Ensemble Directors

Fox Valley Youth ChoRUS


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Mr. Jonathan McLear began his career in music education in 2002 teaching K-8 general music and choir at River Grove School.  In 2004, he joined the West Aurora High School Fine Arts Department teaching choir and music theory.  He also had the honor of directing the Madrigal Singers (founded by Meg Papadolias) and pit orchestras for many great shows including Cats, Rent, Phantom of the Opera, and In the Heights.  In 2015, Mr. McLear was appointed the Fine Arts Curriculum Coordinator in the West Aurora School District.  As the Fine Arts Administrator, he oversees the art, music, and theatre courses for about 12,000 students in grades K-12 across 16 campuses.

Additionally, Jonathan McLear serves as the Music Director at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia, Illinois.  At Holy Cross, Mr. McLear directs the Bell Choir, Chancel Choir, and Schola Cantorum and coordinates the parish music program which includes four youth ensembles, a Contemporary Ensemble, the Resurrection Choir, cantors, and accompanists.  While in college, Mr. McLear was an accompanist at Christ the Teacher Parish in DeKalb, Illinois and the Music Director at St. Mary’s Parish in Sycamore, Illinois.

Mr. McLear earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Northern Illinois University and his Masters in Educational Leadership from Aurora University.  He lives in Aurora, Illinois with his incredible wife, Dianna, and their four amazing children.

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.

Jonathan McLear



Asst Director


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