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Performing for the Bitterroot Valley since 2021, we were born out of necessity. 

All public performances halls were closed. Our music making needed an outlet. 

In the sanctuary of private homes, Regal was born. 

We found it was the home we had been missing all along.  


Specializing in the salon concert, our unique music ensemble fights the stereotypical experience of the distant concert stage, and instead creates an intimate experience ripe for inviting conversation with both musicians and patrons alike. Bringing the concert experience home is not a new concept.

The salon concert has existed since the 1800s, and we believe it's time to have a resurgence. 

Once you attend a salon concert with Regal, you'll be as enthralled as we are. 


​Regal Ensemble musicians perform locally, nationally, and internationally. 

We come together in the Bitterroot Mountains. 

Dr. Joel Schnackel, bassist and arranger
Dr. Joel Schnackel, Co-Director

In addition to leading the bass section in the Missoula Symphony, Dr. Joel Schnackel is an avid performer throughout Montana as bassist with the String Orchestra of the Rockies, the Billings Symphony, and the Helena Symphony. He is also one of the founding members of Regal Ensemble in Hamilton, Mt.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Montana, Dr. Schnackel was adjunct professor of double bass and musicology at the University of Central Arkansas. He also taught the courses: Introduction to Music, History of Rock n Roll, Folk and Popular Music, Music Theory, and Music Appreciation at the University of Memphis. He performed throughout the mid-south as principal bassist with the Conway Symphony and section bass in Jackson, North Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tuscaloosa Symphonies, as well as the Savannah Philharmonic.

Dr. Schnackel is co-author of the popular music appreciation text, The Musical Experience, which is used in several universities across the United States. He holds a Ph.D. in historical musicology from the University of Memphis, a M.M. in double bass performance from the University of Memphis, and a B.A. in music composition and technology from the University of Montana.

Rachel Fellows-Schnackel, violinist and violist
Rachel Fellows-Schnackel, Co-Director 

In addition to her time with Regal Ensemble, Rachel serves as Principal 2nd Violin with the Missoula Symphony, as well as in the violin section of String Orchestra of the Rockies. Most recently, she joined the Montana Youth Symphony summer festival as violin coach. Prior to moving to Montana, Rachel performed across the Mid-south with the Memphis Symphony, Nashville Opera, North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra as Associate Concertmaster, and Tupelo Ballet as Concertmaster.  
An avid teacher, Rachel shares a private studio here in Hamilton with her husband Joel. Her expertise emphasizes Suzuki philosophy: where anyone can learn a musical instrument through ability development. Great influencers in her journey include teacher Kevin Lawrence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she received a Bachelors and Masters in Music Performance. Schnackel concluded her university studies with an Artist Diploma at the University of Memphis studying with teacher Soh-Hyun Altino.
Schnackel has recorded for Netflix films, and on the Tocatta Classics and Naxos labels. She shares her days on their farm, The Music Farm, with her husband Joel and homeschooling their 3 energetic children: Kelton, Aubrey, and Riley.

Tasha Athman Fain, violinist and soprano
Tasha Athman Fain

Tasha Athman Fain wears many hats as a singer, actor, violinist, and private music teacher. After training in classical violin and voice, she returned to the Bitterroot Valley to raise her family, where she is fortunate to engage in opportunities that combine her varied skills and interests. Tasha is frequently seen onstage with Intermountain Opera Bozeman, appearing as the Dew Fairy in Hansel

and Gretel, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Mrs. Nordstrom in A Little Night Music (in collaboration with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks), and at numerous Sweet Pea Festival performances. She has sung in operas with Montana Lyric Opera, Bel Canto Northwest, Flagstaff in Fidenza, Italy, and OperaWorks. She was featured as soprano soloist with the Missoula Symphony Orchestra on Beethoven’s Fidelio Quartet and Choral Fantasy and appears as soprano soloist with the Bitterroot Valley Chorus. Tasha most often is seen locally stepping into her musical theatre shoes in memorable roles with Missoula Community Theatre and Hamilton Players. Tasha is a section violinist with the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and previously was a member of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. Not able to stay too far from the musical theatre stage, when she is not singing in the cast, she enjoys playing violin in pit bands with Missoula Community Theatre, Hamilton Players, and AM Theatricals. She serves her community as an adjudicator for music festivals and competitions, directs youth programing and musical theatre camps, is a long-time church musician, and teaches violin, viola, and

voice. Tasha holds undergraduate degrees in voice and violin from Saint Olaf College, a Master's in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from Northern Arizona University, and a Master's in Vocal Performance

from The Boston Conservatory.

