Keith Lipson grew up in Malibu, California, where he began playing the clarinet at the age of 8. His first teacher was a notable Hollywood studio musician, Charles Boito. He subsequently studied with master teacher Yehuda Gilad at the Colburn School for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles.
At the age of 16, Keith one 1st prize in the International Clarinet Association Solo Competition (Youth Division). In the same year, Keith became one of the youngest clarinetist to ever be accepted into the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. While at Curtis Keith worked closely with many musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra including, oboist Richard Woodhams, clarinetist Donald Montanaro, clarinetist Anthony Giliotti, and flutist Jeffrey Khaner. For two years he was principal clarinet of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, playing under the baton of conductors such as Andre Previn, Kurt Masur, Simon Rattle, James Levine, Robert Spanow, Wolfgang Swallisch and Yuri Temirkanov.
While at Curtis, Keith became a founding member and principal clarinet of the critically acclaimed Wild Ginger Philharmonic which regularly performed sold-out concerts in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. After graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music, Keith continued his musical studies at the University of Southern California studying again with Yehuda Gilad, renowned clarinet pedagogue Mitchell Lurie and Los Angeles Philharmonic principal clarinetist Michelle Zukovsky.
He was previously principal clarinet with the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland and the Orchestra of the State of Mexico, has performed with The New West Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and has appeared in the chamber music series at Barge Music in New York with members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.
Keith was previously principal clarinet of the Knights Chamber Orchestra in New York with who he has recorded two albums for Sony Classical and toured extensively in the United States and Europe. He is currently principal clarinet of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, which has an exclusive recording contract with EMI. As a devotee of new music, he is a member of the International Contemporary Music Ensemble in New York, and has performed with them at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center with guest artist Peter Serkin. Keith is a co-founder of the Beijing New Music Ensemble whose debut album was recorded on the Naxos label featuring the works of Zhou Long and Chen Yi.
In addition to regularly performing solo, chamber and orchestral music on three continents, Keith is also a devoted teacher whose students have been accepted at prestigious music schools and conservatories, including 3 students accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music, the Colburn School of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Muisc, the Oberlin School of Music, Hamburg Hochschule for Music and the Interlochen Arts Academy.