Originally from Reading, Mass., conductor Steven McDonald, director of orchestral activities, has served on the faculties of the University of Kansas, Boston University and Gordon College, and has also served as music director of Musica Modus Vivendi of Harvard University. While at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was founder and music director of the Summer Opera and Independent Activities Period orchestra, and served as conductor of the MIT Chamber Orchestra, and the Gilbert and Sullivan Players. At the University of Kansas, McDonald served as assistant conductor of the KU Symphony, and was the founder and music director of the Camerata Ensemble of non-music majors, and of the chamber orchestra “Sine Nomine,” a select ensemble of performance majors. Additionally, he has conducted performances of the KU Opera. His has also served as vocal coach at the Boston University Opera Institute, and at Gordon College.
McDonald served as music director of the Lawrence (Kan.) Chamber Orchestra from 2007-14, during which time the group transformed into a professional ensemble whose repertoire featured inventive theme programs and multimedia performances. In 2009, he was selected to conduct the Missouri All-State High School Orchestra, and in 2011 was the first conductor selected as guest clinician at the Noel Pointer Foundation School of Music which serves inner-city students in Brooklyn, N.Y. An avid proponent of early music, McDonald has also taught Baroque performance practice at the Ottawa Suzuki Strings Institute summer music program, and regularly incorporates historically informed practice into his performances.
Another aspect of McDonald’s musicianship can be seen in his formation and conducting of the Lafayette Swing Orchestra, a “society orchestra” based in Wakefield, Mass., modeled after the great hotel orchestras of the 1930s. An ensemble that combines the lushness of strings with the excitement of a swing-era big band, this was the resident orchestra at Boston’s Harvard Club for its annual New Year’s Eve celebrations.
McDonald is a graduate of the Boston University School for the Arts, the Sweelinck Conservatory of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts.