Composer Steven Mackey, whose RIOT was recently given its world premiere by the New Jersey Symphony, led by Music Director Xian Zhang.

“New Jersey Symphony Orchestra fused Mozart, Bruckner and the 21st century in a series of concerts this past weekend, including the premiere of a new work by Princeton University composer Steven Mackey,” writes Nancy Plum in Wednesday’s (4/26) Town Topics (Princeton, NJ). “Led by Music Director Xian Zhang, the Orchestra combined Mackey’s large-scale symphonic work with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s spirited Symphony No. 25 and Anton Bruckner’s devout Te Deum. Joining the Orchestra in Friday night’s performance at Richardson Auditorium were … exceptional vocal soloists and the Princeton University Glee Club…. Composer Steven Mackey’s music is well-known for its innovation, improvisation and roots in his own obsession with blues and rock, and the choral/orchestral RIOT was no exception. Commissioned by NJSO for the organization’s centenary, this work brought close to 200 people onstage among orchestra, chorus and mezzo-soprano soloist … Mackey collaborated with U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, who created a text placing ‘race and resilience in the foreground’… Mackey’s musical imagination used all of the Orchestra, adding his own contemporary rock color on electric guitar…. Despite the dark and personal nature of the text, Mackey’s work ended on a joyful note, with the affirming text ‘we live.’ ”