Winifred Keane was born in Beijing, China in 1931, where her father, Dr. Fred Harbert, was stationed as a Navy doctor. She was one of six girls. By the time she was five years old, she was already creating and singing her own songs.
In 1952, she received a BFA degree in voice and composition from The University of Pennsylvania. Her choral composition won a prize that year. She married George Keane and they had three children, Brian, Geoffrey, and Sheila- all musical.
After moving to Lee, Massachusetts, she directed an SATB Church Choir, singing and composing music for them.
She won two scholarships to Tanglewood, studying choral music with Hugh Ross and composition with Roger Sessions.
In Westport, CT, Winifred studied voice with Metropolitan Opera bass, Alexander Kipnis, and made her Carnegie Recital Hall debut as lyric soprano in 1962 to critical acclaim, specializing in Early and Contemporary music:
She also sang and performed her own compositions in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. She introduced the songs of
Charles Ives from Danbury,CT and was greatly influenced by him as a composer.
After obtaining a teaching certification in music with a BS degree from Western Connecticut College in 1967, she taught children K-6 in New Canaan and adult education at Fairfield University. Later, she took up the French horn in order to write better for brass instruments, and played in bands, orchestras and solo recitals.
She received an MFA degree in composition from Sarah Lawrence College. Her composition Woodwinds and Percussion was premiered there in 1972, under the tutelage of Saul Goodman, first percussionist of The New York Philharmonic.
Her interest in world music found her singing Indian ragas at Wesleyan University, and folksongs in Mandarin with Chinese traditional instrumentalists. She became an improvisation leader with Music For People.
Commissioned to compose for artists, writers, and organizations, she received awards and prizes from The Westport Arts Center,The National League of American Pen Women, and The National Endowment of the Arts. International Greeting was commissioned by The US Coast Guard Band in 1985.
A founding member of Connecticut Composers Incorporated, she later became a member of The American Composers Forum. Her poetry is published by Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts. Her music is published by Penwyn Press. The Connecticut Post featured an article on “The Spirited Life of Composer Winifred Keane” in 2005.*
Music compositions by Winifred Keane include: Opera, oratorio, choral, songs, orchestra, band, instrumental, sacred music, electronic, microtonal. Her music has been performed at Columbia and Yale Universities, Pequot and Lincoln Center Libraries, Westport Town Hall, and The Philadelphia Art Alliance.
In 2011 Winifred Keane, moved to Ashlar Village in Wallingford with her Best Friend, Walter Schlenker, where she is still composing and performing.
Her grandsons, Wylder and Dylan, continue the musical family tradition with computer technology and rap music.
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