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Keith Johnston, Director of Performing Arts, Director of Bands and Orchestra 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 University Band and Orchestra 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 Orchestra, Concert, Marching, Pep Bands, and Wind Ensemble, Johnston also directs the brass ensemble, teaches trombone, and oversees the instrumental chamber music program.  

Mr. Johnston has been a music director and conductor for professional, community, and educational bands, orchestras, and opera companies, conducting performances in a dozen states and half a dozen countries around the world. He’s conducted high school honor bands in CT, PA, and Illinois, and given master classes at Mott College, and University of Michigan-Flint.


Mr. Johnston also conducts and teaches at Ecole Musique Sainte Trinite in Port au Prince, Haiti, and has directed brass festivals in Port au Prince, and Jacmel, Haiti. An advocate of Haitian composers, Mr. Johnston gave the American and European premier of Occide Jeanty’s Chery Marche Funebre, and gave the American and European premier of the band transcription of Ludovic Lamothe’s Danza No. 4 during the SHU band’s European tour in 2018.  He’s given numerous world premieres including Blue Iris for Trombone and Organ, and 9 Feet of Brass, Concerto for Trombone and Band - both composed for him by Steven Rosenhaus -  and Edward Thompson’s The Poem of the One World for trombone and organ, premiered in Ireland in 2016.  In February, 2017, he was invited by the Orquesta Sinfonica de Oriente in Santiago, Cuba to perform and conduct in a program that included the world premier of Cuban composer Ernesto Burgos’ Suite Cubana Para Metales.  In 2018 he conducted a new music project at SHU featuring a faculty and student ensemble premiering new works by composers Mel Mobley, Steven Rosenhaus, and Ray Strobel for chamber ensemble, dancers, and mixed media based on the Buddhist tradition of the The Four Immeasurables.  

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Mr. Johnston has taken the Sacred Heart Band and Orchestra on five international tours, including Ireland, Italy, Prague and Vienna.

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.  He currently serves on the board of BLUME Haiti, a non-profit organization that works to develop leadership skills through music education and performance in Haiti. Mr. Johnston is a member of NAfME, CBDNA, CMEA, CODA, a Life Member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and an Honorary Member of Kappa Kappa Psi.

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