Arts administrator Charles I. McKay has spent the past 18 seasons working in the heart of New York City’s cultural community. A native of Durham, North Carolina and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in music, Mr. McKay was a professional singer prior to joining the staff at Carnegie Hall at the time of the famed institution’s legendary centennial celebration in the 1990–1991 season. In January 2001, following 10 years with Carnegie, he joined the staff of the New York Festival of Song where he currently serves as Managing Director.
During his tenure at Carnegie Hall, Mr. McKay developed and directed a series of world-renowned professional training workshops and symposia, working with luminaries such as Isaac Stern, Sir Georg Solti, Pierre Boulez, Marilyn Horne, Alfred Brendel, Christa Ludwig, Daniel Barenboim, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, James Conlon and Sir Neville Marriner. The Robert Shaw Choral Workshop, which ran for nine seasons until Mr. Shaw’s death in January 1999, is nationally recognized as a benchmark educational program and is chronicled in an award-winning series of videotapes. In 1996, Mr. McKay also developed and directed an annual series of professional development workshops designed specifically for New York City area schoolteachers. Scholars and artists invited to participate as faculty included Roberta Peters, Gunther Schuller, Ann Douglas, Justin DiCioccio, Robert Kimball, Dick Hyman, William Rothstein, Suki Schorer, Sheldon Harnick, Carol Oja, Michael Boriskin, Laurence Maslon, and Steve Ross.
Mr. McKay is a specialist in the classical and vocal repertoire. He programmed the Great Singers series at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall for nine years, presenting established and emerging artists including Sylvia McNair, Barbara Bonney, Stanford Olsen, Marietta Simpson, Christoph Prègardien, Susanne Mentzer, Christine Goerke, Michelle DeYoung, Margaret Lattimore, Nathan Gunn and the New York Festival of Song. Many of the artists in this series made their New York City recital debut under its auspices. Mr. McKay is proud of the relationships he has established with professional singers over the years, especially with those at the beginning of their career. He’s extremely thankful that this tradition continues with his work with NYFOS.
Mr. McKay’s programming experience was not limited to the classical side of vocal music while at Carnegie Hall. During the early 1990s, he oversaw Carnegie’s acclaimed “Carnegie Cabaret” series as well as its folk music series, and from 1991 to 1996 he served as advisor for chamber music programming, all in Weill Recital Hall.
A contributor to industry publications such as Opera America’s “Perspective” series (a publication designed to advise and assist professional singers), Mr. McKay is also regularly invited to judge regional and district auditions for the Metropolitan Opera National Council.