Esther Fellows pic.jpeg
Esther Fellows

Esther Fellows is a registered Violin Teacher Trainer by the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SSA). She currently resides in Mounds Oklahoma, where she maintains a Suzuki private studio. was the Suzuki Violin Teacher/Teacher Trainer at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater for 2017-2022, as well ask teaching violin and piano in the OSU Community Music School. 


An active professional performer as well, Fellows is a 1st violinist with the Signature Symphony (Tulsa OK), violist with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra (Tulsa OK), and was previously Principal Viola with the Arkansas Philharmonic (Bentonville AR) and Assistant Concertmaster with the Bartlesville Symphony (Bartlesville OK). Fellows served as secretary on the Board of Directors for the SAA and has served as President of the Tulsa Area Music Teachers Association.

Fellows has been published in the American Music Teacher and in American String Teacher. Undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder were under Oswald Lehnert (violin), Abraham Chavez (violin), Ruth Morrow (viola), and Guy Duckworth and Storm Bull (piano).

Jim Fellows

James Fellows is instructor of bassoon at the University of Tulsa. Currently serving as principal bassoon with the Signature Symphony, Fellows’ affiliation with the orchestra dates to 1984. For 19 years, he also served as manager of the orchestra. 


An active freelance musician in NE Oklahoma, he has also performed extensively in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles and Denver. Fellows has also been principal bassoon with the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra (OK) and the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, and has performed with: The Denver Symphony, Solisti New York, Central City Opera (CO), Tulsa Philharmonic, North Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and numerous others in Florida, Southern California, and Colorado. 

He has been active in church music, both as a singer, instrumentalist, and as a choral and orchestra conductor. Fellows has appeared numerous times as soloist with the Signature Symphony, as well as the Bartlesville Symphony, Denver Symphony, the University of Colorado Chamber Orchestra, and the Ft Collins Symphony (CO). Fellows studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and has received Suzuki Teacher Training in flute. As with J.S. Bach, he believes that performance of music should reflect all glory to God.

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Dr. Adam Collins

Dr. Adam Collins enjoys an international career as a chamber and orchestral cellist. He has performed in orchestras across the United States, Canada, and Korea, having recently served as the principal cellist of l’Orchestre de la Francophonie, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, and the Mobile, Pensacola, Albany, and Columbus Symphony Orchestras. As a sought-after and innovative chamber musician, Adam has performed on the Master Players Concert Series and on chamber music series at the Busan Maru International Music Festival and the Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy. Adam’s interests in interdisciplinary collaboration and engaging new audiences are reflected in his recent endeavors such as a recording project with the Martha Graham Dance Company, an interactive chamber music recital at the University of Delaware Museum of Art, and performances of string quartets of Beethoven and Shostakovich at jazz clubs and coffee houses in Tallahassee, FL. A fierce advocate of new music and music by underrepresented composers, Adam has premiered numerous works and collaborated with prominent contemporary composers such as Ellen Taafe Zwilich and Louis Andriessen.

Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Montana, Adam has taught cello, chamber music, music theory, and string methods at Florida State University and the University of Delaware as a graduate assistant. Adam completed his doctorate at Florida State University, where he studied with Professor Greg Sauer and a member of the award-winning Eppes Quartet. Adam also holds a certificate in music theory pedagogy from Florida State University. A native of Aberdeen, NC, Adam has also studied at the University of Delaware with Lawrence Stomberg and at Furman University with Christopher Hutton.

