SARAH MACDONALD is a Canadian-born conductor, organist, pianist, and composer, living in the UK, and she holds the positions of Fellow and Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Director of the Girl Choristers at Ely Cathedral. She has been at Selwyn since 1999, and was the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel. Sarah came to the UK from Canada in 1992 as Organ Scholar of Robinson College, Cambridge after studying piano, organ, and conducting at The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School in Toronto with Leon Fleisher, Marek Jablonski, and John Tuttle. At Cambridge she read for a degree in Music, and studied the organ with David Sanger. Sarah has played numerous recitals and conducted choirs throughout the UK, North America, the Middle East, New Zealand, and much of mainland Europe. She has made over 35 recordings, variously in the guises of pianist, organist, conductor, and producer, and currently works most frequently with Regent Records. Her first solo disc, a recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on the Steinway-D in Ely Cathedral will be released in 2024. Sarah will also take up the prestigious office of President of the Royal College of Organists on 1 July 2024 (coincidentally, Canada Day).
Sarah is a winner of the Royal College of Organists’ (RCO) coveted Limpus Prize, and she has taught organ and conducting for the Rodolfus Foundation, Oundle for Organists, the Jennifer Bate Organ Academy, and courses run by the RCO. She has directed the annual Girl Chorister Course at St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, in New York City, and a number of RSCM in America residential courses. Sarah holds the Fellowship diploma of the RCO, and is a teacher and examiner for the University of Cambridge and the RCO. She has had over 50 choral and organ compositions published in the UK, Canada, and the States, and she is series editor for ‘The Sarah MacDonald Choral Series’ with Selah Publishing in Pittsburgh. Her liturgical music is performed regularly throughout the world, and recent commissions include pieces for RSCM and Oxford University Press anthologies, as well as a major work for the Sixteen. Sarah also writes a popular monthly column for the American Guild of Organists’ magazine The American Organist, called ‘UK Report’. A compiled volume of 12 years worth of her essays was published in November 2022.
She is a Patron of the Society of Women Organists, an Honorary Patron of the Herbert Howells Society, and President of the School Organists’ Association. In 2018 Sarah received the honorary ARSCM in recognition of her contribution to choral music in the UK and Canada, and the citation made particular mention of her support of contemporary British composers. She was recently appointed University Organist at Cambridge, and is the first woman to hold that prestigious ceremonial role, which dates back to 1670. In her spare time Sarah is a keen amateur photographer.