Steven Mackey

composer bio

Composer and guitarist Steven Mackey was born to American parents stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He is regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation and has composed for orchestra, chamber ensembles, dance, and opera. He has received numerous awards, including a Grammy, several awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award. Mackey’s first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands based in northern California. He blazed a trail in the ’80s and ’90s by including the electric guitar and vernacular music influence in his concert music and he regularly performs his own work, including two electric guitar concertos and numerous solo and chamber works. Mackey is also active as an improvising musician and performs with his band Big Farm. 

Mackey is Professor of Music and former chair of the Department of Music at Princeton University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1985. He was the recipient of Princeton University’s first Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991. Mackey was Composer in Residence at Yellow Barn in 2003, and in 2013 completed an Artist Residency that led to the composition of One Red Rose for the Brentano Quartet, commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and Yellow Barn to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.