Music alumnus performs world-class act
By Kasey Carty-Campbell
Music alumnus Cole McDonald
Photo by Morgan Stallings
You might be surprised to hear Cole McDonald’s parents telling him to “Remember your mouthpiece!” Why? Because this one-time Carnegie Hall performer, and 2007 Kennesaw State University graduate in horn performance, is on his way to the Conservatorio della Svizzera in Lugano, Switzerland to pursue a master’s degree in horn performance.
McDonald laughs when he recalls his first performance in the sixth grade, when he did, in fact, forget his mouthpiece. Twelve years later, he has not done it since, although his parents still remind him of this fact. He marvels when he looks back to his first days playing the horn, when his parents told him to close his door when he practiced, as it, well, a little rough. Nearly a decade later, he has the admiration of not only his parents, but that of KSU , and the Cobb Symphony Orchestra, where McDonald has performed for six seasons.
McDonald first learned of the Swiss conservatory from American Horn Quartet member, and conservatory professor, David Johnson. Johnson coached McDonald during an American Horn Quartet residency at KSU in 2006, and set up a conservatory audition for McDonald this year. “We believe in bringing great musicians in contact with our students," says Peter Witte, chair of the KSU Department of Music. "Just as Cole’s contact with David Johnson was key, so were his weekly interactions with KSU’s Michael Alexander, Tom Witte and other music members. Cole’s success is an example of what our students can accomplish through weekly works with master teachers."
Accepted into several prominent graduate programs within the United States, McDonald knew where he wanted to go when the opportunity opened to study in Switzerland. “I have always wanted to study abroad and this opportunity to go where a lot of classical music started and to be exposed to different styles of music is the best one for me to grow as a musician.”
McDonald will spend two years in the master’s degree program, leaving in July and spending the month of September in an intensive language course to learn Italian. Courses are offered in both English and Italian, and after getting his feet wet, he plans to take some of these courses in Italian to reach fluency in the language.
“Cole’s story is what we are about as a department,” says Witte, “Cole gets to spend the next couple of years on a musical and cultural adventure, and we know that there will be many more such students in the future.”
Although McDonald will be moving into un-chartered territory in a place where he does not know the language, or any of his fellow students, as the son of a military family he is familiar with change. “The military kid in me is looking forward to it,” he says. And the conservatory has him to look forward to as well.