Like many American teenagers of the late 20th century, Hickey picked up an electric guitar as his first instrument, listening to rock and pop, but he was also exposed to Stravinsky
in high school. He took the guitar to college, studying jazz at Oakland University, then composition and theory at Wayne State. James Hartway, James Lentini, and Leslie Bassett were among his teachers in Michigan, but he also went on to study with Justin Dello Joio and Gloria Coates
in New York.
Hickey has written many chamber music works, keyboard and choral music, and a few large-scale orchestral works. He has written specifically for such artists as violinists Ilya Gringolts
and Julia Sakharova, clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, pianist Xiayin Wang
, and the Ars Futura ensemble. His concertos include ones written for clarinetist David Gould, cellist Dmitry Kouzov, and mandolinist Avi Avital
. Max Lifchitz and Marin Alsop
have premiered his orchestral works. Along the way Hickey has won many awards and grants for his compositions and been invited to numerous festivals. For the New York Chamber Music Festival of 2011, he prepared The Birds of Barclay Street as a memorial of September 11, 2001.
In 2005, Naxos
released a recording of Hickey's chamber and orchestral music after label founder Klaus Heymann took a genuine interest in Hickey's music, not because he worked for the label. Delos
also recorded his clarinet and cello concertos, released in 2013, and a few of his keyboard and chamber works on a 2014 release entitled Cursive. In addition to his composing and his sales and marketing for Naxos
, Hickey also lectures on new media and entrepreneurship for composers and musicians.