Judy Keene – Principal French Horn

Picture of Judy Keene

My name is Judy Keene, and I am principal French Horn in the MFSO.  I first started playing with the orchestra about 25 years ago. 

I have always enjoyed music, and I think this interest originated with my mother. Music had been a very important part of her life, and she played violin, marimba, and French horn.  Naturally she wanted to instill that love of music in her kids as well.  I started out playing piano. When I was old enough to play a wind instrument, I followed my mom’s lead and took up the French horn.  This was a decision I regretted in grade school when I had to carry the heavy case around!  In Junior High I began to appreciate the beautiful mellow sound of the instrument, and the way the horn fit into the ensemble. 

When I went off to college, I was specializing in the sciences. I wasn’t sure how much time I would be able to devote to music.  Initially, I decided that I was just going to play in the orchestra. But by the time I graduated, I was taking almost as many music credits as in my major.  Music had become such a key part of my life. I have continued to try to find a balance between the arts and sciences.

Currently, I work in the field of toxicology at ACL Laboratories, a part of Advocate Aurora Healthcare.  In my free time, I play in a number of musical ensembles. These include concert bands, brass groups, pit orchestras, and my favorite — the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra.  I find playing in the orchestra both challenging and very rewarding.  The horn is often given independent and musically interesting parts which are really exciting to perform.  The four-part harmonies that can be produced by the full horn section are particularly fun to play. The teamwork involved makes it even more gratifying.  

There have been many memorable concerts with the MFSO. The one that stands out most was a performance of Mahler Symphony No. 1.  It is an amazing piece of music, and we had a great six-person horn section.  Playing with bells up at the end of the piece was literally a “blast.”  

The MFSO is also a special group to play with. It has had a close relation to the community over the years.  Highlights include the Armed Man performances on the anniversaries of 9/11, the Messiah sing-alongs, the Valentine’s Day concerts featuring local musicians, and the outdoor Falls Fest performances.  The orchestra has always programmed music that appeals to everyone. Mike and some of the orchestra members have made excellent arrangements as needed!

When not at work or playing my horn, I spend time at my cabin in Northern Wisconsin. I enjoy hiking, kayaking, photography, and playing with my two dachshunds.