Meet the Talented Musicians Behind the Classical Music

More than 300 musicians are on the roster of the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra. At any one performance, you might see 40 to 75 musicians — the number is determined by pieces being played.


Here’s a look at some of the people who make up the symphony.

Noreen Davis

ndavisNoreen plays the violin and is the former Manager of the GNSO.  She is a music teacher and also plays the viola and cello.  Noreen has been a member of the GNSO since its inception 20 years ago and performed in their very first concert.

Married for 53 years, and the mother of a violinist daughter now in Australia, she and her husband have lived in the town of Newburgh for over 45 years. Noreen has also performed with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Northern Dutchess Symphony, Woodstock Symphony, Classic Choral Society Orchestra and other choral groups. She also serves as an All State adjudicator for the New York State School Music Association.  She has a private string studio and uses the Suzuki teaching method – a special way of teaching violin, viola and cello to young children — as well as traditional methods.

Some of Noreen’s other interests include photography, yoga, reading, health and natural healing, and travel.

Silvia Padegs Grendze

silviaSilvia Padegs Grendze is Concertmaster of the GNSO. She started playing the violin at age three with Japanese disciples of Shin’ichi Suzuki. She continued her professional studies at the Manhattan School of Music. Since graduating, she has been a freelance violinist playing with orchestras along the East Coast of the U.S. from Maine to South Carolina. Silvia has played in major concert halls such as Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center. She has also played internationally in Europe, North America, South America and Australia. In addition to her duties as a performing violinist, she has a private teaching studio and teaches in the lower Hudson Valley area. Ms. Grendze currently resides in Irvington, NY, with her husband and two boys.

Ms. Grendze observes that “playing live music, whether with a small ensemble or as part of an orchestra is a unique and exciting experience. You never know what may happen during a performance, but the outcome is always greater than any individual.”

Joel Evans

jevansJoel is the principal oboist with the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra and has been a member for 10 years.

Joel is a college professor at SUNY New Paltz, a member of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, and choirmaster for St. Gregory Eastern Orthodox Church.

Joel’s other interests include the French language and travel.

Steve Luck

Steve plays principal trumpet with the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra and has been a member since its inception.  He graduated from the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in 1984. He is a retired musician with the U.S. Army West Point Band after serving 26 years. He also teaches privately.

Steve and his wife have been married for 30 years and reside in Cornwall.  They are the parents of two children, Carina and Shannon.

Steve has many interests other than music which include bowling, skiing, golf, tennis, home building, and architecture.

Donna Gray Kushner

dkushnerDonna (violin) is a lifetime resident of Orange County. She began her violin lessons at age eight with violinist Guido Brand. Donna graduated from the Crane School of Music was a member of the New School Chamber Music program. With a degree in Music education, Donna has taught in area schools and maintains an active private violin and viola studio in Monroe and the Waldorf School in New Paltz.

She is an original member of the GNSO and was the personnel manager for 10 years. She is currently its principal second violinist. Donna is also a principal player with the Maestro Ron DeFesi and the Hudson Opera Theater. and performs regularly with the Hudson Valley String Quartet, Classic Choral Society and other ensembles in the Hudson Valley.

In her spare time, Donna enjoys kayaking on the Hudson River with her husband Steve and their family. She also enjoys cooking and sharing her creations with her grandchildren.

Gordon Shacklett

gshacklettGordon has been a member of the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra since its inception.  He plays the cello, as well as piano and organ.  A native of California, he served in the military with the USMA Band at West Point. Gordon delivers an informal introduction to each GNSO concert, where he presents brief insights into the music to be performed, in order to help the audience better understand what they will hear.

Gordon is retired from a computer programming career and resides in the town of Wallkill.  He is the father of three children.  In addition to performing with the GNSO, Gordon is a church choir director, church organist, and serves as accompanist for many area ensembles.

Nancy Wegrzyn

nancywNancy is principal violist with the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra and has been a member since its second year. She is the head teacher of Monticello High School Performing Arts Department, where she teaches Orchestra, Chamber Music and Advanced Placement Music Theory. Nancy is also a composer and a recipient of 12 “Meet the Composer” grants, and has served as a guest conductor of several Orange, Dutchess and Sullivan All-County Orchestras. In addition, Nancy freelances as a violist in the Hudson Valley area. She makes her home in Ulster County with her husband, Jim, an electric bassist.

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