Think of an old stone church, set in the trees on a property over two centuries old. The doors are closed but the sound escapes – beautiful music – and the spirit of live performance glows in the windows. Music at Asbury invites the community to come together and spend Sunday afternoons enjoying performances by some of New York City and the Hudson Valley’s finest musical artists — free of charge.
Asbury-Crestwood United Methodist Church has a long history of outstanding music programs and a record of community service. Asbury Church and its music directors have presented choral and organ concerts to the public over many years and have enjoyed longstanding partnerships with Sarah Lawrence College, Concordia College, and the Yonkers Council of Churches. The Asbury Summer Theatre group operated for 32 years, presenting over 30 sold-out shows to thousands of delighted audience members.
Last fall, we introduced a new three-concert series, Music at Asbury. As a program under the auspices of Asbury-Crestwood United Methodist Church, Music at Asbury was designed to serve as a social service to the community, offering free admission to the general public for all of its concerts. Special efforts are also made to connect with local agencies and facilities that serve the elderly, young people, and lower income families and adults.
We are proud to announce the second season of Music at Asbury, which will feature a wide variety of engaging, appealing, and top quality performances to entertain and educate our audiences. Community support of our first season was overwhelming, with the final concert performed by Asbury Summer Theatre alumni filling the church to its capacity! We received generous support from numerous local businesses and individuals, with gifts ranging from $5 – $1,000. This level of broad-based support shows us that the greater Yonkers-Tuckahoe area is eager for high-quality, diverse musical programs that are accessible to all residents.
Rev. Scott Summerville, pastor, Asbury UMC
Rev. Scott Summerville has been a clergy member of the New York Annual Conference since 1976. He has served churches in Kingston, NY; Stamford, CT; and Brooklyn, NY before his appointment in 2000 as the pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Yonkers, a reconciling congregation. In addition to parish duties and his work as a board member of MIND (Methodists in New Directions), Scott is a trainer and consultant in congregational conflict and mediation. He is also a trainer in the New York Annual Conference in boundaries and sexual ethics for clergy.
Mary Thombs, Asbury UMC Minister of Music and chair, Music at Asbury
Minister of Music Mary Thombs brings to Asbury Church a varied background in vocal, violin, piano, and organ performance as well as extensive experience in the teaching of violin, voice, and choral and string ensembles. She assumed the position of Minister of Music in April of 2006 after having served as Asbury’s Director of Children’s Music for eleven years. She has taught violin and voice for the Rivertowns Arts Council program in Hastings-on-Hudson since 1996 and has been a member of the voice faculty of The Dwight School’s Conservatory Program since 2006 (where she was formerly Director of Choral Studies). Prior to her current work as a music educator and performer, Mary Thombs enjoyed a successful career as an arts administrator. She served as Administrator Director of the internationally-acclaimed Bowdoin Summer Music Festival from 1985-1996; Director of Development and Special Programs at the JCC Thurnauer School of Music for ten years; and Director of Development at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s School in New York.
Nehemiah Luckett, Asbury UMC Associate Minister of Music and producer, Music at Asbury
Nehemiah Luckett has been composing, conducting and performing as a singer and pianist for over 20 years. He joined the music staff of Asbury UMC in 2001 and served as Associate Minister of Music and Composer in Residence from 2006 to 2016. He is the Music Director and Composer for Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, an environmental activist performance community that performs throughout New York City, the U.S. and tours internationally. Music Direction credits: Company, Man of No Importance, Bat Boy, Promenade, Urinetown, Cabaret, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Cyrano, Legally Blonde, Wonderful Town, Fiddler on the Roof, and Caroline, Or Change (Gallery Players, Brooklyn). Broadway and Off-Broadway Credits: Music Assistant under Music Supervisor David Loud on The Scottsboro Boys and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Nehemiah currently works as a Voice Teacher at The Dwight School in Manhattan, Choral Accompanist at Manhattan Country School, Music Assistant for the Gospel Plus Choir at Union Theological Seminary and serves as the Worship Associate at Church of The Village.
Mauro Contrastano is an attorney specializing in the fields of Workers’ Compensation law and Social Security Disability claims and a partner in the firm of Caruso, Spillane, Leighton, Contrastano, Savino & Smollar, P.C. When he is not at the office, Mr. Contrastano is an accomplished musical theater actor and director, having performed in twenty-four productions and directing four musical revues for Asbury Summer Theatre from 1987 until 2007. He is thrilled to be working again with AST, having directed “Night and Day” for the Music at Asbury series in 2015 and directing “Tin Pan Alley” for AST’s appearance with Music at Asbury in April, 2016.
