Concentus Members

Conductor

Gwen Gassler, conductor Buffalo native Gwendolyn Hall Gassler earned a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Donald Neuen. Her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Colgate University included conducting studies with Marietta Cheng, organ performance with Mary Ann Dodd, and an Early Music seminar in Switzerland.

Ms. Gassler has worked as a professional church musician in both Buffalo and Rochester. She served as the assistant conductor of the Rochester Oratorio Society for 20 years, and conducted the High Holy Days ceremonies for Temple Sinai for 6 years. She co-founded Concentus in 2001 with Edna Yeh, who is now based in California, where she is founder and director of Pacific Women’s Chorus.

The Singers

Group picture

Anna Atwater has earned degrees from Austin Peay State University (Vocal Performance) and SUNY Fredonia (Music Education). In addition to singing with Concentus, she is a member of the Eastman Community Chamber Singers and gives private voice lessons in Albion, where she teaches K-5 General Music and 3rd-5th Grade Choruses.

After hearing Concentus on WXXI radio one December, Michelle Young Brown quickly investigated joining us. Michelle completed her Music Education degree at Eastman School of Music, and is currently a member of the Spanish faculty of the University of Rochester. She and her husband, Mark, returned to Rochester in 2009 after spending six years in the Dominican Republic, where Mark helped found a primary care health clinic. They live in Brighton with their 16-year old daughter, Lydia, and rescue dog, Reina.

Tansy Deutsch finds that singing with Concentus is a perfect balance to her work as a psychologist in independent practice. She lives in the city, and enjoys being in the middle of a plethora of creative projects, including gardening, making music, writing poetry, raising sea creatures, and dreaming of travel. It is a very good life!

Jenna Farley (on sabbatical) teaches first and second grade in the Rush-Henrietta Central School district. She is a graduate of Roberts Wesleyan College and the University of Connecticut. She enjoyed singing throughout high school and college, and now enjoys making her elementary students sing in the classroom! Besides teaching and singing, Jenna loves serving on the music and children’s ministry teams at her church, reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. Jenna lives in Chili with her family.

Kathy Grant, a graduate of New England Conservatory, has performed opera and oratorio works in France, Switzerland and across the USA. A founding member of “The Three Sopranos” of Hot Springs, AR, Kathy has sung with Rochester Oratorio Society, Eastman Rochester Chorus and Madrigalia, and serves on the boards of Heart Based Institute and Home Instead. By day, she serves as the joyful Marketing & Communications Director of Catholic Family Center.

Cathy Heckert is a Registered Nurse practicing in the fields of Staff Development and Intellectual Disabilities. Cathy enjoys singing as a soloist and on the Praise Team at the Abundant Life Bible Church. She and her husband, George have joined the exclusive “Grandparent Club” and are enjoying the wonderful benefits included! We are happy to have Cathy as our musical colleague.

Donna Himmelberg serves as Concentus Marketing Chair. She teaches chemistry at Fairport High School where she is actively involving students with NASA research aboard reduced gravity flights. She truly flies like an angel! Donna lives in Fairport with her husband, two boys, and a dog and looks forward to every Sunday evening rehearsal for a harmonious escape.

Dede Holmes is the bee’s knees, and brings enthusiasm and joy to every project. A graduate of Syracuse University (Go Big Orange!) and Nazareth College, she is an anchor member of our alto section. Dede directs the Children’s Choirs at First Presbyterian, and sings not only classical music, but also jazz, blues and rock and roll.

Laura Jones discovered her passion for choral music during her days at Penfield High School, and as an adult has sung a wide repertoire with groups including the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo Choir. A career counselor at the University of Rochester, she attended Tufts University as an undergraduate, and received her Master’s degree from the University at Buffalo. She shares her love of making music with her 10-year-old son, who plays the trumpet and hums to himself continuously.

Paige Iovine is a recent graduate of the University of Rochester with a dual degree in vocal performance and brain & cognitive sciences. While at the University of Rochester, Paige sang under the direction of Dr. Philip Silvey in the U of R/Eastman Women’s Chorus, which performed one of her compositions during the 2013 Women in Music Festival at the Eastman School of Music. When not science-ing or singing she enjoys belly dancing, video gaming, and (occasionally) writing music.

