like Milt Larkin, Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, Hubert Laws, and Joe Sample. Today we are proud to be officially known as the Houston Professional Musicians' Association, Local #65-699, American Federation of Musicians!
Alex Navarro is a native of Houston, Texas. He currently serves as president of the Houston Professional Musicians’ Association, Local 65-699 of the American Federation of Musicians. Alex is also a regular music director of Theatre Under The Stars productions, pianist for the Houston Ballet Academy, and he remains highly in demand as a freelance musician. Alex’s career began in Los Angeles in where he was widely known as music director for Engelbert Humperdinck. Other notable recording and performance credits include artists Queen Latifah, Carly Simon, Rod Stewart, Art Garfunkel, Natasha Bedingfield, Rita Wilson, Doc Powell, Taylor Dayne, the Prague Philharmonic, the BBC Radio Orchestra, the Newark Symphony and the Omaha Symphony. Alex has also worked alongside producers Phil Ramone, Clive Davis, Richard Perry and Phil Galdston. Broadway credits include keyboardist for Waitress and the national tour of 42nd Street. Additionally, Navarro conducted the regional production of Grease for The Engeman Theater, as well as Spring Awakening and Seussical, The Musical for Theatre Under The Stars. Alex’s playing and arrangements can be heard on two Grammy-nominated albums, as well as two RIAA-certified gold records. He has appeared on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, The Late, Late Show, Regis and Kelly, The Ellen Show, The American Music Awards, The Martha Stewart Show and A&E Private Sessions. Navarro holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music from The University of North Texas and a Master’s in Music from New York University.
Adam Dinitz joined the Houston Symphony as solo English horn in September 2007. Prior to joining the Houston Symphony, Dinitz held positions with the San Francisco Symphony, The Florida Orchestra, and the Sarasota Orchestra. He has participated in many summer festivals, including the Tanglewood Music Center, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Spoleto USA, and the St. Bart’s Music Festival, among others. Dinitz is an active soloist and chamber musician and was recently featured with Da Camera of Houston, as well as with The Greenbriar Consortium. In July 2005, Dinitz was selected to perform the world premiere of John Harbison’s Crossing in memory of Phil West at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado. Dinitz is the co-founder of Noncert, a concert series which seeks to perform classical music outside of traditional venues. A native of suburban Washington, D.C., Dinitz received his Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University and Master of Music from Rice University.
Sharon Montgomery is a vocalist and known penny pincher who originally joined Local 802 in 1985 as a member of the vocal trio Montgomery, Plant, & Stritch. It wasn’t her first union affiliation though—she had joined Actor’s Equity in 1980 while a member of the company at Houston’s Alley Theatre. Sharon is a member in good standing of Actor’s Equity and the American Federation of Musicians to this day. Her affiliation with the AFM was officially moved to Local 65-699 in 1996. She believes that union membership may very well be the last true shot at democracy available to the working people of this country these days. A card carrying member of the “I was almost famous” club, she’ll happily regale you, if asked, with stories of time spent in the company of and onstage with jazz legends at festivals and performances in the US, Canada, the UK, and Europe. These days she can be found squeezing nickels on behalf of the good members of Local 65-699, Monday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, at the union hall. And loving it.
A native of Korea, violinist Hae-a moved to England when she was three years old. She won a scholarship to attend the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester at the age of ten. She studied violin and piano in addition to all academic subjects, which allowed her to attend St Hilda’s College, Oxford University to read Music. She continued taking private lessons with David Takeno in London. She moved to the USA in 1990, initially to Florida and then to Texas.
Hae-a became a member of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra in 1999 and has performed with the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, Mercury Orchestra, Bach Society and Ars Lyrica Houston regularly since then. She has participated in numerous instrumental and operatic recordings ranging from Handel and Rameau to Carlisle Floyd and Jake Heggie. In addition she has worked as Personnel Manager (Symphony of Southeast Texas), Music Administration Assistant (HGO) and as Assistant Music Librarian (HSO, HGO and HB).
Hae-a is part of a musical family that spans the globe. Her sister, Su-a Lee is Sub-Principal Cello of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a founding member of Mr McFall’s Chamber, an award-winning eclectic ensemble in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her sister, Song-a Lee is an established free-lance violinist in Los Angeles, California and can be heard on numerous movies, award and TV shows. Hae-a is married to award-winning luthier, Dorian Barnes. She plays on a very special violin that he made and gave to her as a wedding present.
