Richard McKay knows his boyish face makes a statement. When we met for coffee last week, he still seemed a little shell-shocked by his very recent 30th birthday. But if he seems hyper-aware of his age, it's probably because the artistic director and conductor of the newly formed Dallas Chamber Symphony is tired of hearing about how old he is. "I don't think there was a critic who failed to mention my age or my youth," he told me matter-of-factly in reference to the symphony's debut concert two weeks ago at City Performance Hall. "That's fair," he went on, "it's an accurate observation."
He also knows that in the world in which he is making his career - the world of Capital-C-Classical Music - youth can be a "barrier." He quoted a recent conversation with a colleague discussing the issue: "There are a lot of people who won't let you grow up. You're sort of relegated to the sidelines. It doesn't matter how good you are, it's just, you're still too young."
Which is exactly why McKay is taking matters into his own hands. The Dallas Chamber Symphony is his brainchild and a product of much personal effort on his part. It's also his way out of the box and an opportunity to do what he loves in the way that he wants to do it. "The great thing about being an entrepreneur in music or in any business is that when you go out on your own and you do your own thing - age, gender - all of those things fall away," he explains.