Heather Macdonald is a sought-after orchestral and chamber musician in the Toronto area who has established herself as a passionate advocate of music by living composers. She currently acts as a coach to the Contemporary Music Ensemble at the University of Toronto (U of T), and as part of the ensemble-in-residence for U of T’s composition seminar, where she workshops and premieres pieces by young emerging composers for chamber ensemble. She has performed with orchestras across North America including the Colorado Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic, Cheyenne Symphony, Windsor Symphony, Niagara Symphony, Soundstreams, and many more. Equally at home as a soloist, she has performed lecture recitals on contemporary works for solo oboe at York University’s Intersections|Cross-sections and U of T’s Converge Toronto conferences. Recently, she was engaged by SoundSCAPE Performance and Composition Exchange to workshop, record, and virtually premiere a new work for solo oboe by up-and-coming young American composer James Pecore. This autumn, Heather will premiere a new work for oboe and ukulele by Toronto composer Chelsea McBride, supported by an Ontario Arts Council (OAC) grant. She plans to release her FACTOR and OAC-funded debut album, featuring new commissions and fresh takes on classics, in 2023.
As an educator, Heather maintains a full studio of oboe and piano students, and is involved in many educational outreach initiatives. She is on faculty at McMaster University’s School of the Arts where she teaches oboe lessons. She also leads studio classes and teaches lessons as a teaching assistant in the oboe studio at U of T. She has taught masterclasses at MusicFest Canada's Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra Summer Festival and at the University of Colorado’s Summer Music Academy and at several schools across Colorado and in the Greater Toronto Area.
Heather’s principal teachers include Sarah Jeffrey and Richard Dorsey (Toronto Symphony), Peter Cooper (Colorado Symphony), and Charles Hamann (National Arts Centre Orchestra). She holds a Master of Music from the University of Colorado, an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Ottawa. She is currently working towards the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Toronto.
Heather’s doctoral research explores the intersections between musicians’ health and music education as it applies to the oboe. She has presented her research at numerous academic conferences including the International Double Reed Society, the International Symposium for Performance Science, the Performing Arts Medicine Association, and the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare. Her research on playing-related injuries in oboe players was recently published in Frontiers in Psychology and was awarded third prize in the Performing Arts Medicine Association’s Alice G. Brandfonbrener Young Investigator Award. In 2021, she won second prize in U of T’s university-wide Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Heather's research has been supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) grant since 2021.
When not performing or teaching, Heather loves to ride her bicycle, rock climb, and teach and practice yoga.