University of Illinois School of Music Professor Emeritus, James F. Keene was appointed in 1985, and was only the fourth person to hold the position of Director of Bands since 1905.
During his 23-year tenure at Illinois, the UI Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony were selected to perform for every major music conference in the U.S., toured internationally and performed in America’s most prestigious concert halls, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. Also under James direction, the UI ensembles produced one of the most extensive bodies of commercial band recordings. These recordings have been broadcast on National Public Radio in the U.S., as well as radio programs in Asia, Australia, and several European countries.
James is a Past-President of the American Bandmasters Association and recently completed a term as chairman of its Board of Directors. He is also a Past-President of the National Band Association and The Big Ten Band Directors Association. For several years he served as chairman of the ABA/Ostwald Composition Contest, and is currently a member of the Editorial Board of The Journal of Band Research. In addition to membership in several professional and honorary societies, Mr. Keene is an Evans Scholar, Past-President of the Champaign Rotary Club, and a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary International Foundation.
In 1993, James was named as an honorary member of the Board of Directors of the International Percy Grainger Society in recognition of his devotion to the music of Grainger; he also serves on the Board of Directors of the John Philip Sousa Foundation and the historic Goldman Memorial Band of New York City. Recently, James was named Honorary Life Member of the Texas Bandmasters Association, becoming only the sixth person to be so honored in the 55-year history of that organization. He has served as clinician, conductor, and adjudicator throughout the United States and around the world, with appearances most recently in Australia, Singapore, Japan and Europe.