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 (b. 1959) has earned international acclaim as a musician. His compositions have been performed on four continents, and his work is frequently featured in the United States by such ensembles as Alea III, Arden Quartet, Boston Composers String Quartet, Hartt Contemporary Players, Marimolin, Rivers Trio, and Dui 101. Recently, McDonald served as Cultural Specialist in Mongolia, where he premiered his “Music for Piano and String Orchestra” and worked with students on his pedagogical works.
A Mellon Fellowship to compose a songbook for the vocal/instrumental ensemble Passage enabled McDonald to live and work in Switzerland during the latter part of 1996. Recent commissions include a work for the Vienna Saxophone Quartet, a piece for multiple pianos for the Boston Musica Viva, a vocal work for the Harvard Musical Association, a Trio for Baroque Flutes for the Wellesley College Music Department, and “Three Ways to Make a Living,” for clarinet, violin, and piano, commissioned by American Composers Forum for the Rivers Trio; recent premieres include piccolo works at the 1996 National Flute Conference in New York City, orchestral pieces presented in Switzerland, Boston, and at Tufts, and works for bass clarinet, tuba, and other solo and chamber music pieces presented in the Boston area. His Piccolo Sonatina served as a “control piece” for the Piccolo Competition at the 1998 National Flute Conference in Phoenix, and he has recently completed scores for two films by Dr. Judith Wechsler sponsored by the Rhode Island School of Design and the Musee d’Orsay, Paris. A two-day festival of McDonald’s music was presented at Southern Illinois University in January of 1998. As a Director of Extension Works, a Boston-based Composer/Performer Consortium, McDonald frequently premieres piano pieces and chamber music by composers new and old. Dr. McDonald is Chairman of the Music Department at Tufts University, where he coordinates the composition program, teaches theory and history, and direct NME (the New Music Ensemble at Tufts). Many of his nearly eight hundred scores are published by Encore Music Publishers (a series of McDonald’s works for piccolo appeared in 1997-98), and by his own Third Floor Press.