Thomas Hensley

A native Western Montanan, Thomas Hensley is a proud father, and partner. With over 23 years of active involvement in Western Montana’s music community, Thomas is a talented and accomplished performer and director. He has graced the stage in roles such as Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Lt. Joe Cable

in Roger’s and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, co-starred as brother Marco in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, Bud in Jason Robert Brown’s Bridges of Madison County, Dr. Blind in J. Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, as well as many others. Having been a featured soloist for the Missoula Symphony Orchestra on several occasions, he enjoys performing oratorio, art song, and arias for events public and private. Currently the Director of the Missoula Mendelssohn Club, Thomas also has an extensive background as a choral director. Having studied choral conducting privately for 2 years with Dr. David Edmonds, he directed the University Choir, and directed Atonement Lutheran’s Church’s choir in Missoula. He was also mentored by Dr. Ron Wilcott during his time as Associate Director of the Missoula Community Chorus. Previously, Thomas was the choral director at Immanuel Lutheran Church in the 2000’s after earning his undergraduate degree in vocal performance. His musical skills have been honed through decades of active participation in choirs, operas and musicals in Montana and throughout Europe, as well as through close direction from his generous teachers and mentors.

Kathy Melander
Kathy Melander

Kathy Mellander, violist (and violinist), has made her way to the Bitterroot Valley via New York State and Wyoming.  Her roots in chamber music were formed in college, where she participated for four years in a chamber music program at Haverford College, coached by the DePasquale Quartet from the Philadelphia Orchestra.


After college, she performed in chamber groups in upstate New York including the Keuka Quartet, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Festival Chamber Players of Elmira, Lake George Opera, Delaware Valley Opera, the Syracuse Candlelight Quartet, the Ontario Chamber Orchestra, and the Syracuse based Candlelight Quartet. She was also a section violist with the Albany Symphony and the Rochester Festival Orchestra. 


From being a full time musician, she acquired a degree in environmental science and began work with the National Park Service in 2002.  She and her husband moved to Wyoming, where Kathy worked in Grand Teton National Park until 2017, when the Mellanders moved to Corvallis, Montana. She retired from the National Park Service in 2017, returning to her roots as a chamber musician.  She is currently associate principal viola with the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and a violist in Bitterroot Baroque, a Hamilton based orchestra performing Baroque music on period instruments.  Kathy also performs with the Classical Strings, a new trio/quartet based in Hamilton.  She is very happy to join with the Regal Ensemble for this exciting concert series!

Eric Monson

Eric Monson returned home to the Bitterroot Valley from New York City 12 years ago and has since been teaching voice lessons full-time. He also teaches the Musical Theatre class at GROOVZ studio of dance. He earned degrees in vocal performance and theatre from Concordia College where he enjoyed singing in its choir led by René Clausen. While in the Fargo/Moorhead area, he performed in The Tender Land (Mr. Splinters), The Mikado, The Merry Widow, Children of Eden (Father), A Little Night Music (Fredrik). Eric ventured on to Philadelphia and then years later on to New York City. He enjoys being in choirs, operas, musicals, and

plays. His favorites include: numerous professional church choirs, performing in Donald Nally’s Opera Company of Philadelphia’s chorus for 5 years where Eric’s two favorite productions were Don Pasquale and Les pêcheurs de perles, Regina, Der Schauspieldirektor (Monsieur Vogelsang), Bastien und Bastienne (Bastien), La finta giardiniera (Contino Belfiore), Die Fledermaus (Eisenstein), Candide (Candide), Wuthering Heights: A Romantic Musical (Edgar), Saddam: The Musical (Andrew Lloyd Webber), The King and I (King), Sweeney Todd (Sweeney Todd), Into the Woods (Cinderella’s Prince), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor Graydon), Fiddler on the Roof (Fyedka, Bottle Dancer), Damn Yankees (Joe Hardy), Chicago (Billy Flynn),

Tony n' Tina's Wedding (Michael Just), The Diary of Anne Frank (Mr. Van Daan), Pride & Prejudice (Mr. Darcy), 12 Angry Men (Juror #3) Eric also enjoys being creative off the stage by music directing and directing shows: Return to the Forbidden Planet, The Sound of Music, Singin' in the Rain, Fiddler on the Roof, Once Upon a Mattress, Boeing Boeing, Oliver! This spring will be filled with singing in Dolce Canto and with being mesmerized while listening to Jacob Collier’s music.

