McDonald’s recent 2 CD release of Brahms “The Piano Miniatures” reveals a pianist “schooled in the romantic style of Theodore Leschetizky, Jeannette Durno and Lyell Gustin – playing that is always deeply felt, carefully considered and soundly musical.” (Music Times, Waterloo-Wellington Sept - Oct 2013). The lineage continued in his role as Honorary President of the Gustin/Trounce Heritage Committee (2005-15) and as Canadian Director of the Leschetizky Association. McDonald’s Wigmore debut in 1960 was followed by his New York recital in 1963 as winner of the Leschetizky Town Hall Debut Prize. He then toured North America, Europe and England as a member of the Beckett and McDonald Piano Duo.
Since 1982 he has been an active fortepianist recording the Complete Works for Cello and Fortepiano by Beethoven with cellist Paul Pulford. He toured Western Canada in 1990 with his Stein replica fortepiano in his Aerostar van and with that instrument appeared frequently with Jeanne Lamon and Christina Mahler as a member of the Classical Trio. A memorable performance of Schubert’s “Winterreise” with baritone Dan Lichti using an 1816 Nanette Streicher fortepiano was broadcast by CBC. The above mentioned Brahms “Piano Miniatures” were recorded on an 1851 Johann Baptist Streicher owned by Wilfrid Laurier University. Two tracks on Sylvia Tyson’s album “Joyner’s Dream” feature a 19th century Yacht Piano brought from England to Saskatchewan in 1904 by his Grandmother, Alice Suter.
As composer, McDonald studied with Murray Adaskin, Nadia Boulanger and at summer schools with Darius Milhaud in Aspen, Colorado (1954); with Stefan Wolpe (1964) and John Cage (1965) at Emma Lake Artist Workshops in Saskatchewan. His compositions have been performed by Bellows & Brass, The Scholars of London, The Renaissance singers, The Gallery Players of Niagara, Waterloo Chamber Players, Wellington Winds, NUMUS, Ekleipsis Guitar Trio, the Symphony Orchestras of Kitchener-Waterloo, University of Waterloo, Saskatoon, Hamilton and Vancouver.