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Musician Biographies

Chase Spruill Concertmaster

Violinist Chase Spruill has gained an international reputation as a performer of contemporary music, interpreting minimalist masters such as Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, and Henryk Gorecki.  In 2020, BBC Music Magazine hailed his debut solo album of the music of British composer Michael Nyman, citing that “Spruill plays with great spirit . . . and a great sense of presence” and calling him, “an engaging and convincing advocate.”  This same year, Capital Public Radio called him, “a breath-taking performer” with MusicWeb International highlighting that “Spruill plays with fire and yet sensitivity . . . and with absolutely secure rhythmic foundations.”  He was a core faculty member with the nationally celebrated not-for-profit organization Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island, from 2012 to 2017, as well as a visiting professor of violin and orchestral studies at Wheaton College in from 2015 to 2017.  Dedicated to exploring potential intersections between music and social justice, Spruill returned to his hometown in Vacaville to develop and run the music program at the new school Sierra Vista K–8 where he remains on faculty.  He’s collaborated with other notable artists such as Kronos Quartet, composer/electric guitarist Steven Mackey (a UC Davis music alum ‘78), and BAFTA-nominated composer Brian Reitzell, releasing music from the critically-acclaimed television series Hannibal.  His recordings appear on the Philip Glass record label Orange Mountain Music and on Supertrain Records.

Chris Allen

Chris Allen has been a member of the Auburn Symphony since 2016.  He is also a member of the Folsom Lake Symphony, and has played in many other local orchestras including Symphony d’Oro Rancho Cordova, Camerata California, Camellia Symphony, and an over 30-year stint as a student and alumni member of the U.C. Davis Symphony Orchestra.  Chris plays in a number of chamber music ensembles, and also sings in several local choirs including the Sacramento Choral Society.

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Christopher Jones
Principal Horn

Christopher Jones received his B.A. in Music at Stanford University in 1982.  During that time he played with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Peter Jaffe, who was earning his doctorate in conducting.  He performed concertos with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, Stanford Wind Ensemble and Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra before taking a break from music while he completed his medical education.  Since moving to Sacramento, he has resumed his musical interests, playing principal horn with the Auburn Symphony, the Camellia Symphony and also performing with the Golden State Brass Quintet. 

Keller, Sunie

Sunie Keller
Second Violin

Sunie Nelson-Keller began playing the violin at age 7. While pursuing a nursing degree, she took lessons from Glen Dictrow, who was concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the time.  She then went on to Loma Linda University and obtained a dental hygiene degree. She is a regular contributor to the Sacramento Youth Symphony sectional rehearsals, where her daughter has played for the last 8 years.  She currently lives in Rocklin, where she has her own legal nurse consulting business.  When she is not practicing the violin, she is on the water pursuing slalom water-skiing where she competes as an avocation.

Curtis Kidwell, Principal Oboe

Curtis Kidwell
Principal Oboe

Curtis Kidwell is well-known throughout California for his oboe performances.  “Curtis Kidwell plays with fluid skill and emotion.  Brilliant!” – Auburn Journal.  “Mr. Kidwell performed all three movements beautifully, with quick brilliance.” – Sacramento Bee

A native of Santa Cruz, California, Curtis began playing the oboe at age 16, previously studying the clarinet. His professional training began under the tutelage of Pam Haki (former Principal Oboe of the San Jose Symphony and Opera San Jose). He earned his Bachelors of Music at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida, studying with Erica Yamada (Co-Principal Oboe, Florida Philharmonic and Florida Grand Opera) in 1995.  He then pursued further studies at the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music, earning his Masters of Music Performance in 1997. In San Francisco, Curtis studied under the master direction of John deLancie (former Principal Oboe of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra and Dean of Curtis Institute of Music).

