Making beautiful music

Symphony executive director Cultural Award winner
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Jennifer Keck wants to help you find one of the gems of the foothills that not everyone knows about. It’s a gem that sparkles with passion, energy and commitment. It’s the Auburn Symphony. And Keck, who both plays and works for the symphony, will be honored as this year’s Cultural Award winner at the annual Auburn State of the Community Dinner. “I’m delighted,” Keck said. “It’s an honor to be acknowledged like this.” Keck started her career with the Auburn Symphony as a violinist and currently holds its first chair position. She is also in her fifth year as its executive director. It’s a position she took after retiring from 30 years in law enforcement. She said the job comes with its challenges. Chief among them is increasing interest and visibility in the foothill orchestra. “It’s a very rigorous, challenging position, but when you get to the concert and hear that beautiful music and feel the emotion and energy of the musicians and the audience, it’s unparalleled,” Keck said. “That’s what makes it all worth it.” Keck said besides promoting the orchestra’s classical programming, the symphony engages in community outreach projects. Those projects include reaching out to senior care facilities and holding a young artists competition. Michael Goodwin, Auburn Symphony music director and conductor, described Keck as one who works tirelessly to help connect the community with “one of the highest level cultural organizations in Auburn.” “She’s left no stone unturned in trying to increase our visibility in the community, which is very difficult,” Goodwin said. Goodwin added that Keck’s work ethic has always stood out. “She has worked incredibly hard for the orchestra, putting in many hours,” Goodwin said. “She’s often having to fill in for other people who didn’t follow through. She’s always put the orchestra first.” Keck said she hopes that more people will discover the gem that is the Auburn Symphony. “This is just such a wonderful community that we live in and part of what makes it beautiful aside from the terrain and trees and mountains is the arts,” Keck said. “It includes all of the arts in the community. And to have an orchestra like this, I’m very fortunate to be a part of this.” Keck will be presented with the Cultural Award April 17 at the State of the Community Dinner held at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment. ---------- Get to know: Jennifer Keck Icy adventure: Keck spent a week in Churchill, Canada last year on a polar bear excursion. For six days she was taken by buggy to see polar bears on the tundra. “It was spectacular,” Keck said. Career: Prior to accepting the Auburn Symphony executive director role, Keck worked in law enforcement for 30 years. She retired as the assistant chief probation officer of Placer County. Hobbies: Travel, outdoors, reading, family, friends, and experiencing different cultural events such as the opera. Family: One son and two granddaughters City: Outlying area of Auburn ----------