“The ensemble played tightly under the direction of Geoffrey McDonald, bringing impressive clarity to a work never heard before.”
New York Classical Review, May 2019
“Geoffrey McDonald capably led the eloquent chamber ensemble made up of a string quartet with Japanese flutes, percussion instruments, and a koto providing non-Western accents.
The Wall Street Journal, May 2019
"The polished ensemble...gives its considerable all under conductor Geoffrey McDonald, sending waves of sound now lush, now sentimental, now sinister, through the auditorium."
Chicago Tribune, February 2018
“…the most emotionally powerful [performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors] I have ever experienced…Geoffrey McDonald led the orchestra with sensitivity and warmth.”
Opera News, March 2019
“Out of sight to the side of the chapel, conductor Geoffrey McDonald led a radiant-sounding team from the American Modern Ensemble through Menotti’s vivid score and extracts some first-rate singing from the show’s principals.”
Parterre Box, December 2018
“Conductor Geoffrey McDonald did his customary witchcraft…”
Observer, December 2018
Conducted by the gifted Geoffrey McDonald, the demands of this unusual space and positioning of the soloists and choir were managed to provide a wonderful acoustical environment…In this age when all musical institutions are experimenting with new venues, McDonald is a go-to conductor. He meets challenges with seamless musical presentation. His magic worked in Amahl.
Berkshire Fine Arts, December 2018
“Backed by the American Modern Ensemble under the sure guidance of OSO's Music Director Geoffrey McDonald (hidden from sight at one side of the church), Menotti's vivid writing and story-telling absorbed us with their vitality. Not a moment of the work felt padded, not a note out of place…”
Broadway World, December 2018
“Although Conductor Geoffrey McDonald and the American Modern Ensemble were in peripheral view, they nevertheless played a key role in the performance’s success. McDonald drew a rousing yet musically sensitive interpretation of Menotti’s melodic score from the ensemble, as well as exceptionally well-sung performances from all of the protagonists.”
Operawire, December 2018
“…exceptional orchestral playing, skillfully conducted by Geoffrey McDonald, which revealed diaphanous textures that I’ve not heard before in this score.[…]Ensemble coordination in Sweeney is a crucial value. It was this production’s greatest achievement[.]”
Parterre Box, November 2018
“The masterful orchestration…made a vibrant impression in the intimate Perelman Theatre. That is perhaps largely owing to conductor Geoffrey McDonald whose concise, minimalist baton work unleashed accuracy and fire from his players and vocalists. This is such a tightly interwoven, often restless creation that one slip could be fatal, but Maestro McDonald’s laser focused attention to detail brought the score thrillingly to life.”
Opera Today, September 2018
“Conductor Geoffrey McDonald and the orchestra deliver these textures with superb clarity”
Parterre Box, September 2018
“Conductor Geoffrey McDonald made it all seem so simple and easy, but it couldn’t have been.”
“There’s lyrical sweep but modernist angles from the ensemble of 11, conducted by Geoffrey McDonald”
New York Times, September 2018
“[Lembit Beecher] takes no easy way out--and gives none to his singers or orchestra, under the crisp, understanding baton of Geoffrey McDonald.”
Broadway World, September 2018
“Conductor Geoffrey McDonald handles the shifts with a keen sense of detail.”
Broad Street Review, September 2018
"[T]he cohesion achieved by conductor Geoffrey McDonald seemed effortless."
Classical Voice North America, March 2018
"Under conductor Geoffrey McDonald, the 16 members of the American Modern Ensemble gave Gordon’s score a crisp edge, with notable passion and unity."
Musical America, March 2018
"Geoffrey McDonald is On Site’s Music Director and conducts with seeming ease in often awkward locations...The music always rings out, even if it is hidden at the back of a synagogue or emerges from daffodils."
Berkshire Fine Arts, March 2018
"The American Modern Ensemble, under the direction of Geoffrey McDonald, handled the score brilliantly, playing tightly but with rich color."
New York Classical Review, March 2018
"Impressive and very much in-demand conductor Geoffrey McDonald does wonders with pacing and creating strong, suspenseful moments on stage."
Spotlight on Lake, February 2018
"Conductor Geoffrey McDonald’s musical direction was equally assured, bringing out the varied colors and restless energy of Puts’s score, and keeping keen momentum in the unbroken 105-minute span."
Chicago Classical Review, February 2018
"In addition to the vocal performances, the orchestra, led by conductor Geoffrey McDonald, sparkled from the first note to the last."
Opera Sense, February 2018
"Geoffrey McDonald led...with sensitivity and control."
Opera News, July 2017
"...the estimable International Contemporary Ensemble...gave a characteristically polished performance under the sharp leadership of OSO music director Geoffrey McDonald
Opera News, June 2017
"Mr. McDonald led the International Contemporary Ensemble in a crack performance [of Milhaud's La Mère Coupable."
"[Milhaud's La Mère Coupable] was performed here by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) under the nuanced leadership of OSO's music director Geoffrey McDonald, as if the difficult music were mother's milk"
"Music director Geoffrey McDonald kept tempos at a nice clip for his cast of well-coached and intelligible singers."
Opera News, May 2017
"...the period-instrument ensemble Grand Harmonie...led by Geoffrey McDonald, played [Mozart's Finta Giardiniera] with grace and verve."
