Currently the Larsen Chair of Opera at Simpson College, Dr. Bernard McDonald garnered wide-ranging experience as a vocal coach, chorus master, and assistant conductor with major opera companies in America, Europe and Far East, before embarking on a freelance career as conductor and vocal coach. Professional training at the Merola Opera Program of the San Francisco Opera led directly to an invitation to join the music staff of the New York City Opera. He was subsequently Head of Music and Chorus Master at the Florida Grand Opera in Miami. As Chorus Master at Glyndebourne, he prepared over twenty-five productions to great critical acclaim for a host of internationally renowned conductors: highlights include Idomeneo with Sir Simon Rattle, Die Zauberflöte with Sir Charles Mackerras and Otello with Vladimir Jurowski.
Upcoming engagements as conductor include La rondine (Mobile Opera). Recent engagements include Tosca (Mobile Opera). Carmen (Opera Kelowna, British Columbia) and La bohème (Mobile Opera and Opera Kelowna), Die Zauberflöte, Le Nozze di Figaro (Opera Kelowna), Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi (Mobile Opera), The Merry Widow, The Magic Flute, Montemezzi’s L’incantesimo (US staged première), Gianni Schicchi, and Le Nozze di Figaro (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh); Don Giovanni and La Cenerentola (Bay View Music Festival, Michigan); Così fan tutte at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in Glasgow; and Bizet’s Le docteur Miracle and La tragédie de Carmen (for the Dutch National Opera Academy).
He has also worked with the Aspen Music Festival and School, the New National Theatre Tokyo, the Netherlands Opera, the Netherlands Radio Choir, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, and the Central Iowa Symphony, among others. He has been on the faculty of the RSAMD and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). He has also worked as a vocal coach at the Manhattan School of Music and the Indiana University Opera Theater.
A native of Dumbarton, Scotland, he studied at the RSAMD, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Glasgow, and Indiana University where he graduated doctor of music.