2019 Stingray Rising Star Award recipient and 2020 ICCC first prize winner Virginia MacDonald has established herself as a respected and sought after jazz clarinetist on the Canadian and international jazz scenes. Virginia grew up in Toronto, and began playing her main instrument, clarinet, at the age of seven. Since then, she has performed extensively as both a leader and side woman at several venues and festivals across Canada, and reg- ularly performs across the city of Toronto at venues including Koerner Hall, The Four Seasons Centre for the Per- forming Arts, The Jazz Bistro, and The Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar. Virginia has performed in several Canadian and International jazz festivals including the Cambridge Jazz Festival, the Jaipur Jazz & Blues Festival, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, the TD Markham Jazz Festival, the Beaches International Jazz Festival, the Kensington Market Jazz Festival, and the Cape Breton Jazz Festival. Virginia has had the opportunity to work internationally across the United States, India, and Europe.
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 2020, Virginia was selected as the first-prize winner of the International Clarinetist Corona Competition; judges included Grammy Award-nominated artists Anat Cohen and Victor Goines.
Virginia has performed and recorded alongside internationally renowned musicians including Harold Mabern, Michael Dease, Kirk MacDonald, Pat LaBarbera, Neil Swainson, Todd Marcus, Jocelyn Gould, and Laura Anglade. As a bandleader, she performs her original music regularly across Canada and has led her own groups at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, the TD Markham Jazz Festival, The Cape Breton Jazz Festival, and the Kensington Market Jazz Festival. She appeared on Juno Award-winning saxophonist Kirk MacDonald’s 2013 big band release, Com- mon Ground, and his 2018 release with the great Harold Mabern, Generations: Ballads & Standards. Virginia was recently featured on Caity Gyorgy’s 2021 Juno Award-winning album “Now Pronouncing”.
In addition to her busy performance schedule, Virginia is an in demand educator and has given workshops at universities and post-secondary music programs both locally and internationally. She has led masterclasses at St. FX University, the University of Toronto, McGill University, the VSO School of Music, the Global Music Insti- tute (Delhi), and the True School of Music (Mumbai). Virginia has also given several masterclasses at GTA high schools including The Toronto French School, Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute, and William Lyon Macken- zie Collegiate Institute. Virginia currently holds the Assistant Head of Jazz position at Toronto community out- reach/non-profit organization Discovery Through the Arts, and is on the faculty at the Bob Mover Academy of Music, alongside jazz legends such as Charles MacPherson, Sheila Jordan, and Billy Drummond.
Virginia is a Rovner Products endorsed artist.