"...led by Music Director Geoffrey McDonald, the performance [of Mozart's Finta Giardiniera] was as airy as a day in spring"
"Conductor Geoffrey McDonald ably led the medium-sized orchestra, in an adjoining room, in the Berlioz as nimbly as he led the Argento from skittering postmodernism to full-bodied melodiousness and back again."
Opera News, December 2016
"[On Site Opera] Music Director Geoffrey McDonald conducted with customary assurance."
"Geoffrey McDonald kept the music not only precise but also breezy. He was particularly effective in the opening scene in the kitchen, when he conducted with little more than a few shrugs and a raised eyebrow."
"McDonald...smartly kept the music's novelties integrated into a solid musical whole."
The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 11 2016
"McDonald’s confident and breezy conducting ensured a tight ensemble even when the singers had no way to see him."
"McDonald...brought endless variety and verve of this music to bright life with his magic hands[...]From the musical gestures and expressive turns his deft and daring physical ones elicited from his band and from his singers, it is clear that McDonald is a world-class conductor."
"an agile conductor...whose pacing is sure in both reflective and restless passages"
"...led with both care and beauty by the talented music director Geoffrey McDonald.[…]This challenging setting seemed not to disturb the delivery of the gorgeous early Berlioz score…
"The series opened happily with Giovanni Paisiello’s worthy Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1782), led with brio and admirable ensemble under testing acoustical circumstances by Geoffrey McDonald[...]the evening's musical side gave much pleasure."
"[one of] 10 pivotal moments in 2015 for opera"
"the conductor, Geoffrey McDonald, drew stylish, nimble playing."
"[The] orchestra distinctly conveyed conductor Geoffrey McDonald’s original and flexible musical imagination."
"Conductor Geoffrey McDonald repeated the miracle of nuanced coordination [in On Site Opera's production of Paisiello's Barber of Seville] between orchestra and singers he recently accomplished with Orlando downtown."
"Geoffrey McDonald—leading a chamber orchestra tucked away in an alcove—maintained precise coordination throughout."
Observer, September 30 2016
"...beautifully and sensitively accompanied by the orchestra…under Music Director Geoffrey McDonald…[they] played it as if it really mattered."
Broadway World, October 4 2016
“The score [of Alcina], one of Handel’s most glorious, was substantially yet smartly trimmed…by Mr. Schlather and the conductor, Geoffrey McDonald, who led a performance alert to both the overall momentum and the shape of individual numbers.”
"...tightly and tactfully interpreted by the orchestra under the baton of Geoffrey McDonald."
“Conductor Geoffrey McDonald conjured a delectable blend of sass and refinement from the Bard Festival Chamber Players in Stravinsky’s Ragtime for 11 Instruments (1918) and Les Mariés de la tour Eiffel (1921)."
"On Site’s music director Geoffrey McDonald proved a true opera conductor shaping and underlining the music for comedic effect."
"...under the inspired direction of Geoffrey McDonald...the players were skilled and energetic. The musical preparation was superb. At no moment did the flow of the music threaten to fray despite the extraordinary challenges of conducting a group singers often facing away from the conductor."
"Geoffrey McDonald...led Barbiere with a firm, loving hand."
"Geoffrey McDonald conducts with energy and precision, eliciting an authentically Baroque and highly musical performance"
"Geoffrey McDonald's graceful musical direction revealed an appealing affinity for Handel's music and the modest ornamentation throughout was tastefully done."
“[W]hen you choose artists of the highest caliber and the finished product [Händel’s Alcina at the Whitebox Arts Center] becomes not just an artistic experiment but truly an exceptional presentation of music and drama, you're really onto something.”
“The pieces fared well with the Longy Conservatory Orchestra, led by Geoffrey McDonald. McDonald’s leadership of the ensemble was thrilling and dynamic, coaxing a rich sound that resonated satisfyingly in the venue. In particular, I was struck by how resonant the histrionics of Psycho fared in the space, transforming an already seething accompaniment to a roiling furor. The Gone with the Wind suite was the clear hero of the evening, reveling in a generous performance that clearly understood the breadth of the Steiner’s motives, presenting them in a wide scope while maintaining significant attention to the minutiae of the score.”
“Geoffrey McDonald led the small, immensely adept ensemble in this vivid and delightful performance [of Händel’s Alcina]…the entire occasion is theatrical without compromising musical standards worthy of this brilliant score.”
“...the chorus and orchestra in Saturday’s performance [of Ravel’s L’heure espagnole and Weill’s Down in the Valley] sounded full and rich…Geoffrey McDonald led the way with a firmly paced, sensitive, and detailed reading of the score. The chamber orchestra answered his deliberate gestures with intensity and flair.”
“In this past year, the Longy Conservatory Orchestra has showed itself an ensemble with an impressive level of technical polish and uniform blend.”
“Mr. Kilstofte also supplied a more up to date setting of Rilke’s “To Music”…gracefully led by the choir’s assistant conductor, Geoffrey McDonald."
“…his conducting manner can turn on a dime. For choral groups, his batonless hands are fluid, almost balletic; for Beethoven, the baton is wielded. When the music-making goes awry, he'll flash a smile at the offending section, which somehow corrects the problem immediately. He doesn't confront difficulties as much as circumvent them with strategy.”