As a youth, he played the French horn, and played in the orchestra of Santa Fe Opera (SFO) at age 17. He was a volunteer with Santa Fe Opera at age 15, and began to work in administrative capacities with SFO at age 18.Miller, Sarah Bryan, "Opera Theatre’s Charles MacKay will take the helm at Santa Fe Opera". St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9 November 2007.
Involvement with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
After leaving Santa Fe, his other administrative positions include a 6-year tenure as director of finance and administration for the Spoleto Festival USA, from 1978 to 1984. For 5 years, he was the manager for the American artists at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.