Dr. Neil McKay, professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa from 1965 until his retirement in 1987, has died at the age of 92. He passed on Thursday, December 8, 2016.
McKay began his musical career as a jazz arranger-performer in 1940 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in composition at the renowned Eastman School of Music. His catalogue of compositions span styles, decade, and genre. His earliest works include Festival Concertino, his Symphony No. 1, a string quartet, and an opera called Ring Around Harlequin. Coinciding with his relocation to Hawai‘i, his music after the mid-1960s came under the influence of musical traditions from Asia, Africa, and Polynesia. His later works, written after retirement from UH Mānoa, captured the experiences of his busy career and included an emphasis on works for ensembles in Hawai‘i, most notably the Hawai‘i Youth Symphony led by now-retired UH Mānoa professor Henry Miyamura.
In 1997 the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts awarded Dr. McKay an Individual Artist Fellowship “in recognition of artistic excellence, significant accomplishments in Music Composition, and commitment to the Arts in the State of Hawai‘i.”
To learn more about Dr. McKay’s contributions at UH Mānoa and beyond, read his biography here.