James MacDonald currently teaches courses in theory and aural skills in the Music Department, as well as private lessons in conducting. He served for seven years as the Associate Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College, as the Associate Chair of the Music Department for two years, and as Acting Director of the Sherwood Community Music School in 2012.
Currently the music director and conductor of the Elmhurst Choral Union and Orchestra, MacDonald has been music director and conductor of the West Suburban Symphony, the Westminster Chamber Orchestra, the Chicago Businessmen’s Orchestra, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Chicago, the James Chorale, and the contemporary music ensemble, The Loop Group. He was Artistic Director of the Genesis Opera Group, and has also conducted for the American Opera Group.
MacDonald has conducted in many parts of the world, including performances with the Ho Chi Minh City Symphony in Viet Nam, the Sochi, Karelia, and Congress Philharmonic Orchestras in Russia, the Ploiesti Symphony in Romania, the Vratza State Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria, and the Komische Kammer Oper Munchen (Comedic Chamber Opera of Munich) in Germany. He recorded M. William Karlins’ “Elegy” with members of the Sofia Radio and Philharmonia Bulgarica Symphony Orchestras in Bulgaria, and recorded Kimo Williams’ “Symphony for the Sons of Nam” with the Academic Symphony Orchestra in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Locally, MacDonald has conducted the Elmhurst Symphony, Fox Valley Symphony in Wisconsin, the Lira Singers, as well as performances at the Chicago Humanities Festival and the New Music Chicago Festival. His orchestral work “Pockets” was given its premiere by the Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in 2012. MacDonald is the co-author of Essentials of Music Theory and Ear Training, and is now doing research for a book on American music. He has also produced both classical and rock and roll recordings.