David McDonnell

Contact Information

  • Phone: 937-229-3838
  • Location: FH 463

David McDonnell

Adjunct Faculty, Music Technology

  • Adjunct


David McDonnell is a composer, computer music programmer and jazz saxophonist. A Chicago native, McDonnell currently resides in Cincinnati, where he teaches music technology, jazz saxophone and composition at The University of Dayton and laptop music at The University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music (CCM). McDonnell received his Doctorate in Composition from CCM in 2012, where he studied with Joel Hoffman and Mara Helmuth. Although mainly a spectralist in compositional practice, McDonnell attempts to fuse these techniques with the rhythms and melodic approaches gleaned from his years in Chicago as a professional jazz and rock musician.

Recent premiers of his chamber and orchestral music include In a Clearing, for solo trombone and accompaniment at The Colburn School in Los Angeles (Winter 2013) and An Uncertain Machine, for strings and orchestral winds, brass and percussion by the Café MoMus ensemble at CCM in Cincinnati (Spring 2012). In the summer of 2011, he received a fellowship to attend the Music X Festival in Blonay, Switzerland, which was curated by the Eighth Blackbird Ensemble.  It was here that his chamber trio Islands in a Sea of Light was premiered. This past winter McDonnell was in the studio with Chicago’s Quartet Parapluie, recording his most recent string quartet, the dragon and the griffin.

McDonnell’s jazz compositions and saxophone playing with the Chicago group Herculaneum have been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” in a review of their 2011 album, Olives and Orchids.  Herculaneum performed at the 2012 New York Winter Jazz Fest in support of their current release UCHU. This performance garnered a positive review in the New York Times. He keeps a busy profile in his home of Cincinnati with his electronic music trio Diving Bell whose first album was just released on the Belarus HAZE label. McDonnell recently completed an album of original jazz compositions for a quartet comprised of musicians from Chicago and New York and has begun work on a piano sonata.