Rob Keene earned a Bachelor of Music degree (1999) in organ performance, summa cum laude, at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He studied organ with Carla Edwards; he also studied piano with Lorna Griffitt and chamber music with Claude Cymerman. At Indiana University, Rob joined Christopher Young’s organ studio, earning a Master of Music degree (2009). He gained admittance to the doctoral program and continued his studies for one year before seeking full-time employment as a church musician.
Rob moved to Virginia in August, 2011, to work as Organist and Director of Music at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Newport News. Prior to his appointment at Trinity, Rob served United Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran churches in Indiana for twelve years. In 2012, he began serving Jewish congregations as well. Soon after, he was appointed Director of Music at Congregation Emet V’Or in Newport News, where he served for nearly seven years.
Late in 2019, Rob moved to Concord, North Carolina, to serve as Interim Organist and Director of Music at St. James Lutheran Church. This 175-year-old congregation boasts a beautiful 3-manual organ, originally a 1927 Hook and Hastings, and a two-manual harpsichord by Willard Martin of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
In early 2020, Rob was appointed Artistic Director of the SoCo Women’s Chorus, a vibrant community ensemble in Austin, Texas. Later that year he began serving St. Theresa Catholic Church as organist.
He is happiest when rehearsing and performing as a member of an ensemble. Prior to relocating to North Carolina, Rob performed regularly with the fully professional Schola Cantorum of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (Richmond, Virginia). Between 2014 and 2018, he performed with The Virginia Chorale; previously he sang in the professional core of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Rob has sung under many notable conductors, including Robert Nance, William Jon Gray, JoAnn Falletta, Charles Woodward, and, most recently, Daniel Sañez.
In a previous musical life as a trombonist, Rob toured the United States with Star of Indiana’s Brass Theater, performing alongside the Canadian Brass in sold-out venues including Tanglewood, Lincoln Center, Wolf Trap, Ravinia, and the Hollywood Bowl.
For several years he was an instructor with Christopher Newport University’s LifeLong Learning Society (Newport News, Virginia), leading courses on Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Mozart, and Wagner’s Ring Cycle, among others.
When not at the keyboard or preparing scores, Rob enjoys reading or working in the kitchen with his wife, Dani. (Their lovable terrier mutt, Ripley, is likely underfoot.)
Shawn has worked as a musician in Austin, Texas since 1982. He is a pianist, but has also performed as a composer, arranger, bandleader, organist, vocalist, musical director, and dance class accompanist. Mr. Ellison often performs as a soloist, but is equally comfortable performing with a duo, trio, quartet, quintet, or big band. He has been privileged to share the stage with Cat Anderson, Slide Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Gorshin, and Phyllis Diller. His original dance suite “Texas” was performed at the University of Texas’ Bass Concert Hall.
Mr. Ellison accompanies ballet classes at Ballet Austin and at the University of Texas at Austin, and classes at the Austin Waldorf School. He has also worked with the Joffrey Workshop TX in San Antonio every summer since 1987. His band, Native Sun, won Best Jazz Band in the Austin Chronicle Music Poll in 1990, 1991, and 1992.
Mr. Ellison has performed at Tarry House, a private club, since 1989, as well as Truluck’s, Perry’s, the Driskill Hotel, Eddie V’s, the Four Seasons, and many other Austin venues. He has worked with Esther’s Follies and played for several years with Mr. Fabulous and his band. He recently played with the Austin Symphony Orchestra at the Long Center in a pops concert. He has worked at numerous churches, and currently serves as pianist for Sunday morning services at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and Sunday evening services at St. James Episcopal Church in Austin.
Mr. Ellison holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies from Texas State University.Mr. Ellison served on the Executive Board of the Austin Federation of Musicians from 2012 to 2014. He is proud to be associated with Symphony of Soul, for whom he sometimes leads singalongs for Alzheimer’s patients.
Board of Directors
Alex Bosier, Board Chairman
Frances Dunham, Board Secretary
Olivia Lambert, Board Treasurer
Jill Fender, Board Member
Bernie Muegel, Board Member
Ashley Prentice, Board Member
Holly Salinas, Board Member
Julie Stiles, Board Member
Zonia Tsang, Board Member
Joel Baldazo, Dallas Entrepreneur
David Brock, TCU Director of Opera Theatre
Cathy Brown, Founder & Artistic Director, New Texas Symphony Orchestra
Billie Buddenhagen, Director of Operations, Ballet Austin
Larry Carter, Former SoCo Board of Directors Member
Chester Eitze, Executive Director, Bastrop Opera House
Craig Hella Johnson, Founder & Artistic Director, Conspirare
Joseph Martin, Composer; Shawnee Music Press
Antoine Spencer, former principal accompanist, Turtle Creek Chor