Arielle Nachtigal

A true Montana girl at heart, Soprano Arielle Nachtigal has traveled far and wide to sing amongst the mountains and pursue her passion for opera, operetta, and musical theater. After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Montana’s School of Music, she received her Master of Music

degree from the Eastman School of Music in Vocal Performance and Literature. There, she performed in master classes for Renee Fleming, Nicole Cabell, Federico Sacchi, and Benton Hess. She has performed the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Carmela in Mese mariano, Emily in Ned Rorem’s Our Town,

and Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro. She spent one summer in Urbania, Italy to study the Italian language and opera, then two summers championing operetta and golden age musicals with the Ohio Light Opera.Closer to home, she has graced the stage as La Ciesca in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and the Sour Kangaroo in Seussical the Musical. For musical theater, she has music directed for the Bigfork Summer Playhouse, produced and performed in Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World, and taught private voice lessons for Missoula Children’s Theater’s Next Step Prep. Recently, she music directed You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Footloose Jr., Winnie the Pooh Jr., and co- music directed

and performed in Into the Woods at the Missoula Children’s Theatre and Missoula Community Theatre.

Kyle Unruh

Kyle began playing violin at age three in Missoula, MT under the instruction of Dr. Gerlad Doty. Starting on the Suzuki Method, Kyle was part of the Missoula Suzuki community and participated in local and regional Suzuki institutes in his formative years. After growing his repertoire, taking an increasing interest in chamber music, and playing in a variety of competitions and Summer festivals, Kyle studied violin performance at university completing his Bachelor of Music at Central Washington University. He is also an alumnus of the Brevard Music Center and Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival. Kyle remains passionate about solo, chamber, and orchestral playing. He resides in Missoula, MT with his wife and two daughters. 

Fern Glass Boyd

Fern Glass Boyd has made her home in Western Montana since 1979, when she joined the music faculty as Professor of Cello at the University of Montana in Missoula.  During her long career at UM, she taught various courses in music, as well as in the performance areas of applied cello and chamber music.  She also served as Principal Cellist of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and performed as a member of the Montana Piano Trio, a UM faculty resident ensemble.  In 1985, she co-founded the String Orchestra of the Rockies [SOR], the only professional conductor-less orchestra in the state of Montana, and served as its Principal Cellist until her retirement in 2018.  As the SOR’s Artistic Director for ten years, she managed and oversaw the orchestra’s many outreach activities and performances throughout Montana and the region.  She has appeared across the US and Western Europe as a soloist, educator, and clinician, and been featured on two commercial albums with the SOR:  Beneath a Northern Sky and We’ll Be Together Again.  

Fern began her early music training at the Settlement Music School in her native Philadelphia and went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and a Master’s degree from Yale University.  Her lifelong passion for the arts continues to be a major focus and she currently serves as a Board member of the Seeley Lake Community Foundation.  As residents of Seeley Lake, she and her husband, Lance, enjoy exploring the outdoors and staying connected to the community and its beautiful natural landscape.

Mac Merchant, pianist
Mac Merchant

Mac Merchant is a collaborative pianist and vocal coach hailing from Stevensville, Montana. He studied at University of Colorado, Boulder for his Master of Music degree in collaborative piano with Alexandra Nguyen and Margaret McDonald. He received his bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Whitworth University and his master’s degree in piano performance from Washington State University. Mac’s first job was playing for church services at the age of 14, when he realized he could be paid to something he loved. He also took voice lessons in high school, discovering his love for singing as well as working with singers. Since then, Mac has collaborated with numerous musicians, both professional and student level, choral and instrumental ensembles, and theater groups in Washington state, Montana, and Colorado.


One of Mac's favorite gigs was playing a keyboard part in the national touring production of Wicked. Currently Mac is a vocal coach for singers at the University of Montana as well as a freelance collaborative pianist and music director in the Missoula area, serving as pianist for Dolce Canto and Stevensville United Methodist Church. Mac is passionate about advocating for the role of the collaborative pianist in school and professional settings as well as training and

mentoring future collaborative pianists.

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