After completing his studies in San Francisco in 1999, Curtis made his way to Sacramento to further his professional career.  He is currently the Principal Oboe of the Auburn Symphony, Folsom Lakes Symphony, Vallejo Symphony, and Camellia Symphony, and is former Co-Principal Oboe/English Horn of Napa Valley Symphony.  He has received many scholarships to many prestigious festivals throughout the United States and Europe, including the Aspen, Tanglewood, Marrowstone, Pacific, and Bowdoin Music Festivals, often serving as teaching faculty as well as performing.  Curtis is a winner of the Fischof Chamber Music, Carmel Chamber Society, and Colmann Chamber Competitions, and is a member of the Tres Musicos Trio, Capitol Chamber Players, and Wolfgang (Sacramento Philharmonic Wind Quintet), both performing and arranging works for chamber ensembles.

Maquette Kuper, Principal Flute

Maquette Kuper
Principal Flute

Maquette Kuper performs as principal flute with the Auburn Symphony and has appeared several times with the orchestra as a soloist.  Ms. Kuper is a founding member of  MôD Artists.  She is also a member of the Crocker Art Museum Music Board, helping to organize their Classical Concert Series.  A longtime Davis resident, Ms. Kuper teaches flute privately and is the director and founder of the Davis Youth Flute Choir, which has toured to Japan, South Korea, and China, and garnered several awards and recognitions throughout the United States.  Ms. Kuper is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, spent two summers as a fellowship student at Tanglewood, and studied in Paris on a Fulbright fellowship.  She has also studied with Lloyd Gowen, James Pappoutsakis, and Michel Debost, and performed in numerous master classes given by Julius Baker.  Ms. Kuper is a winner of the Mu Phi Epsilon International Young Artist Competition and has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra.  Her performances have taken her to Europe and throughout the United States, and she has been listed in Outstanding Young Women of America.

Jaime Manganon
French Horn

Jaime Manganon is the Band and Choir Director at Elizabeth Pinkerton Middle School in the Elk Grove Unified School District.  She has taught music in public and private schools in Maryland and California since 1994.

Norma Sexton, Cello

Norma Sexton

Norma Sexton is a home-infusion pharmacist, teaches private lessons and enjoys playing chamber music.  She relocated to Auburn in 2011 from Bakersfield, California, where she was a member of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, served as librarian and board member for the Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra and participated in numerous musical events.

Paul Simmons, Trumpet

Paul Simmons

Paul Simmons earned his B.M. at the University of Delaware, and his M.M. at CSU, Sacramento and has studied with Gary Dilworth, Robert Halseth, David Blackinton, Richard Solis, Gilbert Johnson, Tony Crapis and Robert Goodman. Paul has performed with the Camellia, Sutter, Folsom and Auburn Symphonies, the Newcastle Brass, California Brass, the Davis Brass, and Christiana Horns.  He has performed and/or recorded with ensembles from Philadelphia to Las Vegas including Daimon, East Coast Connection, the Big Band Express and Stone Gumbo, playing musical styles from traditional jazz to hard rock.

Patty Wassum, Principal Clarinet

Patty Wassum
Principal Clarinet

Patty Wassum has been playing clarinet virtually all her life and earned a Bachelor’s in Music from CSU, Sacramento, in 1999 and her Master of Music from the University of South Carolina in 2001. During that time, she was a student of esteemed clarinetists Deborah Pittman and Doug Graham. From 2002-2012, she was the principal clarinet player of the Camellia Symphony Orchestra and was appointed principal clarinet for the Auburn Symphony in 2012. She is currently a music instructor in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Anson Wong
First Violin

Anson Wong has performed with the Auburn Symphony since 1999.  He was introduced to the violin at the age of eleven through the San Francisco public school system and developed his skills through his private studies with Oakland Symphony members Carol Garrett and Timothy Chan and with Giehl Irving Parsons of San Francisco.  In addition, Anson is a founding member of the Folsom Lake Symphony and has performed with the orchestra since 2004.  Anson has previously served as concertmaster for the Sierra College Orchestra and was a member of the U.C. Berkeley Summer Orchestra.

Anson received his Bachelors Degree in Business from U.C. Berkeley and his MBA from the University of Southern California. After a 20-year career in Finance and Marketing at Intel Corporation, Anson retired to pursue his passion in music. In addition to performing, Anson volunteers his time in Folsom Lake Symphony management and currently serves as the Board President.