Director of Bands
Keith Johnston, Director of Bands at Sacred Heart University has a long and varied career as a performer, conductor, and educator in the United States, and internationally. He has taken the Sacred Heart Band on national, and international tours, commissioned new works, been featured in national television ad campaigns, and even made an appearance on MTV. In addition to directing the University Concert, Marching, and Pep Bands, Johnston also directs the brass ensemble, teaches low brass, and oversees the instrumental chamber music program. Mr. Johnston is also the founding member of the Sacred Heart University Faculty Brass Quintet.
Mr. Johnston has been Music Director for the Allegheny Brass Band of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Savoyards Opera Company, Auburn Chamber Orchestra (NY), and Onondaga Orchestra (NY). He has conducted the Edgewood Symphony (PA), North Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra, Pittsburgh Civic Symphony, IPFAC Chamber Orchestra (AR), Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestra (PA), and Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has also conducted high school honor bands in CT, PA, and Illinois.
In the summer, Mr. Johnston conducts the wind ensemble, coaches chamber music, and teaches low brass students at Ecole Musique Sainte Trinite in Port au Prince, Haiti. In Haiti he has directed International Brass Festival’s in Port au Prince (2012) and Jacmel (2016), and performed as a soloist with the Orchestra Philharmonique Sainte Trinite. In 2010 Mr. Johnston gave the world premier of Blue Iris for Trombone and Organ, composed for him by Steven Rosenhaus, and performed it in recital in 2011 in New York’s Flushing Town Hall with pianist Laura Leon, as well as in recital in Ireland. In April 2012 he gave the world premier of Rosenhaus’ Concerto for Trombone and Band, written for him and the Sacred Heart University Band, with the composer conducting. In 2013 he gave masterclasses with trombone students from Mott College, and University of Michigan-Flint, and performed the Concerto with the Mott College Band and Flint Concert Band. In 2016 he premiered Edward Thompson’s The Poem of the One World for trombone and organ while on tour in Dingle, Ireland.
Mr. Johnston has taken the Sacred Heart Band on three international tours, twice to Ireland (2012, 2016), and Italy (2014). In January 2018 he'll travel with the band on a concert tour to Prague and Vienna.
In February, 2017, Mr. Johnston was invited by the Orquesta Sinfonica de Oriente in Santiago, Cuba to perform and conduct in a special concert featuring the brass section of the orchestra with other local professional musicians. The concert included the world premier of Cuban composer Ernesto Burgos’ Suite Cubana Para Metales. Mr. Johnston has been invited back to Cuba in 2018 to conduct additional concerts.
Mr. Johnston received his Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Master of Music from Carnegie Mellon University. He has studied trombone with Byron McCulloh, and conducting with Robert Page, Juan-Pablo Izquierdo, Eduardo Alonso-Crespo, and Keith Lockhart, as well as advanced conducting studies at London’s Royal Academy of Music. Mr. Johnston is a member of CMEA, International Trombone Association, the Conductor’s Guild, and CBDNA where he serves as state chair. He is a lifetime member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and an Honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi, national band fraternity.
He currently serves on the board of BLUME Haiti, a non-profit organization that works to develop leadership skills and other opportunities through music education and performance in Haiti. BLUME provides instruments, supplies, teacher training, scholarships, and programming support throughout Haiti.
Degrees and Certifications
- M.M. (Conducting) - Carnegie Mellon University
- B.F.A. (Trombone) - Carnegie Mellon University
- University Band
- Brass Ensemble
- Low Brass Lessons