The Scottish tenor, Neil Mackie, graduated from Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama before winning several scholarships for postgraduate training Royal College of Music 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 his professional debut in London when he sang as a soloist with the English Chamber Orchestra under Raymond Leppard, Neil Mackie pursued an international career as a soloist for almost 30 years, appearing regularly at all the major British & European Festivals, including the Flanders and Savonlinna Festivals, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, in Rome for the RAI, at the Lincoln Centre in New York, with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe etc, under such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Paavo Berglund, Riccardo Chailly, Sir Colin Davis, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Neeme Järvi, Sir Neville Marriner, Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Simon Rattle, Gennadi Rozhdestnevsky, Esa-Pekka Salonen & Sir Georg Solti.
In 1988-1989 he toured America with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has also 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.He toured Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium La Petite Bande conducted by Sigiswald Kuijken.
Neil Mackie 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 (1977) and Sandy in The Lighthouse (1980), performing both works throughout the world with the composer and his celebrated group, the Fires of London. In 1983 he premiered Into The Labyrinth, cantata for tenor and chamber orchestra, and in 1988 performed the work at the Carnegie Hall in New York, at the Ojai Festival (June 1988) and all other major USA venues. In 1998 he premièred and recorded The Jacobite Rising with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Peter Maxwell Davies' direction. He has a large number of first performances to his credit, including works by Benjamin Britten (songs), Elliot Carter (In Sleep, in Thunder), Hans Werner Henze (Three Auden Songs, Adelburgh Festival, 1984), Judith Weir and Kenneth Leighton as well as many other British composers.
Neil Mackie has had UK engagemenrts with the Hallé Orchestra, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the London Sinfonietta under Simon Rattle. Recent engagements have included J.S. Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248) under Peter Schreier at the Vienna Musikverein, the St John Passion (BWV 245) (Evangelist) in Norway under Frans Brüggen and in Italy under Wolfgang Sawallisch (also televised), George Frideric 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 B. Britten’s music, Neil Mackie 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 B. Britten’s Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk. In the Baroque repertoire he is a celebrated Evangelist in the J.S. Bach & Heinrich Schütz Passions and has performed on many occasions the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with Sir David Willcocks, with whom he recorded G.F. Handel’s Messiah. On several occasions he sang the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with the King's College Choir Cambridge and The Academy of Ancient Music under Stephen Cleobury’s direction.
Neil Mackie has recorded for all the main recording companies and has an extensive discography to his credit, including a Grammy. He made a series of recordings of Mozart Masses with the King's College Choir Cambridge for Decca, for whom he also recorded Peter Maxwell Davies’ Solstice of Light. With La Petite Bande under Sigiswald Kuijken he recorded Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s Die Schöpfung. His historic recording for EMI of unpublished songs by B. Britten was released to tremendous critical interest; he has since recorded with the legendary hornist, Barry Tuckwell, B. Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings (with premiere of Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal), which was recently hailed by the London Times as a classic.
From 1983 Neil Mackie he taught singing at the Royal College of Music and in 1993 became head of the Department of Vocal Studies there. He left the Royal College of Music at the end of 2008. After many years as Head of Vocal Studies at London’s Benjamin Britten International Opera School, he accepted a Professorship for singing at the Royal Academy of Music. He is also a Professor of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Agder University in Southern Norway. Mackie is Officer of the Venerable Order of Saint John (OSEJ). He was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1996 New Year Honours for his services to music. He now devotes most of his energies to teaching and helping the next generation of musicians.