Amanda is from Friendswood, Texas. In 2012, she became the Principal Bassoonist of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Second Bassoonist of the Houston Ballet Orchestra. She received her BM at the University of Texas at Austin where she studied with Kristin Wolfe Jensen and her MM at Northwestern University where she studied with Christopher Millard. She was the Second Place winner in the 2012 Fernand Gillet-Hugo Fox Bassoon Competition. She was a founding member of the Chicago-based contemporary ensemble The City of Tomorrow, who won the Gold Medal in the Senior Wind Division of the Fischoff Competition in 2011. Other accomplishments include winning First Prize in the Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition (2010), being a semi-finalist in the Heida Hermanns International Woodwind Competition (2007), and being selected as an alternate for the Gillet-Fox International Competition for Bassoon (2010). She has been a guest artist, teacher, and speaker at universities and conferences throughout the United States, and she has played with numerous top-level orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and the Jacksonville Symphony. Amanda is also the Vice President of the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA). She previously served ROPA as Delegate (2015-2018) and Member-at-Large on the Executive Board (2017-2018). She is a proud member of Houston Professional Musicians’ Association, Local 65-699, where she serves on the Executive Board.
Samuel Dinkins III
Drummer / Percussionist / Artist / Author Clinician / Producer Sam Dinkins III has been a member of Local 65-699 since 1990. Founder and director of the Dinky Drum Company, LLC (DDC) located in Houston, Texas – DDC is a music education, performance and entertainment company since 1989, whose mission is, “To provide knowledge and experiences which promote the enjoyment of music for a lifetime.” DDC School of Music is where children and adults learn about music through private and group instruction, performances, clinics, workshops & recitals. As an educator, Mr. Dinkins’ work includes: Percussion Specialist for the Central District of the Houston ISD; music teacher at Parker Elementary School (the 2002 National GRAMMY Signature Elementary School)-an HISD Music Magnet School; and percussion instructor at many music camps around the United States. His award-winning educational programs for inner-city youth have received funding from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County; the Texas Commission for the Arts; the Evin Thayer Scholarship Fund (2002 inaugural Recipient) and numerous foundations. Mr. Dinkins is one of the Educational Artists for “DaCamera of Houston” (1998-present) performing in its “Beyond the Concert Hall” community outreach programs and the “DaCamera in the Schools-Rhythm Residency Program”. With DDC Educational Shows, he is developing, presenting, and performing at schools, libraries, churches, and community centers throughout Texas. He’s been featured on Heartbeat of America’s National Television Show, “Keeping America Strong”. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he is an accomplished performer and producer who has worked with the NYC Metropolitan Orchestra, Howard University Bands and Ensembles, Houston Symphony, Scott Joplin Chamber Orchestra, the Gospel Music Workshop of America, and A-list artists from the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin to jazz greats Lionel Hampton and (Houston’s own) Hubert Laws and Joe Sample. He has traveled extensively through the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and China with numerous Gospel, Jazz, Latin and Rhythm & Blues artists. Mr. Dinkins is a member of Texas Music Educators of America; the Percussive Arts Society; a Life member of Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity, Inc., NAMM, NARAS and several other professional organizations. He is also the proud father of two musical sons, Samuel, IV & Samson Lee.
Based in Houston, violist Yvonne Smith performs frequently with Bach Society Houston, La Follia Austin Baroque, Ars Lyrica Houston, and American Bach Soloists (San Francisco). In 2016, Yvonne founded la speranza, an ensemble that explores and illuminates the connection between music and wellness through their historically informed performances of wind and string chamber music in Houston communities. Yvonne also appears regularly in the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, Houston Ballet, and Grant Park Orchestra (Chicago). She coaches chamber music at the American Festival for the Arts (AFA) and teaches viola lessons at her home and through Tallowood Academy of Fine Arts. Yvonne earned her Master and Bachelor of Music degrees in Viola Performance from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University under the tutelage of Joan DerHovsepian and James Dunham. More information is available at www.yvonnesmithviola.com.
A native New Yorker, Matthew Dickson moved to Houston in 2001, transferring his union membership to Local 65-699. Before coming to Houston, he toured throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan with various Broadway musicals. Matthew is an active freelance musician in the Houston area, in orchestral, operatic, chamber, and commercial music. He is a member of Theatre Under The Stars, and Opera in the Heights on tenor & bass trombone, euphonium and tuba, and has performed with the Houston Symphony, the Houston Grand Opera, and the Houston Ballet. He can be found frequently in the pit of Broadway Across America tours, and also playing with the Royal Dukes Band. Past distinctions include being the first brass instrumentalist to win the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Concerto Competition, along with being a prize winner at the Eastern Trombone workshop solo competition. He has performed internationally with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Orquestra de Mineria, and the Santo Domingo Music Festival in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Dickson holds degrees from The New England Conservatory of Music, Yale University, and the University of Houston. He is an active music educator and low brass instructor.
Ryan Rongone maintains an active freelance career as a trombonist in the Houston area. Currently, he is a member of the Houston Brass Quintet and the Principal Trombonist of the Houston British Brass Band. He is also a regular substitute with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Ballet, and the Houston Jazz Orchestra. His career includes performances with Ryan Shaw, Dave Bennett, Tony DeSare, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Lionel Cole, Chris Botti, Sal Lozano, and Johnny Mathis. Education plays a vital role in the life of Ryan Rongone. He works as a teacher and clinician at several schools in the Greater Houston area. He also travels to Cuba every other year to coach and perform with the students of the Conservatorio de Musica Estaban Salas in Santiago de Cuba.