Kevin McDonald, VAP Conductor
Dr. Kevin J. McDonald brings 23 years of teaching experience and a broad and diverse musical background to his position as conductor of the H+H VAP Young Men’s Chorus. Currently, Dr. McDonald is in his 13th year as Director of Choral Activities at Wellesley High School, where he instructs 300 students in five curricular choral ensembles. He is also the Director of Youth Music at the Wellesley Congregational Church, where he conducts over 60 singers in the Youth Choirs and leads the Village Brass Ensemble. Additionally, Dr. McDonald is an active guest conductor, adjudicator, and clinician, having conducted middle school and high school festival choirs in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York. Dr. McDonald received his BM in music education from the University of New Hampshire, MM in low brass performance from the University of Idaho, and a DMA in music education from The Hartt School, University of Hartford. McDonald is a recipient of several awards for his dedication to music education and quality of teaching, including the Springfield Chamber of Commerce Teaching Excellence Award and the Music Educators National Conference Professional Achievement Award.
What led you to become a conductor and educator?
I had grown up in a musical household so music was always a part of my life. Several teachers in organizations that I was part of as a teenager inspired me to want to teach music for a living. All of my experiences with these outstanding directors, and creating music with musicians from other towns opened my eyes to a greater, larger world through music. It was in high school that I realized the power of music to touch others. Every time I conduct a festival, every time I adjudicate a group, every time I’m asked for input, I see it as a glorious opportunity to touch someone’s heart. So when I was called about the Young Men’s Chorus position, I saw it as an opportunity to get together with another body of singers with whom I can make a positive impact personally, musically, and socially.
What do you think is the most important thing you could teach young men interested in singing?
One of the most important things that I could teach young men is that singing is an absolutely extraordinary activity to be part of. I think there are a lot of outside influences and artificial stereotypes that occur, that say sports is the only place that boys should be expending their energy. But they can do everything, and music is for everyone. They should be proud and comfortable in opening up the more sensitive side of themselves. Young men, whether it’s self-imposed or imposed by society, often don’t want to show moments of sensitivity and weakness. In reality, music draws out one’s ability to be sensitive, open, and caring.
What is your favorite music to listen to in your free time?
I have extremely diverse musical taste and listen to music of all genres. But I have to say, outside of the classical realm, I listen to an extraordinary amount of vocal jazz and country music.
What do you enjoy doing outside of conducting?
For me, it’s spending time with my family and working out. My wife and son are really important to me because they are who I’m sharing my life with. However, in high school, I had two identities: an athlete and a musician. I love to run and go to the gym. Honestly, though, at this point in my career, so many opportunities have opened themselves up musically, that I really don’t have much free time. I feel very blessed to have the family I have, the career I have, and the ability to still exercise and maintain my personal health.
Which H+H Bicentennial program are you most looking forward to?
I am extremely excited about our opportunity to perform Handel’s Zadok the Priest as we enter the year, and Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion in the second half of the year. They are wonderful masterworks from two of the best composers to have ever lived, and from that perspective it is a huge privilege to be able to experience these works.