Winner of the prestigious 2013 Heinz Unger Award for Orchestral Conducting from the Ontario Arts Council, Canada’s highest prize for orchestral conducting, Martin MacDonald is one of Canada’s most dynamic and outstanding young conductors of his generation. Martin is increasingly sought after as a guest conductor having conducted several orchestras across Canada.
Martin currently serves as Associate Conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia where he travels to conduct several programs with SNS while remaining based in Toronto, Ontario. Also for 2015-2016, he will make his debut with the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra. In 2014-2015, as well as his work with SNS, Martin returned to conduct the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra London, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, and also conducted Orchestra Toronto. In 2013-2014, Martin made his debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orchestra London, and returned to conduct the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra as well as several programs with SNS. Guest appearances in the 2012-2013 season included returns to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as engagements with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra. In 2011-2012, Martin’s guest conducting engagements included the orchestras of Edmonton, Thunder Bay with the Minnesota Ballet, Prince George, SNS, and multiple appearances with both the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. In 2010-2011, Martin made his main series debut with Symphony Nova Scotia which was broadcast by the CBC with Jonathan Crow as soloist, conducted the Canadian premiere of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada’s production of Fidelio, and his final subscription performances with SNS and The Barra MacNeils were recorded for an award-winning commercial release. Additionally, he has led several performances with the Dalhousie University Symphony Orchestra, Nova Sinfonia, and the Scotia Festival of Music Chamber Players. Martin has worked with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali Milan, and the Akademisches Orchester Zurich in prestigious conducting workshops, and was one of only two Canadians to be invited to the 2008 IX Cadaques Orchestra International Conducting Competition in Barcelona, Spain. He was named to the Halifax Chronicle Herald’s 2008 Honours for Excellence in the Arts, served on the board of directors of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, and he has extensive experience as a cellist with various orchestras across Canada.
In 2011, Martin concluded a celebrated three-year term as Resident Conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia. With SNS, Martin conducted over 100 performances, led the orchestra on tours, covered all concerts and repertoire, and worked closely with Maestro Bernhard Gueller through this remarkable mentorship. Several of Martin’s performances were recorded and broadcast nationally on CBC Radio – the most broadcasts of any Canadian resident conductor. In recognition of his highly successful work with SNS and deep commitment to the community, Martin was awarded the 2010 Jean-Marie Beaudet Award in Orchestral Conducting from the Canada Council for the Arts. Previous to this, Martin served as Associate Conductor of the National Academy Orchestra of Canada for three seasons where he assisted Maestro Boris Brott on all aspects of performances, programming, training, and artistic development of this national training program.
Martin completed his Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting at McGill University in Montréal, and his Bachelor’s degree in Cello at Memorial University in St. John’s. At McGill, he assisted both the McGill Symphony Orchestra and Opera McGill; and conducted the Contemporary Music Ensemble. In St. John’s he conducted extensively and was a cellist with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra from 1997-2004. He has studied conducting with Alexis Hauser at McGill; Bernhard Gueller at SNS; Boris Brott at the National Academy; Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School; and in workshops with Kenneth Kiesler, Gustav Meier, Jorma Panula, and Johannes Schlaefli. Martin’s conducting activities have been generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Born on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Martin is the youngest of 12 children and his training began at the age of six with cello, violin and piano. He is an alumnus of both the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland youth orchestras. Martin has a diverse musical background with a strong Celtic music tradition in his heritage – he has toured and performed Celtic music extensively with members of his family throughout Europe and North America.
Martin resides in Toronto, Ontario with his wife Kristen and their daughter, Frances.