Viola, Piano, Choir, Composition & YENE
Connie Rittenhouse Drexler is one of the four founding members of the New England Youth Ensemble. She studied piano with her aunt, Dr. Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse, and performed as violinist, violist, and piano soloist with the orchestra for more than 10 years. Her mother and brother also played in the orchestra and they enjoyed traveling as a family with the orchestra, sometimes accompanied by her father as well. She was encouraged by The New England Piano Teacher's Association to pursue a degree in music when she won their competition in Boston as a high school senior and was awarded to play a solo piano recital for the organization. She completed a Bachelor of Music in piano performance and music education at Atlantic Union College, in South Lancaster, Massachusetts. She has always had a variety of interests and in addition, completed pre-med requirements during college. Connie went on to receive a master's degree in piano performance from Boston University before attending Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California and taking a residency in Internal Medicine. Through the years she has combined a love of medicine (working as an Internist and Hospitalist) with the love of music by performing with her brother, Jerry (a cellist), composing and arranging, conducting orchestra and choirs, playing chamber music, accompanying, teaching piano, violin, viola, and voice. In 2001 she started a second Youth Ensemble with her aunt and now is the director of the Youth Ensemble of New England. She is married to David Drexler, MD, Ph.D., with whom she shares a love of music and medicine. They have two children Robert and Katharine who grew up playing cello and violin in the orchestra. Robert also played trombone in the orchestra and Katharine sang as soprano soloist. Presently Connie is Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and works in the outpatient department for UMass Community Physicians. She also enjoys working with the orchestra and teaching music on her "day off'. One of her greatest joys is sharing the love of music with young people.
Fun Fact: When she was 16, her adventurous father piloted Connie and her family in a single engine airplane to Alaska, following the Alaska Highway. They camped on airport tarmacs and even flew as far north as the Arctic Circle. Connie’s mother, Peggy Rittenhouse earned her pilot’s license so that she could be co-pilot for this trip.
Connie was also one of the four original members of the New England Youth Ensemble which started in 1968 and continues to today. The ensemble was sponsored by the Reader’s Digest Foundation as Friendship Ambassadors during the Cold War and she traveled several times behind the iron curtain to Poland, Latvia and Russia to promote good will between countries through music.
Piano, Chorus, and Music Theory
Donna Dik began teaching piano in 1988. In 1989, she received her Associates Degrees in Piano Performance and Music Theory from the Royal Schools of Music in London. In 1993, she graduated from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education. She taught elementary and middle school General Music in the public schools in Uxbridge and Fitchburg, Massachusetts for 17 years. Currently, she is the music director at her church in West Townsend, Massachusetts; she also teaches private and group piano lessons, and homeschools her 13-year-old daughter.
Fun Fact: Donna is a dog lover and has two Labrador retrievers.