Home > Alumni, Awards, Chamber Music, Composition, Guitar > Stony Brook Alumnus Steven Mackey (MA, composition) Wins Grammy for Best Small Ensemble Performance

Stony Brook Alumnus Steven Mackey (MA, composition) Wins Grammy for Best Small Ensemble Performance

February 13, 2012


Steven Mackey was born in 1956, to American parents stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. His first musical passion was playing the electric guitar, in rock bands based in northern California. He later discovered concert music and has composed for orchestras, chamber ensembles, dance, and opera. He regularly performs his own work, including two electric guitar concertos and numerous solo and chamber works, and is also active as an improvising musician and performs with his band Big Farm.

His most Recent CD – Lonely Motel: Music From Slide – was nominated for 4 grammy awards including Best Contemporary Composition and Best Small Ensemble Performance. Also released in the fall of 2012 is his epic work for SO percussion – It Is Time – on Cantelope records. This release includes a DVD of the work by Mark DeChiazza.

He is currently working on piece for the SOLI ensemble in San Antonio Texas. In 2012 he will be writing a new work for the Brentano String Quartet and a large multi movement piece for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Stumble to Grace, his piano concerto for Orli Shaham, co-commissioned by the LA Philharmonic, the St. Louis and New Jersey Symphonies was recently premiered and TONIC, an orchestral work for the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia will premiere in February. He will also be performing in a variety of contexts including his role as guitarist and narrator in his music theater piece called SLIDE with eighth blackbird and Rinde Eckert.

As a composer, Mackey has been honored by numerous awards and has been the composer-in-residence at major music festivals, including Tanglewood, Aspen and the Holland Festival. Among his commissions are works for the Chicago, St Louis, New World, San Francisco Symphonies, and Dutch Radio, symphonies, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC Philharmonic, The Scottish and Swedish Chamber Orchestras, the Kronos Quartet, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, Fromm Music Foundation, Brentano String Quartet, Borromeo String Quartet, Fred Sherry, Dawn Upshaw, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and many others.

As a guitarist, Mackey has performed his chamber music with the Kronos Quartet, Arditti Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Nexttime Ensemble (Parma), Psappha (Manchester), and Joey Baron. As a concerto soloist he has performed with many conductors including David Robertson, Michael Tilson Thomas, Peter Etvos, Dennis Russell Davies, and many others.

His monodrama, Ravenshead, for tenor/actor (Rinde Eckert) and electro-acoustic band/ensemble (the Paul Dresher Ensemble), has been performed nearly 100 times and is available on a MINMAX CD. In a year-end review of cultural events, USA Today crowned the work the “Best New Opera of 1998.”

Recent CD releases include Steven Mackey: Dreamhouse, an hour-long oratorio for amplified vocal ensemble, electric guitar quartet, and orchestra conducted by Gil Rose on the BMOP sound label. Dreamhouse was nominated for 4 Grammy awards including Best Classical Album of 2010. Also newly released is Busted Micro Shorts, three chamber works featuring percussionist Tim Williams and the Psappha ensemble. Other available discs of Mackey’s work include Lost and Found: Mackey performing his own solo electric guitar music, released by Bridge Records in 1996; Tuck and Roll: Michael Tilson Thomas conducting orchestral music by Mackey, released in 2001 by BMG-RCA Red Seal; String Theory: the Brentano String Quartet playing string quartets and string quartets with the addition of other instruments, released in 2003 on Albany Records; Heavy Light: Mosaic playing mixed chamber ensemble music, released in 2004 by New World Records. Interior Desigin (2006): featuring music for violin with Curtis Macomber on Bride Records and Speak Like the People, Write Like the King (2008): string quartets and octets for the Borromeo and Brentano Quartets also on Bridge Records. Tuck and Roll and Lost and Found both made the New York Times year-end top ten list, along with similar lists in several other publications. Individual works by Mackey are included on numerous collections on Nonesuch, BMG/Catalyst, CRI, Newport Classics, and many other labels.

Mackey is currently Professor of Music and chair of the Department of Music at Princeton University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1985. Helping to shape the next generation of composers and musicians, he teaches composition, theory, twentieth century music, improvisation, and a variety of special topics. He regularly coaches and conducts new work by student composers, as well as 20th-century classics. He was the recipient of Princeton University’s first Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991.

Mackey’s web site is http://www.stevenmackey.com. His music is published by Boosey & Hawkes. Hi lives in Princeton New Jersey with his wife, composer Sarah Kirkland Snider, and their son Jasper.

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