Meet Our Staff

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Janet Kuester

Board President

Janet Kuester describes herself as a “music activist”.  She became involved with Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra as a parent and board member when her daughter played in the violin section in the 1980’s .

Mrs. Kuester has served as the violin instructor/mentor of the Incredible Opportunity program since 2010, Music Director from 2011-2012, and Executive Director. She is currently serving as the SYSO Board President. She has helped develop the high school mentor program to encourage high school string students to mentor and teach younger students and receive community service hours.

Janet Kuester is the founder and previous director (2004-2020) of The Music Connection of Orland Park.

Mrs. Kuester has taught violin and piano for more than 40 years and is a member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, Suzuki Association of the Americas, National Guild of Piano Teachers, and El Sistema U.S.A.  Mrs. Kuester received her music degree from De Paul University and is a certified Suzuki piano and violin teacher. She has performed with the Lake Forest, Waukegan, DePaul, Chicago Civic, Chicago Heights, Kankakee and Illinois Philharmonic Orchestras.

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David Forsman

Music Director
Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra

David Forsman has been a freelance cellist in Chicago's south suburbs for almost 40 years. His teachers include Karl Fruh, Richard Kapuscinski, Leonard Chausow, and Kim Scholes. He has been a member of the Illinois Philharmonic, the Northwest Indiana Symphony, the Rockford Symphony, and others. He has been a founding member of two chamber music groups, and currently partners with pianist Melinda Sondag in the Forsman Sondag Duo. David also played cello in everyone's favorite band, Time Bomb Taxi. He has been teaching since the mid 80s, and was the strings coach of the Kankakee Valley Youth Symphony for more than 15 years.

David is an avid bicycle rider, a walker in the winter - it's all about being under the sky - and a serious classical record collector. David also loves books. Homer is a favorite. And a low key trip to the Art Institute is the way he treats himself when he needs to get happy.

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Brian Ostrega

Assistant Director
Incredible Opportunity Program

Brian Ostrega began playing violin when he was five years old. His first orchestra experience was through the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO), playing with them from grammar school through high school. From his involvement with the CYSO, he decided to further his musical studies in college. After graduating from University of Illinois (B.M. ’13) and graduating from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts (M.M. ’15) with degrees in Violin Performance, Mr. Ostrega won performing positions with Civic Orchestra of Chicago, followed by first violin seats with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO). Mr. Ostrega plays chamber music with his violin and piano duo Ostrega Uhl Project, a classical concert series which features local professional artists to educate and entertain audiences about the music the ensemble performs. 

In addition to performing, Mr. Ostrega is Orchestra Librarian for IPO and enjoys teaching a growing studio of students of all ages at Blue Island Music in Blue Island, IL. Mr. Ostrega is thrilled to begin teaching and inspiring students this year through SYSO.

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Mindy Sondag

Orchestra Manager

Originally from Ohio, Mindy S. has found her home with the community of musicians in the Chicago Southwest Suburbs. Mindy received her Bachelor’s in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH, and her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance from Brandon University in Brandon, MB, Canada.  In addition to being the Orchestra Manager for The Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra, Mindy teaches piano full-time at The Music Connection, and is an active performer with Cellist and SYSO Director, David Forsman.

Violin and Music Sheet

Suburban Youth Symphony Board of Directors

President - Janet Kuester

Vice President - Mort Castle

Treasurer - Cynthia Westerman

Stan Birer

Pam Cabrera

Marilynn Tannebaum

Emily Mantell

Sue McKeigue

Andrea Gibb