Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses - Staff


Sean Ivory, Director, Youth Chorus

Sean Ivory is a choral conductor, pianist and composer living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since 1992, Mr. Ivory has been the vocal music instructor at Forest Hills Central High School. He has held positions at St. Cecilia Music Society, the North American Choral Company, and Calvin College.

 Mr. Ivory attended Northwestern University, Calvin College and Michigan State University.  His choirs have performed at both state and regional conventions for the American Choral Directors Association, and have toured Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland, Estonia, and Ghana.

In addition to his activities as a teacher and conductor, Mr. Ivory also works as a pianist and composer. Several of his works (many of which are collaborations with Chicago composer Paul Caldwell) are published by Earthsongs, Alliance Music and GIA Music.  Visit to see and hear Sean and Paul's self-published works.


Jackie Sonderfan Schoon, Director

 Prelude and Junior Youth Choruses

Jackie Sonderfan Schoon teaches elementary music for Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and directs children’s choirs, both for the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses and for Westminster Presbyterian Church.  She attended Calvin College and Michigan State University.  She has presented at several music conferences in Michigan and has served  on the state’s board of the American Choral Director’s Association as Repertoire and Standards Chair for Children’s and Boy’s Choirs.  


Leah Ivory, Assistant Director and Accompanist, Youth Chorus

Leah Ivory graduated from Calvin College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music, concentrating in piano performance. She is currently the Assistant Director of the Youth Chorus and as well as the accompanist. Leah has accompanied choirs at the North American Choral Company and St. Cecilia Music Society, and has performed with choral ensembles on tours throughout the United States and overseas.

 On a trip to West Africa in 2006, Leah got her first djembe and has been studying West African rhythms ever since. She has taken classes with Masters Mamady Keita and Bolokada Conde, has a growing collection of djembes and dununs, builds djembes and leads West African rhythm drum circles in her community.

Leah is the mother of three beautiful children, loves to run, loves to share great food with friends and family, and is grateful for the opportunity to share her love of music and rhythms with her husband Sean and the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses.



Holly Okonoski, Manager

Holly Okonoski has been the manager for the Youth Choruses since 2010. Previously Holly was the Marketing Manager for the Grand Rapids Symphony, and has worked in public relations and special events for the Grand Rapids Public Schools, and the John Ball Zoological Society.

Holly is from Grand Rapids, she is married and has two children, Colin and Evelyn.

Contact Us

For an appointment or more information, contact:

Holly Okonoski
GRSYC Manager

(616) 881-2560

or send us a message.