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). She is an elementary vocal music teacher who also gives private voice lessons. In addition to singing with Concentus, she is a member of Eastman’s Voices and East Ave Chorale.

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. Making music together, and with their two tremendous daughters, brings special joy to their lives.

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!

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 board of Heart Based Institute. By day, she serves as the 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 (on sabbatical) discovered her passion for choral music during her days at Penfield High School, and 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, and received her Master’s degree from the University at Buffalo. She shares her love of making music with her son, who plays the trumpet and hums to himself continuously.

Kara Juszczak has been a member since 2007, serving on the Board of Directors in multiple capacities over the years. 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, chronic/critical illness, anxiety, and meditation/mindfulness. Kara is also a consultant and presenter on a variety of topics to audiences from mean health to education providers. She lives in North Chili with her husband, Jason, and their two sons Riley and Avery.

Rebecca Kemp is currently the K-5 elementary general music and choral teacher at Park Road Elementary School in Pittsford, NY. She has a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy and music education with psychology minor and a Master of Science degree in creative arts therapy. Additionally, she holds certification in the Orff-Schulwerk approach to music education from the Eastman School of Music and is the choir director at The Parish of the Holy Family in Gates, NY. Rebecca enjoys antiquing, gardening, her dogs, and of course singing. Rebecca and her husband, Craig, live in Gates with their Pekingese poodle, Peanut and Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mix, Lucy.

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.

Suzanne McMillan trained as a singer at the University of Buffalo under Professor Sylvia Dimiziani, who studied with the great Nadia Boulanger in Paris. She has long been involved in sacred choral music, including at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Buffalo, NY under Jimmy Bigham. Suzanne has enjoyed performing with her husband Ron in many productions put on by the Greater Buffalo Opera Company including Othello, La Traviata, Carmen, and La Boheme. She currently is a member of the choir of the Parish of the Holy Family.

Annie Nichol grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and will forever be a KU Jayhawk! She has a bachelor’s degree in music education from St. Olaf College and a master’s degree in education with Kodaly emphasis from Anna Maria College. Annie works her dream job of teaching K-2 general music in Penfield. After living in many places, Annie is thrilled to call Rochester home! She lives with her husband John, baby James, and Maine Coon cat Kirby.

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 in the alto section of Concentus. She enjoys pine-covered mountains, ripe avocados, writing theological reflections, and jam sessions with her husband and two young children, and can often be caught mindlessly harmonizing.

Monika Reifenstein is a recent graduate of Smith College, where she received dual Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and the Study of Women and Gender. She is also a musician and incredibly passionate about social justice. Monika is spending her post-grad time singing (with Rocappella and Concentus) and consulting & volunteering with non-profit corporations. One of her current projects is as co-founder and co-organizer of Make Music Rochester, part of a global music festival celebration of the summer solstice. She will soon be pursuing a Master's degree involving media and the entertainment industry.

Katharine Sanford 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 appreciates singing in a small ensemble full of talented women. Graduated in Slovakia with a degree in economics, majoring in tourism and services, she worked in administrative positions in various businesses and lived in multiple countries in Europe. Her love and knowledge of languages enabled her to develop a professional career in business translation while living in Rochester for the past 15 years with her musical husband and children.

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 an active and passionate supporter of Metro Justice.