Artists / Payton MacDonald

Payton MacDonald

William Paterson University

Payton MacDonald is a percussionist who works across a wide range of musical disciplines. He was a founding member of Alarm Will Sound, a new-music chamber orchestra. Alarm Will Sound is currently regarded as one of the foremost new music ensembles in the country, with multiple recordings and performances all over the globe. He has also appeared as a soloist in many countries, performed with Present Music and the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, Verederos flute and percussion duo, and toured Japan with Keiko Abe and the Galaxy percussion group.

MacDonald has dedicated much of career to expanding the art of marimba playing. To that end he has commissioned many works from other composers, including Charles Wuorinen, Robert Morris, Caleb Burhans, Don Freund, Peter Jarvis, Elliott Sharp, David Saperstein, Michael Udow, Stuart Saunders Smith, Gene Pritsker, and many others. MacDonald is also one of the few marimbists in the world who is a dedicated improviser. He frequently improvises entire performances, and works with other notable improvisers, including Billy Martin, Elliott Sharp, Aakash Mittal, Kevin Norton, Peter Evans, Tim Feeney, Todd Sickafoose, Theo Metz, and many others. MacDonald has released several recordings and YouTube videos of his improvisations. MacDonald has also performed and recorded on marimba with acclaimed singer/songwriter Noe Venable. MacDonald has released five solo marimba recordings on a variety of labels.

As a composer, numerous ensembles have performed MacDonald’s music around the world, including Alarm Will Sound, Los Angeles Philharmonic, JACK Quartet, New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, C4 choir, So Percussion, To Hit Duo, Young Voices of Colorado, Quintet Mont Royal, Classical Jam, Composers Concordance Ensemble, guitarists Mak Grgic and Eliot Fisk, tabla soloist Shawn Mativetsky, accordionist Bill Schimmel, French hornist John Clark,  and frame drummer Glen Velez. He has received grants and awards from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, American Music Center, American Institute of Indian Studies, as well as fellowships from Yaddo and Ragdale. He has also composed music for the Silken Dance Company and for filmmaker Susan Skoog.

MacDonald also enjoys parallel careers as an award-winning filmmaker, an East Indian Dhrupad singer, and an ultra-endurance mountain biker. He’s very busy.

Career Highlights

  • PASIC Showcase concert 2011 (solo marimba) and 2018 (with New Jersey Percussion Ensemble)
  • Fulbright Fellowship 2013-2014
  • Carnegie Hall Performance of his own percussion concerto with Alarm Will Sound 2009
  • Performance of own percussion concerto with Los Angeles Philharmonic 2010
  • Acclaimed solo marimba recordings 2003 – present

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