Timothy McDonnell joined the faculty of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music in the fall of 2016, succeeding Leo Nestor as Director of Choral Studies and Head of the Institute of Sacred Music. Before coming to The Catholic University of America, he served as the Director of Choral Activities and Chairman of the Department of Music at Ave Maria University in Florida where he led the Ave Maria University Choir and the Ave Maria University Chamber Choir. Under McDonnell’s direction, the University ensembles won enthusiastic recognition and critical acclaim for their self-produced concerts as well as their collaborations with the Naples Philharmonic and the Southwest Florida Symphony in works including Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Carmina Burana, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, and numerous other masterworks. Dr. McDonnell engaged university choirs in creative community service, leading students and professional collaborators in two benefit concerts to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
McDonnell served as the Artistic Director of the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida. During his tenure, the Chorale specialized in exciting performances of choral masterworks, such as Messiah, Finzi’s In terra pax, Dvorak’s Mass in D Major, Brahms’ Schicksalslied, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, Joseph Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, and Michael Haydn’s Requiem. McDonnell founded the Sing Out!workshops for choral singers in the region, and in 2013 he inaugurated the first annual Choral Festival of Southwest Florida, collaborating with guest conductor Robert Page.
Since 2001, McDonnell has been the principal conductor for the Ars Laudis Festival Chorus and Orchestra, returning annually to conduct major sacred choral/orchestral masterworks, including Schubert’s Mass in B-flat Major, Bruckner’s Mass in E Minor, and Mozart’s Venite Populi. In March of 2015, maestro McDonnell made his conducting debut with the Naples Philharmonic, leading three performances of Haydn’s celebrated oratorio, The Creation. Previous to his arrival in Southwest Florida in 2007, McDonnell served as the Director of Music at the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican. In Rome, he was the master of the collegiate choir and led the ensemble in various contexts, including functions in the Vatican Basilica. Additionally, as director of the Music Chapel, Dr. McDonnell was responsible for the music at some 20 liturgies per week, as well as the directorship of the annual Christmas Concert for the American Community of Rome. McDonnell is also founding music director of Schola Nova, the resident ensemble of the International Institute for Culture in Philadelphia. Schola Nova has performed a wide variety of programs under McDonnell’s leadership, in works ranging from the baroque choral and orchestral repertory to the chamber arrangements of lieder by Mahler. Maestro McDonnell served as music director of Studio Lirico Opera Program in Italy in 2001 and as conductor of several productions at the Carolina Opera Theater of the University of South Carolina. In 2006, McDonnell led Elysium Concert Opera’s performance of Handel’s Xerxes in Philadelphia.
Maestro McDonnell’s performances have won high praise on the regional and national levels. In 2013 McDonnell was a finalist for the American Prize in choral conducting for his performance of Mozart’s Requiem with the Ave Maria University Chamber Choir. In 2014, he took third place in the American Prize for his performance of Brahms’ German Requiem with the Combined Choirs of Ave Maria University.
Dr. McDonnell is active as a composer and arranger. His compositions have been performed by several professional orchestras, including the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. His arrangements of works by Gustav Mahler, Lehár, Bruckner, and Sibelius have been praised widely for their innovative use of limited instrumental forces. Dr. McDonnell was a finalist for the 2014 American Prize in composition for his choral-orchestral work, Sub tuum praesidium. The jury noted, “Timothy McDonnell is a first rate composer, and I’m sure that we will be hearing more of his work in the future.”
Maestro McDonnell holds degrees from Yale University and the University of South Carolina.