Dr. Earl Groner
Concluding a forty-five career as an active music educator, Dr. Earl Groner was a member of the Music Department Faculty of the Scarsdale Public Schools where he taught strings and orchestra. He had served as president of the Westchester County School Music Association (WCSMA), president of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) and president of the Eastern Division of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Presently, he serves as NYSSMA’s Historian and Archivist. Dr. Groner was the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Service Award, bestowed by the New York State School Music Association. Dr. Groner holds music degrees from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the New England Conservatory of Music, and Drew University. For two- summers, trombonist Earl Groner was a Tanglewood Fellow; he also had served as a member of the 7th U.S. Army Symphony Orchestra based in Stuttgart, Germany. As a member of Asbury Methodist Church, Dr. Groner is Chairman of the Music and Worship Committee, serves as the Church Head Usher and is a member of the Asbury Nursery School Board.
Lu Gmoser has been enjoying presenting programs on opera and musical theater for thirty years. Earlier in her career she was in the educational department of the Metropolitan Opera Guild, and became personal secretary to Mrs. August Belmont, founder of the Guild. Later on, she was a reporter and feature article writer for Gannett newspapers in Westchester, and authored a book, “Great Composers.” Mrs. Gmoser was, for more than twenty-five years, producer of Asbury Summer Theatre, an acclaimed community theatre in Yonkers. In addition to her “one woman” programs with recorded music, Mrs. Gmoser is creator of and commentator for an ensemble known as Three for the Show, which regularly presents educational music programs on a variety of topics throughout Westchester County. She is a recipient of the Cab Calloway Lifetime Achievement Award and the Untermyer Performing Arts Council Griffon Award, both for her contribution and commitment to the performing arts.
Joan Mallory is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Nyack College following a stellar 30-year career as a New York State public school music educator, having received the “Model Classroom Teacher Award” from the Music Educator’s National Conference and the “Jenkins Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education.” Ms. Mallory was the general and choral music educator and music department chairperson in the Mt. Vernon (NY) Public Schools. She was the general music specialist and hostess of “The Classical Music Show” on WCWP-FM from 1997 to 2000 and has presented workshops at Concordia College, Hunter College, King’s Highway United Methodist Church. She has been a featured presenter for NYSSMA, NMSA (National Middle Schools Association) NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children), ACEI (Association for Childhood Education International), Niagara University (Music Education Seminars for Social Learning Through Music), and Wesley College (Music Education Seminar), among others. She is currently the lay leader of Asbury United Methodist Church, a member of the administrative board, chairperson of Missions, and a certified Lay Speaker.
Lindsay Baker has been active at Asbury United Methodist Church for over 25 years, including serving as Superintendent of the Sunday School, congregational liaison to Methodists in New Directions, and as a member of other committees. An enthusiastic supporter of the arts, Lindsay has been a a Board member and Treasurer of the Play Group Theatre, a performing arts educational program for children and teens based in White Plains, NY. Lindsay is a graduate of Tufts University (BA) and New York University (MBA) and is a Vice President, Finance at Montefiore Health System.
Barbara Gibson is a career diplomat with the Canadian Foreign Service, having joined in 1983. She had previously worked overseas for the New Zealand Department of Trade and Industry in Auckland and Wellington (1974-78), and subsequently for various organizations in Brussels (European Commission), London, and Lagos (Canadian Embassy). Since joining the Canadian Foreign Service, she served abroad at the Canadian Permanent Mission to the UN, in New York, for two separate postings. She served in the political section of the Canadian Embassy in Washington (1992-95), covering multilateral and Middle East affairs. She was appointed Canada’s Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna from 2004-2008. In Ottawa, she undertook assignments in the Defence Relations Division, the Office of the Minister of External Affairs, the South East Asia Relations Division, and as Director of the Middle East Relations Division. She is currently on secondment to the International Peace Institute in New York, where she is Secretary General of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (www.icm2016.org). Locally, she is on the board of the Armour Villa Neighbourhood Association, and is a longtime member of Asbury Church, where she serves as Chair of the Asbury Nursery School board, and on the Lay Ministry team. She is passionate about many types of music, from sacred to classic to pop, having been a French horn player at school. She speaks English, French and German.