Neil Mackie

Neil Mackie

Royal Academy OperaVocal



Neil Mackie studied initially in his native Scotland before winning several scholarships for postgraduate training in London. He was subsequently awarded a substantial Gulbenkian Fellowship which enabled him to continue his studies with Ernst Haefliger in Munich and with legendary English tenor Sir Peter Pears.

After making his London début with the English Chamber Orchestra under Raymond Leppard, Neil pursued an international career as a soloist for almost 30 years, appearing regularly at all the major British & European Festivals, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, in Rome for the RAI, at the Lincoln Centre in New York, with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe etc under such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Paavo Berglund, Riccardo Chailly, Sir Colin Davis, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Neeme Jarvi, Sir Neville Marriner, Lord Menuhin, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Simon Rattle, Gennadi Rozhdestnevsky, Esa-Pekka Salonen & Sir Georg Solti.

He has toured America with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, toured Mexico, Sweden, Hong Kong & The Island of Macao, the Ukraine and The Azores for the British Council and travelled to Moscow to perform ‘Les Illuminations’ with the Moscow Virtuosi with whom he has also appeared at the Colmar Festival in France and on tour in Spain.

Neil has a close association with the music of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. He has recorded ‘Into The Labyrinth’ (written for him and voted the best contemporary recording of 1985) and created both the title role in ‘The Martyrdom of St Magnus’ and Sandy in ‘The Lighthouse’, performing both works throughout the world with the composer and his celebrated group, the Fires of London. In 1988 he performed ‘Into The Labyrinth’ at the Carnegie Hall in New York and all other major USA venues. In 1998 he premièred and recorded ‘The Jacobite Rising’ with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Maxwell Davies' direction.

He has a large number of first performances to his credit, including works by Benjamin Britten, Hans Werner Henze, Judith Weir & Kenneth Leighton as well as many other British composers. His historic recording for EMI of unpublished songs by Britten was released to tremendous critical interest; he has since recorded with the legendary hornist, Barry Tuckwell, Britten’s ‘Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings’ which was recently hailed by the London Times as a classic. He made a series of recordings of Mozart Masses with the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge for Decca, for whom he also recorded Maxwell Davies’ ‘Solstice of Light’. With La Petite Bande under Kuijken he recorded Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ and Haydn’s ‘Die Schöpfung’.

Recent engagements have included Bach’s ‘Weihnachts-Oratorium’ under Peter Schreier at the Vienna Musikverein, the ‘St John Passion’ (Evangelist) in Norway under Brüggen and in Italy under Sawallisch (also televised), Handel’s ‘L’Allegro ed il Penseroso’ with the English Chamber Orchestra under the late Sir Charles Mackerras, Tippett’s ‘A Child of Our Time' and 'L’Enfance du Christ’ with Frühbeck de Burgos in Madrid.

As a champion of Benjamin Britten’s music, Neil has sung ‘War Requiem’ in Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and the USA as well as ‘Serenade’, ‘Nocturne’ and ‘Les Illuminations’ worldwide, including performances under Sir Peter Pears at Britten’s Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk. In the baroque repertory he is a celebrated Evangelist in the Bach & Schutz Passions and has performed on many occasions the ‘St Matthew Passion’ with Sir David Willcocks, with whom he recorded Handel’s ‘Messiah’. On several occasions he sang the ‘St Matthew Passion’ with the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge and The Academy of Ancient Music under Stephen Cleobury’s direction.

Neil has recorded for all the main recording companies and has an extensive discography to his credit, including a Grammy. For his services to music, Neil Mackie was appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1996 New Year Honours List. He now devotes most of his energies to teaching and helping the next generation of musicians.

After many years as Head of Vocal Studies at London’s Benjamin Britten International Opera School, he accepted a Professorship at the Royal Academy of Music. He is also a Professor of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Agder University in Southern Norway.