Dennis Keene


Dennis Keene has long been one of the most respected conducting teachers in the choral world. After running the Chorus America Conductors' Academy for four years with Gregg Smith in Saranac, NY, he began his own Dennis Keene Choral Festival, which ran for six years in Kent, CT. and New York City. He has given conducting masterclasses all across the United States for national and regional conventions of ACDA, AGO and Chorus America, as well as at church music conferences, high schools, universities and conservatories, including Westminster Choir College and Eastman School of Music.

Dennis Keene's love for choral music was inspired by his work as organist for some of the greatest figures in American choral music, including Roger Wagner, Gregg Smith, Margaret Hillis, Robert Page, Michael Korn, Margaret Hawkins, Iva Dee Hyatt, and Abraham Kaplan. He went on to study conducting with Maestro Charles Bruck for five years at the Pierre Monteux School for Orchestral Conducting in Hancock, Maine, and privately in Paris. After over 40 years of conducting choruses of all types – professional, community choruses, church choirs, and school choruses, as well as making many recordings with his celebrated Voices of Ascension (including a Grammy-nomination and Billboard Chart listings,) he brings a lifetime of experience to his work with conductors of all ages and backgrounds.

His goal in teaching is to help each individual conductor unlock the musicality within – to give conductors the ability to express what is inside them.

Quotes from Alumni Conductors of The Dennis Keene Choral Festival

  • "a transformative experience"
  • "life-changing"
  • "one of the most memorable and satisfying experiences in my life"
  • "I want to tell you what a meaningful experience I had at the workshop, and to thank you for encouraging me so sincerely. There isn't really an easy way to find the words to describe my feelings, but I feel changed in a significant way. You opened a connection between technique and soul within me that will profoundly influence my future work."
  • "Dennis not only gave us the opportunity and encouragement to build confidence on the podium, he got right to the essence of every problem and offered advice which didn't necessarily eliminate the problem completely, but gave us the tools to develop an ideal solution. I so appreciated that Dennis allowed different styles of conducting as long as the idiosyncrasies did not interrupt the music. For me there can never be too much time to conduct for Dennis."
  • "Keenefest, for me, made painfully clear the lack of humanitarian awareness in so many professional musicians and their productions. Dennis never loses sight of the fact that his is an intensely spiritual leadership position. By being attuned to the fact that these are PEOPLE in front of him and not just "musicians," he enables the ensembles to rise above merely making astoundingly beautiful music and creates a profound connection between performers and audience. And despite his gifted and meticulous (and eminently enjoyable!) approach to rehearsals, his fabulous ears, and his intelligently honed natural musicianship, Dennis' most vital contribution to the music world is his heart."
  • "He knows how to go directly to the problem a conductor is having, and makes breakthroughs with them. I learned life-changing lessons."
  • "The whole endeavor far surpassed my expectations. Dennis Keene has a wonderful reputation, but until you work with him, you can't fathom how he is able to bring everyone to such a high standard. My sincere thanks and admiration to all who worked to make this possible."
  • "A highlight was working one on one with Maestro Keene. This has changed my music making forever."

Alumni of The Dennis Keene Choral Festival became:

Directors of Choral Activities at Major Universities
Harvard University
Wellesley
Hofstra
Vanderbilt University (also Associate Dean)
Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY
Interlochen Arts Camp
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA
Assumption College, Worcester, MA
Brown University
Northern Illinois University
St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia
Loyola University, Chicago
Creighton University, Omaha
Western Reserve Academy, Hudson, OH
Metropolitan State University, Denver (2 Directors, and also Associate Dean)
North Carolina State University
SUNY New Paltz
Washington and Lee University, Lexington VA
Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, IN
University of Regina, Canada
Dutchess Community College, NY
University of Virginia
St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY
Marietta College, OH
American University of Beirut
Catawba College, Salisbury, NC

Choral Conductors at Universities
Heidelberg University
University of Michigan
Smith College
Wayne State University, MI
Rutgers University, NJ
Catholic University, Washington DC
Westminster College, PA
Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts
North Central College, Napperville, PA
College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL
Guilford College, CT

Major Leaders of CA, ACDA, AGO, NCCO
President of US Eastern Division, ACDA
2 Presidents of Massachusetts Division, ACDA 
President of Illinois ACDA
Board Members of ACDA Divisions all across the country
President of the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO)