Known for his distinctive style and thoughtful musicianship, timpanist/percussionist Craig McNutt has become a vital performer in the realm of percussion performance. His performance have taken him to several of the world’s great concert halls, including Boston’s Symphony Hall and Jordan Hall, New York’s Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall, and Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and the Oper Frankfurt. In advancing the visibility of classical music, he has also performed at several non-traditional venues such as France’s Eiffel Tower, the twenty five hundred year old Delphi Theater in Greece, New York’s World Financial Center, and Boston’s Fenway Park.
Praised by critics for his “colorful percussion sounds” (Boston Globe) and “crisp mallet work” (Providence Journal), Craig McNutt has been featured as a soloist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic (Russell Peck’s Harmonic Rhythm) and Collage New Music (Steven Mackey’s Micro-Concerto). He has collaborated with some of the most celebrated composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Elliott Carter, Lukas Foss, John Cage, Bernard Rands, Gunther Schuller, George Rochberg, Charles Fussell, John Harbison, Michael Gandolfi, and Lee Hyla, and performed under the direction of many noted conductors, including James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle, Roger Norrington, Christoph von Dohnányi, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Robert Spano, Oliver Knussen, Reinbert de Leeuw, and John Williams.
As a performer, McNutt has worked with virtually all of Boston’s major musical groups, including the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops, Boston Ballet, Boston Lyric Opera, Cantata Singers, A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra, and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra. He is Principal Timpanist of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and performs regularly as Principal Timpanist with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Emmanuel Music, and Opera Boston. In the contemporary music genre, Craig is a featured percussionist for Collage New Music and ALEA III, and has performed with Boston Musica Viva and Dinosaur Annex. Equally at home in the field of historical performance, he regularly performs on Baroque timpani with the period instrument groups Boston Baroque, Handel and Haydn Society, and Boston Cecilia.
McNutt can be heard on over forty commercially released recordings, many of them on the ground-breaking and critically acclaimed BMOP/sound label. Two of these recordings – Charles Fussell’s Wilde and Derek Bermel’s Voices – were nominated for a Grammy award by the Recording Industry Association of America. His discography features many other celebrated record labels, including Telarc, Bridge, ECM New Series, Koch Classics, Chandos, Albany, and Naxos.
McNutt has participated in several important performances at music festivals dedicated to the advancement of modern music, such as the Ditson Festival of Contemporary Music, the MATA Festival, the Composer Portraits Series at Miller Theatre, Pittsburgh’s New Music on the Edge, and California State University’s Festival of New American Music. In 2000, McNutt was invited to return to the Festival of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music Center for a performance of Pierre Boulez’s Sur Incises, a performance hailed by The Boston Globe as “simply beyond praise.”
A Massachusetts native, McNutt holds degrees from the Hartt School of Music and Yale University, and has completed additional studies at New England Conservatory. He is a two-time alumnus of the Tanglewood Music Center, and has also spent summers studying at the Aspen Music Festival, and as a fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. Currently McNutt teaches at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, The Music School of The Rhode Island Philharmonic, and Wellesley College. He has also served on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music.
A strong advocate for his instrument, McNutt has immersed himself in many other aspects of percussion, including stick wrapping, timpani maintenance, and tucking calf skin drumheads, and has mentored many on these subjects. Having sewn his own timpani mallets for over 15 years, McNutt has in turn presented masterclasses on timpani mallet wrapping at The Boston Conservatory and at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School.