A composer, mandolinist, and clarinetist, Jeff Midkiff is a musician who feels comfortable in more than one musical setting. Jeff grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, where bluegrass music thrived. Given his first mandolin at the age of 7, he moved quickly into the world of fiddlers’ conventions and contests. Midkiff earned a degree in music education from Virginia Tech. While studying classical repertoire, he continued to gain attention as a mandolin and fiddle player. In 1983 he joined the Lonesome River Band, which would eventually become one of bluegrass’s most acclaimed groups. After performing, touring, and recording two albums, he left the band to earn a Master of Music degree in Clarinet Performance from Northern Illinois University. Jeff has spent the last thirty years balancing both musical loves. He has played clarinet in numerous orchestras and has also performed mandolin with the Milwaukee Symphony. His solo CD, Partners In Time, has gained international acclaim. He is an orchestra director in the Roanoke City Schools and received the 2017 Yale Distinguished Music Educator award.
Midkiff’s Mandolin Concerto, “From the Blue Ridge,” was composed and premiered in 2011 for the Roanoke Symphony and their Music Director David Stewart Wiley. The piece has been performed by the Rochester Philharmonic, Jacksonville Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic, Knoxville Symphony, Lancaster Symphony, Champaign-Urbana Symphony, Shreveport Symphony, Williamsburg Symphony, Bryan Symphony, Northwest Florida Symphony, Symphony of Southeast Texas, Ohio Northern Symphony, Cal Poly Symphony, Carmel Symphony, Signature Symphony at TCC, Oak Ridge Symphony, Bryan Symphony, Lancaster Symphony, and the Yale Concert Band just to name a few.
The Concerto gained national recognition when it was performed at the Kennedy Center with the Boulder Philharmonic as part of the 2017 SHIFT Festival. The performance received enthusiastic praise. Alex Ross, writing for the New Yorker, described the performance as “… lit up by improvisatory bursts of bluegrass and mountain fiddling. [Midkiff's] mellow virtuosity elicited youthful yelps from the upper galleries of the hall.” Philip Kennicott, of the Washington Post, wrote: "The most exciting moments came during Jeff Midkiff's Mandolin Concerto, especially the last movement... The playing was virtuosic and exuberant."
Jeff’s unique collaboration with the Carpe Diem String Quartet resulted in the new CD, “Jeff Midkiff: Music for Mandolin and String Quartet.” The CD won the Global Music Awards Gold Medal. The First Quintet (2015) is an arrangement of the Mandolin Concerto, “From the Blue Ridge.” The Second Quintet was premiered in 2017. The ensemble performed the work at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York in 2019.