Steven Mackey is noted for his highly individual idiom. Trained as an electric guitarist and a Baroque lutenist, his music incorporates and transforms references to classical and popular music in a way that is "lithe, subtle, and more than a little playful" (Tim Page, Newsday). He has a strong concern for the role of the performer in his music - for example in Deal, his concerto for electric guitar and ensemble/orchestra, the requirement of the soloist to improvise in indicated ways against the compelling background score of the ensemble creates quite a thrilling drama. Equally, Mackey is interested in controlling the listening experience as well, by using certain techniques (including visual ones!) to encourage the listener to adopt certain listening stances. He attempts, therefore, a deeper perspective on the relations between how music is heard and what it is trying to say.
Works by Mackey include: Physical Property (1992) for electric guitar and string quartet Eating Greens (1993) for orchestra Gaggle and Flock (2001) for string octet
"I imagine...a kind of vernacular music from a culture that doesn't really exist." — Steven Mackey