Meet our faculty...


Rachel li mcdonald, viola

Since her PBS broadcasted debut chamber performance at Carnegie Hall through From the Top Live from Carnegie, violist Rachel Li McDonald has continued to be an active performer and teacher in both solo, chamber, and orchestra settings throughout North America and Japan. Through the Young Musicians Foundation Chamber Program, Rachel has performed live on KMZT Radio’s “Sunday Live” broadcast various times. In 2006, she also performed live on KMZT for YMF Mozart 250th Birthday Chamber Concert. She also performed as part of the Colburn Honor’s Quartet as well as in various chamber festivals such as Encore Summer School for Strings, The Quartet Program, and Heifetz International Summer Institute. Chamber coaches include Earl Carlyss, Daniel Heifetz, Nicholas Mann, Desmond Hoebig, and James Dunham.

Ms. McDonald has a thriving studio, with students regularly making all-region and all-state in Texas Music Educators Association. She holds a Bachelors degree from The Juilliard School under Heidi Castleman and Misha Amory as well as a Masters degree at Rice University studying under James Dunham. She previously studied with Diana Ray Goodman, John Hayhurst, and Brian Chen. She has also performed in masterclasses with Paul Coletti and David Holland, as well as the renowned Biava Quartet, Cavani Quartet, and Takacs Quartet.

As a performer, Ms. McDonald has soloed with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, Rachel has also performed as an orchestral musician in the Colburn Chamber Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, and Shepherd School of Music Orchestra under such conductors as Ronald Leonard, James DePreist, Bernard Haitink, Tan Dun, and Larry Rachleff. 

Passionate about spreading the joy of music to the community, Rachel was a part of the Gluck Fellowship program offered at Juilliard, through which she went to a variety of hospitals and care centers throughout the city to perform to audiences ranging from young children to the elderly. In her pre-college days, Rachel also was a part of an ensemble called Sunset Hills String Ensemble, performing similar outreach concerts in Southern California.



Alex mcdonald, piano

Since his orchestral debut at age 11, pianist Alex McDonald has soloed with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de Mexico, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and the Utah Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has performed across the United States as well as in Israel, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and South Korea; additionally, he has been a featured performer on PBS, WRR, NPR, and WQXR. Awards and fellowships include second prize at the 2007 New Orleans International Piano Competition and second prize at the 2001 Gina Bachauer International Young Artist Piano Competition. In 2008, he was named a Harvey Fellow by the Mustard Seed Foundation. He was a participant in the 2013 Van Cliburn Competition. Active as a chamber musician, McDonald’s recent program "Music for Animals" (collaborating with Cathy Lysinger and Andrey Ponochevny) was hailed by Theater Jones as one of its "Concerts of the Year" for 2016.

Dr. McDonald is currently the festival director for Basically Beethoven, a thriving summer concert series in downtown Dallas’ Arts District. He has taught at Texas Woman’s University, Richland College as well as at the Juilliard School, where he also was a Teaching Fellow for both the Literature and Materials and Piano Minor departments. Additionally, his private piano students have been admitted to Juilliard and Eastman, and have performed at Carnegie's Weill Hall and on WRR. Texas Music Teacher’s Association recently awarded him the 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award in teaching. Deeply concerned about a healthy integration of life with music, he has actively pursued community formation both as an R.A. in the Juilliard residence hall and as president of Juilliard Christian Fellowship.

Dr. McDonald received his pre-college training under Lois Nielson, his bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory with Academic Honors and Distinction in Performance under Russell Sherman, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Juilliard under Yoheved Kaplinsky and Julian Martin. His doctoral document, a source study on manuscripts and editions for Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, has been cited in the most recent edition of the sonata by Alfred Publishers, edited by Nancy Bricard.

Alex McDonald and his wife Rachel sometimes play chamber music together, and their artistic collaboration also includes a really cute little boy named Micah, who has his mother's eyes and his daddy's hair.


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Marcy McDonald, Piano

Marcy McDonald has been teaching piano in the Dallas area for the past 35 years.  In 2006 Ms. McDonald was recognized by the Texas Music Teachers Association for outstanding achievement in piano pedagogy with the Pre-Collegiate Teacher of the Year Award for teaching excellence. Ms. McDonald is an active member of DMTA (Dallas Music Teachers Association), TMTA (Texas Music Teachers Association), MTNA (Music Teachers National Association), and Junior Pianists Guild.

Ms. McDonald’s students have been singled out and awarded top prizes in many local, state, national, and international piano competitions, including multiple first prizes at the prestigious National MTNA Yamaha Competition and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Lynn Harrell Competition. In addition, students have consistently won top prizes in the Collin County Young Artists Competition, Texas Association of Symphony Orchestras, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and the Lennox International Concerto Competition, resulting in performances soloing with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Plano Symphony Orchestra, the Lewisville Lake Symphony Orchestra, the SMU Meadows Symphony Orchestra, the Richardson Symphony Orchestra, the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Chamber Symphony, and others. Students from Ms. McDonald have been accepted with scholarship into such prestigious music conservatories and universities including the Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes School of Music, the University of Texas in Austin, and Rice University, among others.

Because of the many accomplishments and the reputation of high achievement, many students within the McDonald Piano Studio have been invited to perform in events not relating to competitions, including solo performances with the Los Colinas Symphony Orchestra, the Garland Symphony Orchestra, the Flower Mound Symphony, and Symphony Arlington, as well as for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League, Texas Association of Symphony Orchestras, Steinway Hall and a pre-concert recital for the Basically Beethoven Summer Music Festival. Her students have participated in major international summer music festivals including the Gijón Internation Piano Festival (Spain), the Banff Summer Music Festival (Canada), the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Texas State International Piano Festival, Piano Texas, and the SMU Institute for Young Pianists. They have had the opportunity to perform in the master classes of internationally recognized concert pianists and pedagogues including Juilliard's Yoheved Kaplinsky, Julian Martin, and Robert McDonald, Eastman's Doug Humpherys, Michigan's Logan Skelton, and others.

In addition to teaching piano, Ms. McDonald is the proud wife of CPA husband David and mother of 5 children all of whom share her love of the piano and great music.