Robert McCarthy is a Bachelor of Music in music education, a student and oboist in the Arizona State University School of Music. In February 2011, McCarthy was awarded the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Band Directors Association Grant for Young and Emerging Wind Band Composers. The grant was created in 2005 to provide assistance to rising young composition students interested in composing for ensembles of wind and percussion instruments.
The award is unique in that it seeks to recognize new and emerging talent and does not require a finished product for consideration. In addition to a cash prize, McCarthy's completed project will receive up to 12 performances across the Atlantic Coast Conference and support in consideration of publication.