THE SIX (clockwise, from the left: Ron De Fesi, piano, arranger; Rich Simons, double bass;
Piotr Kargul, viola; Donna Gray Kushner, violin; Jeanne Fox, ’cello; and Jina Choi, violin.
A Little Bit About the Musicians
Jina Choi, first violin, grew up in a musical family in Korea, where she pursued music studies at the prestigious Seoul National University. Since moving to the US in 1996, Ms Choi has continued her musical performance training at Mannes College as well as at Rutgers University, where she is currently earning a doctoral degree. In addition to presenting solo recitals all over the country, Ms Choi has appeared as soloist with the Budapest Chamber Orchestra, New York Symphony, Adelphi Orchestra and Newburgh Symphony. She has served as concert master for orchestras including the Mannes Orchestra, Pacific Music Festival Orchestra (Japan), Pucheon Philharmonic (Korea), Greater Newburgh Symphony, the Rutgers Symphony, and for the past three years, the Ridgewood Symphony. Ms Choi has also won recognition at numerous festivals and competitions, including the Korea Music Festival Competition and the Mannes Chamber Music Festival Competition. Ms Choi maintains an active teaching studio in Glen Rock.
Donna Gray Kushner, second violin, is presently the principal second violin for the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra. She is also one of the founding members of the Schunnemunk String Quartet. She is a private violin and viola teacher for over 30 years with a studio in Monroe. Donna also teaches privately in New Paltz, NY at the Mountain Laurel Waldorf School, and performs with various chamber orchestras and opera companies throughout the Hudson valley, including Hudson Opera Theater, since 1984, Opera Company of the Highlands, Warwick Chorale, Classic Chorale Society, Rockland Symphony Orchestra. She also performs for many private functions. She is a graduate of Monroe Woodbury. After graduating from SUNY Orange and the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, with a degree in Music Education, Donna continued with performance master classes at the New School, and Graduate studies in Special Education at SUNY New Paltz. Donna and her husband Steven have two children, and two granddaughters, and have lived in the Monroe area for more years than they care to admit.
Piotr Kargul, viola, was born in Poland and raised in a family with musical traditions, which he continues as an active orchestral and chamber musician. He has performed with the International European Youth Orchestra, the Poznań Philharmonic, and the Polish Philharmonic Sinfonia Baltica throughout Europe. In addition to playing with Amaranthus Ensemble, Piotr is the violist of Hudson Pro Musica and the Hudson Valley String Quartet. He is also a member of the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra, Hudson Opera Theatre, Opera Company of the Highlands, and Delaware Valley Opera. He enjoys collaborating with other local musicians as a recitalist and soloist. Piotr began taking violin lessons at the age of eight, but the viola became his instrument of passion. Piotr studied at the Music Academy in Poznań, Poland where he earned his Master of Arts Degree in Viola Performance. Piotr also participated in a variety of viola master classes throughout the United States with acclaimed artists and violists such as Karen Tuttle and Helen Callus. His love of music does not extend to viola only. Piotr also takes joy in composing and playing violin and piano.
Jeanne Fox, cello, learned to read music before she learned to read words—being born into a musical family made that a natural. After graduating with degrees from Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School, Jeanne became involved in music administration and management. While working at the Sony Classical record label her career expanded into the fields of music copyright and supervising music for feature films and television programs. Currently Jeanne is a busy freelance cellist—playing with various groups in the Tri-State region, teaches cello privately, and continues to work on films as a music consultant.
Richard Milan Simons, double bass, studied at the University of South Carolina, and the Hartt School of Music. As a soloist, he has performed with the Northern Westchester Symphony Orchestra (NY), the Manchester Symphony (CT), and the Emerson String Quartet. He has been a guest performer/lecturer at the University of South Carolina, the Hartt School of Music, the Hartford Conservatory of Music, Mt. Saint Mary College, and the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts. Mr. Simons is also a conductor, both for Metro-North Railroad, and the Cortlandt Chamber Orchestra, making him the world’s only double conductor! Mr. Simons founded the Cortlandt Chamber Orchestra in 1993, and then went on to conduct the Mid-Hudson Community Orchestra at Dutchess Community College. He is assistant conductor to the Northern Westchester Symphony Orchestra, and he was honored to conduct “Gianni Schicchi” for Hudson Opera Theatre during the 2011-1212 Season. Mr. Simons also writes music, and plays the cello. He lives in Beacon with his lovely wife, Debbie, and their four cats.
Ron De Fesi, piano, conductor, arranger, plays the piano, conducts and arranges, and has been fascinated with the Titanic since the age of 10.