Organist and harpsichordist Mark McDonald is recognized for his sensitive interpretations of a wide range of repertoire and styles from early music to the avant garde. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada he is sought after for his skills as an organist, harpsichordist, choral director, and teacher. Laureate of several international competitions, he was the third-prize winner of the 2014 Arp Schnitger International Organ Competition in Hamburg Germany and most recently participated in the 2017 International Organ Competition Musashino-Tokyo. He was a featured soloist at the Royal Canadian College of Organist’s National Convention in Kingston, Ontario in 2016 and his diverse career has included performances with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the Victoria Symphony and Cirque du Soleil.
A native of Burlington, Ontario, he began his musical studies as a pianist and was drawn to the organ as a teenager. He pursued his musical studies at Queen’s University where he completed a dual degree in performance and composition studying organ with David Cameron, composition with Marjan Mozetich and Alfred Fisher, and conducting with Mark Sirett. During his time in Kingston, he served as Assistant Organist at Chalmers United Church and accompanist for several choirs including the Melos Choral Ensemble, the Kingston Choral Society, and the Kingston Chamber Choir. He also produced the classical radio program In Concert which aired on CFRC radio in 2009.
Mark moved to Montreal in 2009 to continue his studies at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University. He completed a Master of Music in organ performance studies with John Grew and an Artist Diploma and Doctorate of Music in organ and harpsichord performance studies with Hans-Ola Ericsson and Hank Knox. His studies also have taken him to Germany where he specialized in early music studies at the University of the Arts Bremen under Hans Davidsson and Harald Vogel. His doctoral thesis on the avant-garde composer Bengt Hambraeus, which explored and revised the organ registrations in Hambraeus’ landmark composition Livre d’orgue (1981), was published in 2017.
Mark has held positions at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, Christ Church Cathedral, St. James United Church and Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom in Montreal and he currently serves as Assistant Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, British Columbia. As a conductor, he has served as interim artistic director of One Equall Musick choral collective and he founded and directed the Compline Choir at Dio, a choral training initiative at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College.
He is currently the Instructor of Organ at the University of Victoria and is a founding member of the Victoria Organ Studio teaching collective. He has also taught Theory and Musicianship at the Schulich School of Music and the McGill Conservatory (2009-17), Church Music History at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College (2013-17), the McGill Student Organ Academy (2016-17) and the Royal Canadian College of Organist’s Student Organ Academy (2015-16). As an arts organizer and project leader, he has worked on the organizing teams for the Montreal Organ Festival (2017), Organ Festival Canada (2020) and the prestigious Canadian International Organ Competition (2017-2019).