Mack McCray, born in California in 1943, studied at the Juilliard School in New York with Irwin Freundlich from 1963 to 1971. In the single season of 1969-1970, McCray won first prizes in the San Francisco Symphony's International Young Artists Competition and the Charleston Symphony Competition; Silver Medal at the International Enesco Competition in Bucharest, plus a special award for best performance of a contemporary Rumanian work; second prize at the International Liszt Competition in Boston; an Italian government citation for his performance at the Giornate Musicale festival in Todi, Italy; grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation and the Insitute for International Education: and Juilliard's Edward Steuermann Memorial Prize. During that same season McCray made his first tour of Europe, including London, Vienna, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Brussels and Zurich, among other cities.

Since that year, Mack McCray has performed around the world, notably at the Paris Festivale d'automne, at Seville's Great Interpreters Series with the Monte Carlo Orchestra at the UNESCO Festival of International Artists in Monaco, at Hong Kong's City Hall Concert Series, at the Bucharest Philharmonic Bach-Beethoven-Brahms Festival; and Boston's Fromm Foundation Concerts at Harvard. In 1972 McCray founded an international chamber music festival in Trogen, Switzerland and for many years was concert accompanist for the Metropolitan Opera soprano Teresa Stratas. His recording of John Adams' piano work Phrygian Gates (New Albion Records) was placed on the Best Recordings of the Year (1981) lists of both the New York Times and High-Fidelity-Musical America.

McCray has performed with such conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, Edo de Waart, Josef Krips, Leon Fleisher, Arthur Fiedler and John Adams. He has been an invited soloist at the American Liszt Society Conference in Eugene, Oregon, the New Orleans International Piano Festival, the Atlanta Festival of the Arts and the Honolulu Academy of Art's Sounds of Our Time Festival. In 1991 he gave the American premiere of John Adams' new work for piano and orchestra, Eros Piano at the Cabrillo Music Festival. Recently McCray performed with the Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo, on the all-Schubert series at famed Trinity Church in Manhattan, at the Carmel Bach Festival, and at the Los Angeles County Art Museum, as well as in Alaska and across the United States. He currently is Artistic Director of the Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival in Courmayeur, Italy. Since 1971 he has been on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.