B.Mus, B.Ed, M.Mus, D.Mus
My career over the last 40 years has been in the performance, direction, management, outreach/education and production of music. Since 1976, I have performed and recorded on percussion and drum-set in a variety of musical contexts - from contemporary chamber music with the ARRAYMUSIC ensemble, Ensemble Contemporaine de Montreal (ECM), and Societe de Musique Contemporaine du Quebec (SMCQ), to orchestral music with the Toronto Symphony and the Esprit Orchestra, through to free jazz with Barry Romberg's Random Access, world music with The Ritual Party, pop jazz with Kim Richardson, and blues/rock recordings with artists such as Serena Ryder and Myles Goodwyn, and many diverse avenues in between. I have been a featured soloist with ensembles and as a solo artist, at festivals in London, Paris, New York, Kyoto, Jakarta, Mexico City, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, and on CBC national radio.
I have three degrees from the University of Toronto (B.Mus, B.Ed, M.Mus). Between 2013 and 2016, I completed my doctoral degree at the University of Montreal. One of the principal goals of this degree was the development of a repertoire of solo works for gamelan. My study and research also involved a critical analysis of the naturalization and transculturation process of non-western instruments into our contemporary Canadian and North American Culture.
From 1990 to 1992, I was a music teacher with the Toronto District School Board, where I initiated various programs including: computers in music, African music and dance, and hybrid jazz steel band. Since that time I have taught private students in music, and given master classes in percussion, drums and general musicianship at various universities in Canada and Indonesia.
Since 1992 I have been the artistic director of the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan (ECCG), who specialize in the development, performance, and recording of contemporary music for gamelan. Under my direction, ECCG has: produced 10 critically acclaimed CDs, that feature music written specifically for the ensemble by composers John Cage, Lou Harrison, Gilles Tremblay, James Tenney, John Wyre, Walter Boudreau, Linda C. Smith, Andrew P. MacDonald, Ana Sokolovic, Michael Oesterle as well as many others; toured Japan, Europe, Canada, the United States, and Indonesia.
Through my work as the artistic director of Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, over the past 25 years, I have gained extensive experience writing grants at all levels of government as well as for foundations.
From 1993 to 1998, I toured and recorded with the Dangerous Kitchen Ensemble (ACREQ), performing the music of Frank Zappa in Europe, United States and Canada. I also took part in the recent 2016 remounting of this project, in Toronto, produced by the Art of Time Ensemble.
From 2000 to 2002, I performed with the Autumn Leaf Production of Kopernicus, by Claude Vivier, performing at the Musica Festival in Strasbourg, France, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in Huddersfield, England, and presentations in Banff, Montreal and Toronto.
Since 1986, I have performed frequently with The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company, Queen of Puddings Opera, Tapestry Theatre, Sound Streams and many other organizations in Toronto and Canada. In Toronto and on tour, I have been the drummer/percussionist on many Broadway shows, including Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Beauty and the Beast, Showboat, Mama Mia, Sound of Music and many others.
In 2006, I performed in the Queen of Puddings production of The Midnight Court, by Ana Sokolovic at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London, England.
I was the principal percussionist with the Esprit Orchestra from 1988 to 2009, and from 1999 to 2016, I was a full time member of the Arraymusic ensemble, a group dedicated to the creation, performance and recording of contemporary chamber music.
For over 30 years, I have received government grants for the arts federally, provincially and municipally. These grants have been for the annual funding of ECCG, project funding, touring, recording, repertoire development and creation, collaborations and co- productions, involving hundreds of artists, organizations and directors, throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Mexico, Japan and Indonesia.
In 2007, I was awarded a career study grant from Canada Council for the Arts.
In that same year, I co-founded the Hudson Music Festival (HMF), an eight-day music festival in the town of Hudson Quebec, just outside of Montreal. Over twelve years, HMF has become an integral part of the cultural fabric of the town of Hudson and the Monteregie Region of Quebec and eastern Ontario.
In 1987, I received a study grant to work with Ghanaian master drummer Abraham Adzenya.
From 2009 to 2012, I took over the drum chair of the classic Canadian rock group, April Wine and -- along side my continued work with Array Music, ECCG, HMF and other projects -- toured and recorded with the Juno award-winning group. I recently received a Hall of Fame Juno award and in 2009 I was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Blair Mackay EDUCATION
University of Montreal
Doctoral Degree in Music: specializing in Contemporary Gamelan, and the naturalization of non-western instruments into the North American Culture.
