Virginia MacDonald, 2021 Finalist

2020 International Clarinetist Corona Competition first prize winner Virginia MacDonald has established herself as a respected and sought after musician in the Canadian jazz scene. Known for her lyrical and soulful clarinet playing, Virginia has been described as a “powerful new voice in the Canadian scene” by Juno Award-winning bassist Mike Downes. In addition to her busy performance schedule, Virginia is an in-demand educator and has given masterclasses at McGill University, the Global Music Institute, and the True School of Music. Virginia is a Rovner ambassador.

Virginia gave us some insight on what it's like to be, and be brought up by, a jazz musician. 

In addition to being a performer, you are also a sought-after music educator. Tell us why you love teaching music.

I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today as a performer without the guidance I have received from my teachers over the years. As a musician, I feel a sense of duty and pride in passing down the knowledge my mentors have imparted on me. Teaching to me is all about giving back to the community.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career has been being able to perform internationally. Before the onset of the pandemic last year, I had the opportunity to tour India with my father’s band. The experience really cemented in my mind the far reaching power music has, and the ability music has to connect people on a global scale. The connections I have made from performing abroad are so beautiful and important to me.

You have been able to perform across the world. What do you think makes the jazz scene in Toronto unique?

I think the Toronto jazz scene is special because it draws upon so many different styles and cultural influences. There is an incredible sense of close-knit community within the scene despite Toronto being such a large city, and I have always felt supported and welcomed by both peers and the older generation of musicians alike.

Your father is an award-winning jazz musician. Tell us about your experience of performing and recording with him.

It’s always an incredibly special experience whenever I have the opportunity to perform or play alongside my dad. Sharing the stage with someone you have a close personal relationship brings a sense of trust and synergy to the music that in turn allows you to play and express yourself freely. Throughout the years, we have developed a repertoire and rapport that makes playing together feel incredibly natural.

How does it feel to be nominated for the Emerging Jazz Artist Award?

I am so grateful to have been nominated for the Emerging Jazz Artist Award! I feel humbled to be included amongst a long list of incredible Toronto jazz musicians who have been nominees or recipients of this award in the past. The past year has presented so many hurdles for the music community, and it really feels like a beacon of hope to be given this opportunity. I’d like to give a big thank you to the Toronto Arts Foundation and Cheryl and Manuel Buchwald for their continuous support of the Toronto arts scene!