Hundreds Pack New York Church to Remember Barbara Maier Gustern Killed in Attack

Beloved 87-year-old vocal coach Barbara Maier Gustern, who was shoved to death in a shocking attack this month, was remembered on Saturday as “a force of nature” who lived without fear.

Gustern was walking on West 28th Street on March 10 when Lauren Pazienza, 26, allegedly called her a “bitch” and pushed her down the sidewalk. Gustern, a singer who went on to teach and whose clients included Debbie Harry as well as Broadway performers, died March 15.

Pazienza, who lives in Astoria, visited on Tuesday morning. She was charged with manslaughter and assault, and was released from Rikers Island on Friday after her parents posted bail.

The unprovoked attack on Gustern took place opposite the Church of the Holy Apostles, where hundreds of mourners gathered.

A bell rang 87 times to mark each year of Gustern’s life

“Eight decades of unparalleled integrity and love, lost to a random act of senseless violence,” the service’s program read, noting that Gustern was attacked “in the window of her Chelsea home.” .

The memorial took place at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea.
James Keivom for NY Post
People gather during a memorial service for Barbara Maier Gustern at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea.
People gather at a memorial service in Chelsea for Gustern.
James Keivom for NY Post
Program of a memorial service for Barbara Maier Gustern
A person holds Gustern’s memorial service program.
James Keivom for NY Post

Gustern earned a master’s degree in counseling and clinical psychology from Columbia University, before discovering a passion for singing. She has performed with the New York City Opera, Fifth Avenue Opera, Greenwich Symphony and on numerous ship cruises, the program says.

The Reverend Anna Pearson, rector of the church, said Gustern recently spoke about the challenges of a career in the performing arts and how she would feel negative if not hired.

” I made a decision. I decided to be happy for the success of others,” recalls Pearson. “I decided not to compare myself to anyone else and to celebrate the good no matter where I saw it, no matter who benefited from it.”

Mourners embrace bespectacled AJ Gustern, grandson of Barbara Maier Gustern.
Barbara Maier Gustern’s grandson is kissed at his grandmother’s memorial.
James Keivom for NY Post
Barbara Maier Gustern
The famous vocal couch died on March 15 after being pushed around.
Tamara Beckwith/New York Post

Gustern’s husband Joe, who starred in “Phamtom of the Opera,” died in 2017. Their only child, Katherine, died in 2003.

Gustern’s grandson, AJ Gustern, said his grandmother “worked so hard to make me feel worthy of my own humanity.”

“I can say with certainty that if it hadn’t been for my ‘BobBob’ stepping in to fill the void left by my mother, I wouldn’t be here with all of you today,” he said.

AJ Gustern
AJ Gustern attends his grandmother’s memorial.
James Keivom for NY Post

The service included a recording of Gustern and her husband singing “Sunday’s Child”. The crowd jumped to their feet and cheered when it was over.

Meanwhile, there was no sign of Gustern’s assailant on Saturday at his Astoria apartment building or his parents’ home in Port Jefferson on Long Island.

Her father, Daniel, who was walking a dog on a nearby beach, declined to comment.

Jerry B. Hatch