I compose works ranging from vocal and orchestral to jazz and music for non-western instruments, often integrating a variety of historical and ethnic stylistic influences. My compositions have been performed throughout the United States, in Europe and Asia, and are recorded on INNOVA, Naxos, DAPHENO, and Latvian Radio. Macy’s Composition teachers have included William Bergsma, Robert Suderberg, and Donal Michalsky.
I am a Professor Emeritus of Music at Macalester College where I began teaching in 1978. In addition to teaching theory and composition courses I directed the MacJazz big band, the Macalester Collegium Musicum, and the Mac New Music Ensemble which specialized in improvised music. I have an active interest in Non-Western music, having served as Artistic Director, conductor and sheng performer with the Minnesota Chinese Music Ensemble. I am presently an active composer living in Pacific Grove, California where I am also an active performer on French horn, alto recorder, and bass drum.
My life as a “mostly” concert music composer has followed a number of paths that, to date, have been anchored by my parallel life as a professor of music at Macalester College. My Composing life has followed a number of traditional paths, almost always by way of works for live performance with the occasional inclusion of electronic amplification and modification of live sound. As a student in the early 70s I worked hard to rationalize and tame serial systems (Concert Duo and Maria Music). During the 1980s my compositional interests moved toward explorations of minimalist textures (INTENSITY for amplified flute quartet, and Spiral), the use of historical musical sources and inspirations (Douce Dame and My Tears), ethnic musics (Deep Water), and the incorporation of jazz and popular idioms into concert music (Connections, HEAT, and Song and Dance). I simultaneously began to use more tonal resources in my composing technique. Recently, I find myself working with modified modal systems (Quietude), and with closed, often symmetrical harmonic systems (Intensity, and Duality).
The collective influences, compositional techniques, and choices I employ in my work are continually guided by the performers and audiences I target. For the Des Moines Junior High honors string orchestra I wrote Amber Waves, a very modal, melodic, non-dissonant piece, but for the Artrazann Trio at the University of Georgia I wrote my first “Prairie Trio,” the Artrazann Trio, using angular melodies, complex counterpoint, and a good amount of dissonance.
I am always interested in collaborating with performers on new compositions, and consider a “quality performance” of a new piece to be remuneration enough for my part of the creative process.