About James Keene

About James Keene

James Keene is a versatile soloist, chamber musician, and music pedagogue. 

Originally from the Caribbean, at age 14 James’s family moved to the Philadelphia, PA area where he quickly joined the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and was immediately promoted to Co-Concertmaster during the first rehearsal by the conductor, Joseph Primavera.

In 2004 James was admitted as a scholarship recipient at Interlochen Arts Academy. There, he studied with Hal Grossman and was first violinist in the arts high school’s flagship string quartet, the Hemingway String Quartet. As a member of this ensemble, James performed numerous concerts throughout the Midwest, including in Chicago, Detroit, and Grand Rapids. The quartet also performed a live, televised performance on ABC Chicago’s Good Morning America.

James then attended Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, where he studied with Todd Phillips, Catherine Cho, and Lenuta Ciulei. As a scholarship student at Mason Gross, James traveled to Spain with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops and served as co-concertmaster. 

James later received the Presidential Scholarship from San Francisco Conservatory, where he studied with Wei-He. During this time, he served as violinist in the Reno Philharmonic, the Merced Symphony, and the Mendocino Music Festival.

In the present, James appears regularly with the New Haven Symphony in Connecticut, the Philly Pops, the Mann Center Orchestra, the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra, and is known in the New York metropolitan area as a performer and teacher. Throughout his career he has played solo, chamber, and orchestral performances for audiences throughout China, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and the USA. He is an active festival musician, and appears regularly with the Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival, the Pikes Falls Chamber Music Festival, and the Colour of Music Festival, where he has served as concertmaster. As co-founder of the Southwest Chamber Music Festival, which will be entering its 4th season in 2025, he also performs regularly in New Mexico. 

He was the recipient of the 1st place award at the Russel Johnson Strings Competition in Philadelphia, PA and has shared the Carnegie Hall stage with Dionne Warwick. He has also engaged in live and recorded collaborations with Jay-Z, Vanessa Williams, The Who, and Andrea Bocelli.