Conductor John E. Armstrong is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and started working with the IV Youth Symphony in 1991-2 as assistant conductor. A native to Ottawa, he is a member of the Monarch Brass and municipal bands in several Illinois communities. He also plays with the Steve Anthony’s Society Orchestra and the Class Act II Big Band. Armstrong was the assistant music teacher at Hall High School from 1980 to 1985 and director of the IVCC Jazz Ensemble from 1983 to 1988. He was assistant band director of LaSalle-Peru High School Band from 1993-1996. John is a member of the International Trumpet Guild and the American Federation of Musicians Local #307.
The Illinois Valley
Youth Symphony Orchestra
Business Manager Jennifer Antkowiak Etscheid is an alumna of LaSalle-Peru Township High School and the Illinois Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra. She was a two time All-State Honor Band participant and winner of the IVSO Concerto Competition in 2011. Jen graduated from Eastern Illinois University with her BM (Summa Cum Laude with University Honors) in 2015 and her MA in 2017 where she held a 4.0 GPA and was awarded the Distinguished Graduate Award for 2017. While at EIU, Jennifer served as principal of the orchestra and wind symphony for several seasons, won the ESO Concerto Competition in 2012, 2013, and 2015, was an Honors Recital winner in 2013, 2014, and 2016, and received numerous scholarships, including the Presidential Scholarship. She studied abroad in Salzburg, Austria where she studied flute under Moritz Plasse. Her other teachers include Sue Gillio, Jennifer Mills, and Dr. Rebecca Johnson.
She has worked as an Event Coordinator of the Doudna Fine Arts Center where she worked with groups such as the Russian National Ballet, Count Basie Orchestra, and Molly Ringwald. Jennifer returned home to build her own flute studio at Music Suite 408. She has also directed the pit orchestra for LP's spring musical, performed with the Southern Illinois Music Festival, and been on the faculty for the Summer Flute Retreat and Eastern Illinois Music Camp.
Conductor Chuanyuan Alex Wang is an active performing violinist and private teacher in Chicago Area. He has served as principle second violin of the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra since 2008. He holds a Master's degree and performance certificate in Violin Performance from Northern Illinois University in 2013 and a Bachelor's degree in Violin Performance from Taipei University of the Arts (TNUA) in Taiwan, 2006. Alex performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician, taking the stage in a variety of recitals and ensembles. As an orchestral musician he has played with orchestras throughout the country and abroad, including NIU philharmonic and TNUA philharmonic. His teaching experience including private violin and viola students of all ages and levels, as well as serving as an instructor at Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL).
While studying violin at NIU, Alex has developed an interest conducting, which led to study with the director of NIU philharmonic, Dr. Lucia Matos. Alex is currently a graduate student of Dr. Matos, and he also serves as a director of Chinese Ensemble at NIU. In 2017 he began as a co-conductor at Illinois Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra.