Research/Areas of Interest:

Composition and new music pedagogy; intermedia collaboration involving composing and performing; solo and chamber music composition, performance and recording; writing new music for young and non-professional performers; music applications for visual art and science; advocacy of new and overlooked composers through research and performance


  • DMA, Yale University, United States, 1989
  • BA, Yale University, United States, 1981
  • MM, Yale School of Music, United States, 1983


Recently described as "the New England master of the short piece," John McDonald is a composer who tries to play the piano and a pianist who tries to compose. He is Professor of Music at Tufts University, where he teaches composition, theory, and performance. His output concentrates on vocal, chamber, and solo instrumental works, and includes interdisciplinary experiments. Before coming to Tufts in 1990, he taught at Boston University, Longy School of Music, M.I.T., and the Rivers Conservatory. He was the Music Teachers National Association Composer of the Year in 2007, and served as the Valentine Visiting Professor of Music at Amherst College in 2016-2017. His newest recording is At All Device (Bridge Records 9528; a collection of piano works played by soloist David Holzman; 2020).

Recent Commissions; Performance Activities
•2021 Boston Woodwind Society/Ensemble Uncaged (Longy School of Music): Caught In Mid-Arabesque: Three Settings, for baritone, trumpet, alto sax, and piano (premiere in Fall 2021)
•2021 Pianist Jihye Chang, The Boston Etudes Project: Fleetude (solo piano) (online premiere February 2021)
•2020 Violinist Joanna Kurkowicz/Bach and Beyond Streaming Concerts: Subcutaneous, for solo violin (online premiere April 27, 2021)
•2020 Pianist Thomas Stumpf: Far And For Long (solo piano); premiered January 31, 2021; Distler Hall livestreamed recital
•2020 Elizabeth Reian Bennett (Shakuhachi; Rabat, Morrocco): Rabat Melody Collection (two volumes); for shakuhachi, flute, Baroque flute, or recorder
•2019 Music Connects Us/Global Concert Exchange: Clime Climb, for traverso/flute soloist and community ensemble
•2019 Hartt School/University of Hartford: David Dovetails Domenico, for piano
•2018 Scott Woolweaver Sixtieth Birthday: Equinox: The Goldfinch (contralto and viola)
•2017 Rivers Conservatory: Second Sonata for Solo Violin
•2016 Cello e Basso: Mediated, Monitored, for cello, contrabass, and piano
•2015 Master Singers of Lexington: Uprights, for chorus and contrabass