Ensemble Directors

Fox Valley Youth ORCHESTRA

Using music to enrich the lives of our youth

Katheryn Barrett-Brown was born in the Twin Cities, MN to a musical family. She began choir at the age of 5, piano at age 6, and violin at age 8. Playing with the Minnesota Youth Symphonies, Katheryn was able to work with members of the Minnesota Orchestra. Among her numerous opportunities during her formative years, she fondly remembers being personally mentored by principal members of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, among them Dr. Layton "Skip" James, who encouraged Katheryn to pursue conducting. Katheryn was also able to perform with the Minnesota Chorale under the baton of Kathy Romey, as well as the Minnesota Orchestra, under the baton of Eiji Oue.
             Katheryn then moved to Chicago to pursue a career in opera at DePaul University. In addition to participating in numerous DPU Opera Theater productions, Katheryn was accepted into Catherine Malfitano's prestigious "Singer/Actor" program. After college, she sang in a season with the Grant Park Chorus, directed by Christopher Bell. After a brief hiatus from music to start a family, Katheryn became the director of the Chancel Choir at River Glen Presbyterian Church in Naperville. At that time she started her private studio, and joined a local Aurora community orchestra. From there, Katheryn started as a second violin and during her tenure rose to concertmaster. During that time Katheryn was brought on to direct a youth string orchestra, an advanced chamber orchestra, as well as a beginning string program. Katheryn has mentored and taught many private students from her home studio, and those students have had considerable success earning prizes and scholarships for their musical accomplishments. Her love of youth music and pedagogy makes her very excited to teach in Fox Valley El Sistema program, as well as FVYO. Katheryn resides in Aurora with her incredibly supportive husband and her five children.

Andrea LaFranzo began her musical training at the age of nine in suburban Washington DC.   She was heavily involved in performance throughout her grade school and high school years.  She played with the American Youth Philharmonic program for 6 years, as well as was a part of the prestigious National Symphony Fellowship Program, where she studied with some of the most talented and accomplished artists in the world. In 1992, Andrea performed with cellist  Yo-Yo Ma and other cellists in honoring Mstislav Rostropovich at the Kennedy Center Honors,  nationally televised on CBS.

             Andrea received a Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from The Boston Conservatory in 1999.   Her time in Boston also involved many conducting opportunities – working with the dance department on projects and premiering many new works for both cello, orchestra, and jazz band.  She was also honored again to be chosen to play for Yo-Yo Ma in a cello performance master class.  After graduating, she traveled back to Washington DC to perform Faure’s Elegy as cello soloist at Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall stage.

             Since moving to Illinois in 2000, Mrs. LaFranzo has devoted her life to the education and mentorship of young musicians.  Andrea has worked with ensembles throughout the area, including Elgin Youth Symphony Chamber Music Institute, Chicago Youth Symphony musicians, and is presently also Music Director of the Kaneland Youth Orchestra in Sugar Grove, IL.  Mrs. LaFranzo serves as cello sectional clinician for the Illinois Math and Science Academy Orchestra, and maintains a large private cello studio in Warrenville and Campton Hills.  Many of Mrs. LaFranzo’s students are winners of solo competitions, music scholarships, hold principal positions in youth symphony and school orchestra, and go on to study music in college.  She also serves as the Music Director and Social Sciences Director at Carmel Montessori Academy in Warrenville.

             Andrea has a very musically involved family.  Her older daughter Kimberly plays viola, her youngest daughter Michelle loves to sing and play piano, and her husband, Jacob is a composer.  In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, running, and having lots of fun with her friends and loved ones.

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Teresa Cowin Muir currently teaches flute privately in Geneva & Batavia. Originally from the Pittsburgh area, she came to Northwestern University for a Bachelor of Music Education degree and stayed to teach band and orchestra in the Yorkville and Batavia School Districts. Mrs. Muir has been a featured soloist with the Butler (Pennsylvania) Symphony Orchestra, Fox Valley Philharmonic and Fox Valley Concert Band. She arranges music extensively for flute choir and woodwind trio, performed flute and piccolo with the DuPage, Fox Valley & Kishwaukee Symphonies, serves on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Flute Club and DuPage Symphony Orchestra, and is Program Director for Fox Valley El Sistema.  In her "spare" time, Mrs. Muir enjoys cooking, non-contact boxing, and photographing steam trains with her husband, Dale.

Suzi Crookshank is principal clarinetist in the Fox Valley Orchestra. She earned degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (DMA), Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (MM), and the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL (BM) and has studied with J. David Harris, Eric Mandat, and Margaret Donaghue-Flavin, respectively. In addition to the Fox Valley Orchestra, Dr. Crookshank performs in the Fox Valley Concert Band, Wheaton Municipal Band, and two woodwind quintets. She teaches clarinet lessons in Aurora at St. Mark’s Music Academy and at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, where she also leads clarinet sectionals and masterclasses.

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