In July of 2010, Lieutenant Colonel Jim Keene assumed command as the 23rd Leader of the United States Military Academy Band, West Point, New York, where the band has been in continuous residence since 1817. A Native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lt. Col. Keene previously served as Commandant of the Army School of Music at Norfolk, Virginia. Lt. Col. Keene’s military service has also included duties at The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” Washington, DC.; the U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus, Heidelberg, Germany; and the Army Ground Forces Band, Atlanta, Georgia.
As music director of The U.S. Army Strings and the U.S. Army Chorus in Washington, DC., Lt. Col. Keene arranged and produced performances for international military and civilian leaders, dignitaries, and heads of state. He led The U.S. Army Chorus in performances at the interments of former Presidents Ronald Reagan in Simi Valley, California, and Gerald R. Ford in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the Army, he has conducted the Dallas Wind Symphony and the Cincinnati Pops orchestra. Other highlights include performances for six U.S. presidents and music planning for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, the dedication of the National WWII Memorial, the one year anniversary of 9/11, the "Kennedy Center Honors," "Spirit of America," and the Memorial Day "Times of Remembrance."
Prior to joining the Army, Lt. Col. Keene served as assistant conductor of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Symphony and was orchestra conductor on staff of the SMU International Conservatory Summer Festival in Taos, New Mexico. A multi-faceted musician, Lt. Col. Keene worked as a violinist, pianist, and music director of the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera. He has worked as an audition accompanist at the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School, and at the Manhattan School of Music. Lt. Col. Keene holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of New Mexico and a Master of Music with highest honors in Orchestral Conducting from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
A native of Bountiful, Utah, First Lieutenant Darrin Thiriot holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Utah and a Master of Music in Clarinet Performance from Northwestern University. In 2011 he completed both the Army Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Army Band Officer Course at Little Creek Naval Base, Virginia.
Earlier in his career, 1st Lt. Thiriot served as a clarinet player with various military bands: 23rd Army National Guard Band in Utah (1995-1999); U.S. Air Force Band of the West at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas (1999-2001); and the U.S. Air Force Band in Washington D.C. (2001-2011). 1st Lt. Thiriot is an avid soccer fan.
Chief Warrant Officer Three James M. Bettencourt joined the staff of the West Point Band in August of 2013 as Associate Bandmaster and Officer in Charge of the Jazz Knights and Hellcats. Mr. Bettencourt is a native of New Bedford, Massachusetts and a graduate of New Bedford High School. He holds both a Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance and a Bachelor of Education from Boston University, and has begun graduate studies at the University of Southern California.
His previous assignments include the Army Ground Forces Band at Fort McPherson, Georgia; US Army School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia; and the US Army Europe Band and Chorus in Heidelberg, Germany. He has been assigned as Commander of the 282nd Army Band in Fort Jackson, South Carolina; the First Armored Division Band in Wiesbaden, Germany; and the US Army Signal Corps Band in Fort Gordon, Georgia. Mr. Bettencourt’s training includes the Primary Leadership Development Course, Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course, Warrant Officer Candidate School, Warrant Officer Basic Course, and the Warrant Officer Advanced Course. He is a veteran of the Iraqi Sovereignty and Operation New Dawn campaigns, having deployed to Iraq as commander of the First Armored Division Band in 2010.
His awards include: the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3rd award), Army Commendation Medal (5th award), Army Achievement Medal (5th award), Meritorious Unit Citation, Iraq Campaign Medal (two campaign stars), Army Good Conduct Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
|Band Sergeant Major|
Command Sergeant Major James Mullins is originally from Florence, Alabama. He enlisted in the Army in 1986. After attending the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, VA and continuing his first enlistment with the 392nd Army Band at Fort Lee, Virginia, Command Sgt. Major Mullins attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1993. He then attended the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University where he was awarded a Master of Music degree in 1995.
He returned to military service in 1995 by joining the Army Ground Forces Band at Ft. McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia as Principal Oboist, where he served alongside the West Point Band’s current commander, then 2nd Lt. Jim Keene. Command Sgt. Maj. Mullins joined the West Point Band in 1996 as the Assistant Principal Oboe and Solo English Horn. He has held many additional duties including Woodwind Group Leader and Administrative NCOIC. In 2008, he became the Concert Band NCOIC and was assigned to serve as Family and Support Division Sergeant Major.
Command Sgt. Major Mullins served as principal oboe in the concert band from 2002 to 2013 and has performed throughout the country with the West Point Band. One career highlight is serving as concertmaster of the West Point Band during two sold out performances at the New York Philharmonic’s Avery Fisher Hall. Command Sgt. Major Mullins served as the oboist with the Academy Wind Quintet from 1996 to 2013. As a member of the quintet, Command Sgt. Major Mullins has performed recitals for diverse audiences from coast to coast.