Kara Juszczak has been a member since 2007 and serves as Chair of the Concentus Board of Directors. Kara studied with Dr. Pamela Kurau at SUNY Geneseo where she double majored in Vocal Performance and Psychology, her other passion. She is a compassionate psychotherapist, specializing in grief/loss, anxiety, and meditation/mindfulness. Kara is also an adjunct professor with the Greater Rochester Collaborative Master of Social Work program. She lives in North Chili with her husband, Jason, and their two sons Riley and Avery.

Sarah Kelsick (on sabbatical) graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Voice and moved to Chicago where she performed in musicals, operas, and choirs. Thanks to her English minor, she has held an endless variety of jobs including blogging, accounting, and personal assisting. She and her husband moved to Rochester, NY in 2014 where she has found a new love teaching voice lessons to young singers. Sarah adores her time in such a compact area filled with culture and music-loving folk, and we adore her!

Rebecca Kolstad (on sabbatical), Soprano, lives with Paul and their Daughter Sarah in Pittsford. She works with her family owned business as a Manufacturer’s Representative in the construction market. Rebecca is past Chair of the Concentus Board of Directors, and enjoys spending her free time singing with Concentus. She has also sung locally with Eastman Rochester Chorus and the Opera Theatre of Rochester.

Kate McCurdy is a Rochester native who is thrilled to be singing with Concentus again after a three-year hiatus. She recently moved back to the area after earning her J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law. Musically, Kate has performed both in the chorus and leading roles in everything from musical theater to a cappella, to a brief stint with Nik and the Nice Guys. Kate and her amazing husband, Shaun, live in Rush with their two cats and two dogs.

Annie Nichol grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and will forever be a KU Jayhawk! Annie graduated from St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN) with a music education degree. She loves teaching elementary school general music and just finished her Masters degree in Education with Kodaly Emphasis from Anna Maria College (Paxton, MA). After living in many places, Annie is thrilled to call Rochester home! In her free time, she enjoys playing piano, cooking, playing games, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Johanna Rehbaum is a Northern California girl, transplanted to Webster to serve as pastor of two small Lutheran churches. Though her music degree is in oboe performance, Johanna also adores singing, especially with Concentus. She enjoys pine-covered mountains, avocados, her Dachshund (Klaus), jamming with her husband (especially on her ukulele), dance parties with her daughter, Grace, and can often be caught mindlessly harmonizing.

Katharine Sanford (on sabbatical) is a lifelong singer with a degree from William Smith College and a passion for acting. She enjoys working with many theatre groups around Rochester, and is happy to return to Concentus after a four-year absence. She graces the stage whether singing, performing improv or reinterpreting Shakespeare. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have her!

Maggie Symington is a native of northern Virginia, recently relocated to Brighton, where her husband grew up. While her education and business experience are in economics and financial systems, her first love is music. She has sung in amateur groups in college, New York City, Connecticut, and London, and is excited to be singing with Concentus. Maggie also enjoys playing duplicate bridge and proofreading various organizations’ newsletters and websites.

Nina Varon admires everything beautiful and gracious, from arts to nature. Having sung her entire life, Nina now returns to small ensemble singing as she joins Concentus. She is proudly raising three children with her husband, Professor Neil Varon. Graduated in Slovakia with a love of languages, she is now pursuing her professional translating career.

Kristen Wahl is a licensed real estate agent with Re/Max Plus. She received her BA and MS Ed from Nazareth College, where she enjoyed singing in the Chamber Choir (and often in the dorm hallways). Some of Kristen’s favorite activities are attending local festivals, baking, learning the piano, and attending church. She resides in Henrietta with her spoiled rescue dog, Bear.

Denise Young is part of the lifeblood of Concentus, and has flexibly and gleefully sung in both our alto and soprano sections. Active with her family and local community, social activism and special outreach projects, Denise recently retired from the Public Employees Federation, AFL-CIO and is now active in and a passionate supporter of Metro Justice.