Jean McDonald is a professor of the voice division at the University of Northern Iowa. She is an active contributor to creative life at UNI, appearing as a featured soloist in Faculty Showcase and Spotlight Series events, performing a broad variety of literature with an emphasis on chamber works, including several premieres. Recent performances have included, Ravel’s Sheherazade with the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Britten’s Abraham and Isaac for the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival, and Il Tramonto by Resphigi with the UNI Faculty String Quartet.
In March 2001, McDonald performed the West Coast premiere of Jeremy Beck's Black Water, a mono-drama based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, at California State University at Fullerton, a work she has recorded in collaboration with UNI faculty pianist, Robin Guy, released by Innova Records. The CD, pause and feel and hark, has since been recognized by Gramophone Magazine as “[One of the] best new recordings from North America[.]” In 2006, McDonald, for whom numerous works have been composed, recently showcased the work of faculty colleague and composer Jonathan Schwabe in a premiere of Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town for mezzo soprano and orchestra.
McDonald has appeared as a soloist throughout the region and with several New Music organizations throughout the country. Most recently, McDonald was a guest with the 2008 Mendocino Music Festival in performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. A familiar face to Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra patrons, she has appeared with Des Moines Symphony, Cedar Rapids Symphony, Quad-Cities Mozart Festival and the Messiah Festival of Music and Art (Lindsborg, KS), in performances of opera, oratorio and song. She holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Simpson College and several competitive honors, including awards from the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Auditions and the District Metropolitan Opera Auditions. McDonald’s students have earned numerous honors and awards and have secured placement in programs and positions of significant repute throughout the country.