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In Memory

James McDonald, CSU Music Professor, Passes Away at Home

February 23, 2011

James McDonald, a professor in the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, died Feb. 11 at his home in Loveland.

Professor James McDonald James McDonald, a professor in the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, died Feb. 11 at his home in Loveland.

“A mark of an excellent teacher is the ability to teach students how to teach themselves. James McDonald did just that. He was truly inspirational. He did not only teach singing, he also taught life lessons,” said Austen Wilson, former student of Dr. McDonald. McDonald had taught at CSU for three years.

James McDonald, a native of Iowa, had all his degrees from Iowa institutions. His M.M. and D.M.A were completed at the University of Iowa, where he studied with Herald Stark. He also studied at the Hochschule fuer Musik in Munich, Germany, for three years as the result of receiving a Fulbright Scholarship and a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service. He also studied at the Britten-Pears School in England, where he studied with Sir Peter Pears, Eric Crozier, John Shirley-Quirk, and Gerhard Huesch.

He moved to Colorado from Boston, where he taught at the New England Conservatory of Music. Prior to that he was professor of voice for 10 years at Indiana University. Before teaching at Indiana, he was a professor of voice for 19 years at the University of Maryland, where he helped create the Maryland Opera Studio, and also was chair of the Voice/Opera Department for 11 of those years.

“Dr. James McDonald, tenor, was a superb singer, remarkable teacher, valued colleague, and friend,” said Cynthia Vaughn, guest associate faculty in the Department of Music at CSU. “When Jim and his beautiful wife, pianist Ruth Ann, decided to retire to Colorado to be near family a few years ago, Jim phoned to ask me about teaching possibilities in the area. We are so fortunate that Jim and Annie chose CSU. They both brought so much to the CSU music program. We will miss Dr. McDonald dearly. His students, colleagues, and friends will never forget him.”

His many performances in the United States and in Europe included appearances at the International Handel Festival in Halle, Germany, performances at the Library of Congress, and performances under many conductors, including Rafael Fruebeck de Burgos, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He also was a member of the Theater Chamber Players of Kennedy Center, a group founded by Dina Kosten and Leon Fleischer.

Dr. McDonald’s influence on American voice students spans decades and leaves a lasting legacy of excellence. “While he was with us for just a short time, he has left a lasting impression on our students and our program,” said Todd Queen, Chair of the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance. “We will miss his wisdom and experience.”

A concert celebrating Dr. McDonald’s life will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 10, in the Organ Recital Hall at the University Center for the Arts, 1400 Remington St. Many of Dr. McDonald’s former students from across the country will sing at this special event. This concert is open to the public and reservations are not necessary.

A scholarship in Dr. McDonald’s memory has been established. Donations to the James McDonald Memorial Scholarshipmay be made online at or mailed to P.O. Box 1870, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1870.

Contact: Dell Rae Moellenberg
Phone: (970) 491-6009