University of Toronto,
Bachelor of Education
Ontario Teacher's Certificate,
(Music and English majors, intermediate/senior level)
University of Toronto,
Master of Music in Performance Studied with Russell Hartenberger, Abraham Adzenya (Ghanaian music)
University of Toronto,
Bachelor of Music in Performance with Honours Studied with Russell Hartenberger, Robin Engelmen, Bob Becker (tabla)
Music Major, percussion
Studied with Robert Leroux and Pierre Bèluse
1975 - present
Private Students in, Percussion, Drum set, piano and General Musicianship. Master classes to students of music (University and community levels), through the Esprit Orchestra, Hemispheres and Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan in Toronto, across Canada, Japan and Europe.
1990 – 1992
North Albion Collegiate Institute, Etobicoke. Toronto. Band with Strings; Keyboard; Computers in music; General Musicianship; Steel Pan Ensemble; African Drum and Dance Ensemble.
DIRECTING AND MANAGING EXPERIENCE
Artistic Director and General Manager of Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan
This position involves (among other activities): managing and directing an eight member ensemble of highly skilled musicians; developing a unique international repertoire for the group; presenting a season of concerts; raising funds; organizing tours and run-outs; developing community gamelan outreach initiatives. Repertoire development for ECCG has involved upwards of one hundred new commissions in contemporary music, that includes theatre, opera, dance, world music, jazz and popular music.
ECCG has also been recorded on three major motion pictures and many international documentaries.
Artistic Director, founder and producer of the annual eight day Hudson Music Festival, in Hudson, Quebec
This position involves (among other activities): designing/directing the eight-day event; producing shows in a variety of venues (i.e.: churches clubs and in large tents, public parks etc.); overseeing the complete promotion of the festival; developing local and regional outreach initiatives with artists (professional and non-professional) in the community; managing the annual youth competition.
PERFORMANCE EXPERIENCE (highlights)
2018 – ECCG performed at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, with Ade and Nurrika Suparman. Presented the world premiere of New Diggs, by Peter Hatch for Gamelan.
– CD release of Origins with Mandy Lagan: reinterpreting Joni Mitchell repertoire (with Dave Restivo, Kevin Turcotte, Andrew Downing, Ted Quinlan, Jim Vivian)
- ECCG performances at the Munich International Gamelan Festival, June 2018. Produced and managed by Blair Mackay.
- Performances with ECCG (incl. management), HMF, private students, freelance work in jazz, blues and contemporary classical music.
2017 – Performances with ECCG (incl. management), COC (Louis Riel), HMF, private students, freelance work in jazz, and contemporary classical music.
2016 - S.M.C.Q performance, Œuvres de Antheil, Bernstein, Rea, Stravinski, Montreal.
- Art of Time Ensemble, performances presenting the music of Frank Zappa, Toronto.
- Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan concert release of the CD Higgs Ocean; Music for gamelan and string quartet. New works by Linda Bouchard and Ronald Bruce Smith.
2015 – Toured China with the Esprit orchestra, Toronto. (percussion)
- Produced and presented the opera How it Storms for gamelan, by Allen Cole, with
Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, (Toronto).
2014 - Toured British Columbia with Red Sky Theatre Productions.
- Presented the first of three recitals of new works for solo gamelan at the University of Montreal. (percussion)
2013 – Performed in the Broadway Production of Anything Goes, at the princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto.
- In The Cage. A two night presentation with ECCG, celebrating 100 years of John Cage, with guests, TorQ percussion ensemble and pianist Stephen Clarke.
- Performed Sacre du Printemps with Esprit Orchestra at Montreal New Music Festival.
- Performed L’histoire du Soldat with Arraymusic at the Enwave centre, Toronto. (celebrations for Stravinskys 100th anniversary of Sacre.....
2012 - Performed and recorded at Glenn Gould Studio, CBC, Toronto and in Montreal, with Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, in collaboration with the Bozzini string quartet. Works by Linda C. Smith, Michael Oesterle, Mark Duggan, Petar Klenak and Ana Sokolovic.
– Presented a Drumset Master Class at the University of Toronto for the Percussive Arts Society, Ontario Division.
- Performed on the Academy Award winning sound track for The Life of Pi, by Mychael Danna.
- Performed with ECCG at the Ottawa Chamber music festival as well as the Hudson Music Festival.
2011 - Performed and recorded with Arraymusic Ensemble at the Music Gallery, Toronto.
2010 – Premiered new works for Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, by Gordon Monahan, Erik Ross, Allison Cameron and Daniel Janke.
2009 – 2012 - In addition to Blair’s work in the fields of contemporary music and jazz, for three and a half years he toured with the Rock/pop group, April Wine.
