Professor McKeown is excited to return to Westwood this year to lead the UCLA Bruin Marching and Varsity Band. His duties will also include directing the university’s Symphonic Band in the Winter and Spring Quarter. As an undergraduate student he led the “Solid Gold Sound” as a four-year Drum Major and was later a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Bruin Marching Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble. While attending UCLA he was involved in two Rose Bowls, the Cotton Bowl, and the Aloha Bowl. He was also a participant in two movies and was a member of the band that performed at the re-election campaign for President William Jefferson Clinton in 1996. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees in music education and conducting from the University of California, Los Angeles under the mentoring of Dr. Thomas Lee, Dr. Frank Heuser, and Gordon Henderson.
Mr. McKeown is currently the Director of Bands at Santa Monica High School, where the Wind Ensemble was selected as the only high school wind band to perform at the 2016 California All-State Music Education Conference (CASMEC) in San Jose, CA. Regarded as one of the strongest public school programs in the State of California, the groups at “Samohi” have received unanimous superior ratings at concert festivals, and first place/ Sweepstakes Awards in field tournaments throughout Southern California. Performance highlights with the Samohi Wind Ensemble include “showcase” performances with World Projects in Chicago Symphony Hall, John F. Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. In April of 2019 he took the Samohi Wind Ensemble on a successful tour of Rome, including a performance at the Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola. He was honored with a “Teacher of the Year” award by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District P.T.A. in 2016. McKeown previously taught for two years as a middle school director and nine years as an elementary music teacher for the district. He has been a faculty member at Santa Monica College since 2002, and the Clare Trevor School of Music at UC Irvine since 2008 as conductor of the Wind Ensemble.
Mr. McKeown is an active guest conductor and clinician internationally, including the School Honours Ensemble Program (SHEP) High School Honor Band in Brisbane, Australia. He has had the pleasure to collaborate professionally with renowned artists including Eric Whitacre, Andrew Bain, Michael Sachs, Christopher Martin , Michael McDonald and “Weird Al” Yankovic in recent years, and was a guest conductor of the United States Air Force Concert Band (2012). In the summer of 2019 he led the Samohi Marching Band for the nationally viewed “Stranger Things” Season 3 Premiere in Santa Monica, CA.
An avid promoter of new composers and commissions, in 2016 his ensemble premiered the Brian Belski arrangement Aaron Copland’s “Letter from Home” (available through Hal Leonard/Boosey and Hawkes) at the California All-State Music Education Conference, and in 2019 took part in a consortium of Julie Giroux’s “The Ash Grove”, dedicated to Dr. Eric Hammer, former Director of Bands – University of Pacific.