Tom Mackey

Principal Percussionist

Dr. Douglas and Patricia Sedlacek Chair

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Maryland and Illinois, Tom Mackey earned a B.M. from Illinois Wesleyan University and a M.M. from the New England Conservatory of Music where he studied with Frank Epstein of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. While in graduate school, Tom performed with the Boston Philharmonic and spent summers at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, where he studied with Tom Stubbs of the St. Louis Symphony. Additionally, Tom studied drum set with Skip Hadden of the famed jazz fusion group Weather Report. Fresh out of school, Tom was a drummer for Carnival Cruise Lines based in Miami, FL. In addition to his current duties as Principal Percussionist with Orchestra Iowa and Percussionist with the Des Moines Symphony, Tom has performed with many orchestras such as the Quad City and Omaha Symphonies. Soloists he has appeared with include Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell as well as groups such as the Moody Blues and the Joffrey Ballet. Tom also maintains a private teaching studio of 30 students in Cedar Rapids where he lives with his wife, Miriam, and two daughters, Lydia and Helen.


Cedar Rapids, IA

Education & Teachers:

BM in Music Performance, Illinois Wesleyan University,1988
MM in Percussion Performance, New England Conservatory of Music, 1991

Frank Epstein (retired – Boston Symphony Orchestra) and Robert Bankert (retired – Peoria Symphony).

Favorite Symphonic Piece

Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony No. 2.

Favorite Memory With Orchestra Iowa:

Being a featured soloist with Alan Lawrence and Michael Geary on live Iowa Public Television performing Russell Peck’s “The Glory and the Grandeur” in 1997.

How did you start playing your instrument?

Toy drums, pots and pans! But officially started playing percussion in the school band in 5th grade at Foxhill Elementary in Bowie, Maryland.

Who are your musical inspirations?

Initially my mom, who was an elementary school music teacher, encouraged my musical interests. In drumming, my early inspirations were Ringo Starr (The Beatles), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Stewart Copeland (The Police) and Buddy Rich. Orchestral inspirations are my former teachers, Frank Epstein, Tom Stubbs and James Ross.

If you weren’t a professional musician, what career would you have?

Probably something in the golf industry. I love golf!

List three things always found in your refrigerator:

Milk, Swiss cheese and kale.