- William Thomas McKinley (b. 1938)
- Boston Modern Orchestra Project
- Gil Rose, conductor
The composer and New Kensington native William Thomas ("Tom") McKinley died on Feb. 3 at the age of 76. Born on Dec. 9, 1938, Mr. McKinley is best known for concert music composed in the jazz idiom but had forays into neo-classicism, atonality and electronic music. He attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1956, where he met his longtime friend and colleague David Stock, a local composer and the founder of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, who describes him as "one of our most important Pittsburgh artists of any kind."
William Thomas McKinley (b. 1938) studied with Foss, Copland, and Schuller, and has performed as a jazz pianist with Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Eddie Gomez, and others. These three pieces owe a lot, in McKinley’s own words, to his love for Stravinsky, Ives, and Varese.
BMOP/sound, the nation's premiere label launched by an orchestra and dedicated exclusively to new music recordings, today announced its May 2010 release, William Thomas McKinley: R.A.P. With more than 350 works to his name and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the National Endowment for the Arts, McKinley has established himself as one of the most highly regarded and prolific composers of his generation.
R.A.P., the title work of Thomas McKinley’s newest CD, is a hugely entertaining romp for clarinet and orchestra, jazz orchestra actually, which combines the exciting improvisatory abandon of jazz with the motivic concentration and rhythmic sophistication of classical composition. Although I haven’t listened to progressive big bands in a while, I remember hearing music that veered off in similar non-traditional, rhythmic directions while still retaining a tenuous link to what we think of as jazz.
William Thomas McKinley (Tom to his friends and family) is a protean personality, a composer of more than 300 works of great diversity, who embraces the classical and jazz worlds with equal proficiency and gusto. His is a restless, exploratory mind that ceaselessly seeks to expand the boundaries of musical form and substance without abandoning the essential building blocks of melody, rhythm, and harmony.