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MA Top 30 Professional of the Year: Evan Mack
By Susan Brodie
December 4, 2018
Considered one of the most gifted composers of his generation by industry insiders, Evan Mack’s first major opera, for which he wrote both libretto and music, was Angel of the Amazon. It was based on a true story about an American missionary working with natives in the rainforest of Brazil, who was assassinated because her work threatened a logging company’s profits. The work was premiered by Encompass New Opera Theater at New York’s Baryshnikov Center in May 2011; a subsequent recording on Albany Records received high praise from Opera News—not bad for a first outing.
Subsequently Mack teamed up with librettist Joshua McGuire, a friend since undergraduate days. This fruitful partnership yielded The Secret of Luca, premiered in 2013 at Fresno State Opera Theater; and Roscoe, a grand opera based on William Kennedy’s novel (2014). It premiered at the Seagle Music Colony to rave reviews and later received a concert performance with the Albany Symphony starring Deborah Voigt in 2016. Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena, a multi-cultural Christmas opera for children, was commissioned by San Francisco Opera, Opera in the Heights, and Fresno State Opera, and is becoming an annual holiday tradition in San Francisco. Mack describes the Fresno premiere: “There were 300 children, most of whom had never been in the theater, laughing, crying and shouting at the opera…It was so emotional and thrilling to see these children who had never experienced this genre responding to something they’d never seen before so enthusiastically.”
Mack and McGuire have also written one of the first-ever operas for Twitter, #IsOperaDead, an opera in five acts lasting one minute and 40 seconds. Other premieres include Glimmerglass Festival and the Fort Worth Opera Festival.
Composer, pianist, producer, fundraiser, and administrator, Mack is the very essence of what it means to be a working musician in the 21st century. With a DMA from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, he is on the faculty of Skidmore College. He was a composing fellow at the John Duffy Composers Institute and a resident artist at Yaddo. Mack leads a quiet life with his family in the gateway to the Adirondacks, leaving the drama for the music he writes.
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