Mary Thombs, Asbury UMC Minister of Music and chair, Music at Asbury
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 Administrative 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.
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 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 of Finance for the Montefiore Health System.
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 served as director for AST’s Music at Asbury appearances in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Barbara Gibson has just retired from a 35-year career as a diplomat with the Canadian Foreign Service. With 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 has also served at the International Peace Institute in New York, where she was 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.
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 and serves as the Church Head Usher.
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.
Diane Kamble is a member of Asbury United Methodist Church and is always eager to help with church activities. She is a registered nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx and enjoys caring for veterans and their families. Diane’s hobbies include cooking, spending time with family and friends, and volunteering for the Cooleys Anemia Foundation.
Ruth Mackey has been an active member of Asbury United MethodistChurch for over forty years, where she has served as a Trustee, Superintendent of the Sunday School, and Chair of the Asbury Nursery School Board, among many other areas of involvement. With a MSEd in Special Education, she taught for a number of years, became a stay-at-home-mom, spent fifteen years in a variety of administration positions at Sarah Lawrence College, and is now spending time with grandchildren, traveling and volunteering. Ruth, who enjoys live performances of all genres and whose only stage experience has been her years behind the stage during Asbury Summer Theatre performances, loves having a seat in all audiences.
Joan Mallory is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Nyack College following a 30-year career as a New York State public school music educator, during which time she 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 a member of the administrative board of Asbury UMC, chairperson of both Lay Ministry and Missions, and a certified Lay Speaker.
Music at Asbury is supported, in part, by an Arts Alive Project Grant, made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program (DEC), a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, and administered by ArtsWestchester.