William Thomas McKinley is one of the most highly regarded and well-known composers of his generation, and has been likened to "Ives on steroids" and "Stravinsky gone mad." He learned both classical and jazz piano at a very early age, becoming the youngest member of the American Federation of Musicians at just twelve years old. To date, he has composed over 350 works, is listed in the Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and has received commissions from the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, the Fromm Music Foundation, and The Walter W. Naumburg Foundation. His many awards and grants include, among others, an award and citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Koussevitzky International Recording Award, and eight grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. McKinley has studied with many renowned teachers and composers, including Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss, and Gunther Schuller, and as a jazz pianist has performed, composed, and recorded with Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Eddie Gomez, Gary Burton, Miroslav Vitous, Rufus Reed, Roy Haynes, and Billy Hart, to name a few.
In 1992, McKinley founded MMC Recordings with the goal of connecting composers with the finest orchestras, conductors, and performers in the world, releasing their recordings, and creating an archive of modern classical music. The label's primary collaborators include luminaries such as clarinetist Richard Stoltzman (a longtime friend and supporter of McKinley and his music), conductors Gerard Schwarz, Marin Alsop, Carl St. Claire, George Manahan, Kirk Trevor, Gil Rose, as well as the London Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and many more.
In recent years, McKinley has become even more prolific, and his works are featured on releases from Koch Records, Delos Music, and RCA Red Seal, in addition to those on MMC. 2006 saw the premiere of R.A.P., a double concerto for Richard Stoltzman (clarinet) and his son Peter (piano), with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and Nonet for the Quintet of the Americas at Carnegie Hall. In 2007, selections from McKinley's Piano Etudes were premiered at the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, and in 2009, Gil Rose conducted BMOP in the world premiere of Recollections.