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Our Team


Pete Nowlen

Artistic Director

VITA Academy Artistic Director, Pete Nowlen has been a dynamic force in the Sacramento arts community for more than 30 years. As a member of the faculty of UC Davis and CSU Sacramento, he has mentored a generation of musicians and music teachers for our region. Currently he holds director positions with Music in the Mountains, Symphony d’Oro Rancho Cordova, Camerata California, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and UCD Concert Bands.


Maquette Kuper


“Maki” plays principal flute in the Auburn Symphony is the director and founder of the Davis Youth Flute Choir and a founding member of MôD Artists. Ms. Kuper is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, spent two summers as a fellowship student at Tanglewood (summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), and studied in Paris on a Fulbright fellowship. Ms. Kuper is a winner of the Mu Phi Epsilon International Young Artist Competition and has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra. 


Portia Njoku

Vice President

Portia Njoku is a tubist, composer, and music educator here in the Sacramento region. Ms. Njoku is a faculty member at the music departments at UC Davis, American River and Folsom Lake Colleges. She is committed to providing music and music education to under represented communities as well promoting awareness of the tuba. Ms. Njoku is also the Finance Director for the Chromatic Brass Collective. 


Omari Tau


Omari Tau, baritone, and Sacramento native, is Professor of Vocal Music at Cosumnes River College.  He is also Artistic Director of Rogue Music Project.  His degrees are from Michigan State University and the Moores School of Music-University of Houston in Music Education and Vocal Music Performance.  At home in the operatic and musical theatre worlds, as well as in jazz and pop genres, Mr. Tau has proven a versatile performing artist, educator, and director.


Dan Rooney


Dan is a retired attorney. A graduate of Northwestern University Law School, he has had a varied career over 40 years as an assistant state attorney general, corporate counsel and business practitioner. He has practiced law in Washington State and New York as well as California. Dan and his wife, Angie, have lived in Fair Oaks since 1991. A supporter of local arts and music education, Dan belongs to the Sacramento Guitar Society as well as Vita Academy. 


Madeline Brattesani

Board Member

Retired environmental research scientist form the State of California Madeline Brattesani is also an amateur ukulele player and hula dancer. She is an avid supporter of music education.


Corinthia Duke

Board Member

Mrs. Duke retired as a research analyst for the State of California to develop after school  music programs for elementary school children including K-8 piano, choir, and musical theatre over 15 years at California Montessori Project Public Charter Schools.  She sang for many years with gospel choirs directed by Dr. Precious Bell Craft.  She currently sings with Cosumnes River College Contemporary Gospel Choir (CRC) and plays trumpet with the CRC Concert band.


Stephanie Sugano

Board Member

Stephanie Sugano teaches middle school band at Cooley and Chilton Middle School and is the conductor of the Roseville Community Concert Band.  In 2016-17, she was named Roseville City School District Teacher of the Year and Placer County's Middle School Teacher of the Year.   In 2019, she was named Band Director of the Year for the California Music Educator’s Association, Capitol Section.

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