- Celebrated the 25th anniversary of Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, with 3 concerts in Toronto and Guelph Ontario featuring works specially written for ECCG by founder Jon Siddall, master percussionist Trichy Sankaran, Lou Harrison, Bill Parsons and Gordon Monahan - Performed and recorded with Barry Romberg’s Random Access. Contemporary Jazz.
2008 - Performed world premieres of 4 new works for string quartet and gamelan at the Scotiafest in Nova Scotia as well as at the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival in Ottawa.
– Started work on the production of the Sound of Music at the Princess of Wales Theatre - Started work on Evergreen Clubs 8th independent CD in collaboration with Sanctuary, from Halifax.
2007 - to present - Started the Hudson Music Festival (now in its’ 11th edition). This festival features music ranging from roots and folk through jazz, world and classical, with a strong emphasis on community development.
- Recorded the Legacy CD with ARRAYMUSIC ensemble.
- Received a study grant from Canada Council for the Arts to study Sundanese music in Bandung, Indonesia.
2006 – (September- October) Performance of the musical, The Wrong Son, by Allan Cole, with ARRAY MUSIC at the National Arts Centre.
- Solo perfomance of “Waiting for God” by Alain Thibault for drumset and tape. Produced by SMCQ
- Performed in the Queen of Puddings production of The Midnight Court, by Ana Sokolovic June 2006 at the , Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London, England.
2005 – Toured Canada and recorded with Random Access (free jazz). Performers were Kevin Turcotte, Hugh Marsh, Kelly Mcpherson, Jeff Young, Rich Brown and Barry Romberg
- (February) Paris, Radio France with SMCQ and Evergreen Club. (March)
- At the Montreal New Music Festival (March). Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan performance and recording with SMCQ; collaboration concert with Ensemble Contemporaine de Montreal, new works for gamelan 10 winds and double bass.
- performed in the critically acclaimed premiere of The Midnight Court, contemporary opera at the Enwave Centre, Toronto.
2003 - 2004 Recorded the works of Ana Sokolovic with Ensemble Contemporaine de Montreal, for CBC records.
2000 – 2002 Performed with the Autumn Leaf Production of Kopernicus, by Claude Vivier, performing at the Musica Festival in Strasbourg, France, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in Huddersfield, England, Montreal and Toronto and The Banff Centre for the Arts.
2000 (February) Residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Music and Sound department. Presented concerts and workshops and recorded CD with Evergreen Club.
1999 and 2005 (February) Paris, France, Festival Presences, Radio France. Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan with SMCQ and musicians from Radio France.
1999 - present Array Music: 20th century chamber music. Performing and recording contemporary chamber music.
1998 - present Pirate Jenny: cabaret, jazz trio. Recording CD’s and touring nationally.
1998 - 2000 Deconstructing Tiina: jazz trio. Drums, percussion, guitar, accordion.
1998 - 2000 Heartbeat Ensemble: 23 piece World Percussion Ensemble, performing in Portugal, Germany, United States and Canada. Lead by percussionist John Wyre.
1994 - 1999 - Hemispheres: new compositions for improvising big band.
1994 - 1996 Ritual Party: world music of saxophonist Ron Allen
1993 - 1999 Toured and recorded with Dangerous Kitchen (A.C.R.E.Q.): music of Frank Zappa.
2013 - present - free lance jazz and contemporary music in Toronto and Montreal.
2007 – present – Artistic Director and co-founder of the Hudson Music Festival
1992 - present Artistic Director, Evergreen Club - contemporary gamelan (see resume)
1989 - present Musical Theatre: Les Miserables, Blood Brothers, Miss Saigon, Beauty and the Beast, Show Boat, Mama Mia, Nicholas Nickolby, Sound of Music, Anything Goes: as principal drummer/percussionist.
1986 – present Esprit Orchestra: contemporary music for orchestra. Principal percussionist from 1996 - 2010 (see bio).
1986 – present Misc. Television commercials, dramatic series, independent artists (music and film)
1985 - present Mosaic, septet; music of Blair Mackay and Bill Parsons -----------------------------------------
1985 – present Classical and Popular Music: extra with Canadian Opera Company, Toronto Symphony, misc. orchestras and special events.
1985 - present Contemporary Chamber Music: with New Music Concerts, Nexus, Soundstreams and many others.
1986 – 1990 Played with The Proof, a 10 piece ensemble playing the music of Tower of Power, with ex Tower of Power trumpeter Rick Waychescko.
1980 - 1983 Biko: arrangements of original compositions for 4-piece ensemble 1976 - 1979 Freelance: drum set and percussion, Montreal: jazz. latin-jazz, popular music.