A "fresh, inventive, urbane, and keen-witted young composer" (Boston Globe) and "a splendid pianist" "with a born pianist's command of colors, textures, dynamics" (Boston Globe), John McDonald has earned international acclaim as a musician. His compositions have been performed on four continents, and his work is frequently featured in the U.S.A. by such ensembles as A Far Cry, Alea III, Arden Quartet, Boston Composers String Quartet, DaVinci Quartet, Hartt Contemporary Players, Kalistos Chamber Orchestra, Marimolin, Brave New Works, and by pianists Veronica Jochum and Andrew Rangell. McDonald has served as Cultural Specialist in Mongolia, where he premiered his "Music for Piano and String Orchestra" and worked with students on his pedagogical works.

In his performing capacity, recent honors include a Duo Recitalists' Grant from the NEA, an Artistic Ambassadorship to Asia, and an Artists' Residency at M.I.T. with soprano Karol Bennett (1995, 1993, 1990-91), as well as invitations to perform his works at conferences in Amsterdam, Budapest, Havana, Montreal, Shanghai, and St. Petersburg. McDonald’s 2001 solo piano recital of “Common Injustices” by twenty-five living composers prompted Richard Dyer of The Boston Globe to write “one can hardly imagine anyone else undertaking such a program, or playing it with such modest and unobtrusive but total musical and pianistic mastery.”
 
A graduate of Yale School of Music, McDonald is currently Professor of Music at Tufts University and Music Department Chair, a post he also filled from 2000 to 2003. He serves on the advisory boards of American Composers Forum New England, Worldwide Concurrent Premieres, Inc., and several other cultural and academic organizations. His recent accomplishments have included Composer Residencies with the METYSO Youth Orchestra, the Southern Illinois University Music Department, Duke University, and Ithaca College, commissions from American Composers Forum, the Harvard Musical Association, Brave New Works, the Fleet Boston Celebrity Series, The Master Singers of Greater Boston, the Rivers Music School, the piano trio Triple Helix, Worldwide Concurrent Premieres, A Far Cry, and First Prize in the Leo M. Traynor Composition Competition for music for viol consort.

He received the 2009 Lillian and Joseph Leibner Award for Distinguished Teaching and Advising from Tufts University, and was named the 2007 MTNA-Shepherd Distinguished Composer of the Year by the Music Teachers National Association.

McDonald’s recordings appear on the Albany, Archetype, Boston, Bridge, Neuma, New Ariel, and New World labels.

 

 

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