Multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer, and instrument designer
2020 Speaker • 2021 Speaker

Brooklyn, New York

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, song leader, composer and instrument designer Mark Stewart has been heard around the world performing old and new music. Since 1998 he has recorded, toured and been musical director with Paul Simon. A founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the comic duo Polygraph Lounge with keyboard and theremin wizard Rob Schwimmer, Stewart also has worked with Sting, Bob Dylan, Wynton Marsalis, Meredith Monk, Stevie Wonder, Phillip Glass, Bruce Springsteen, Ornette Coleman, Joan Baez, Hugh Masakela, Paul McCartney, Bill Frisell, Jimmy Cliff, Simon and Garfunkel, the Everly Brothers, Alison Krauss, Bobby McFerrin, David Byrne, James Taylor, The Roches, Aaron Neville, Bette Midler and Marc Ribot. 

He has worked extensively with composer Elliot Goldenthal on music for the films Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Across the Universe and more, often playing instruments of his own design and construction.

He designed instruments for Julie Taymor's Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is the inventor of the WhirlyCopter, a bicycle-powered Pythagorean choir of singing tubes, and the Big Boing, a 24-foot sonic banquet table Mbira that seats 30 children playing 490 found objects. He is the co-founder of SoundstewArt, designing immersive interactive musical instrument environments for museums, community centers and outdoor spaces of all kinds. 

Stewart is a visiting lecturer in musical instrument design and collective improvisation at MIT. He is a curator at MASS MoCA of the immersive Gunnar Schonbeck exhibit of musical instruments. He lives in Brooklyn and the Berkshires, playing and writing popular music, semi-popular music and unpopular music, leading song circles and designing instruments that everyone can play.