“Virginia MacDonald is one of the new, upcoming jazz musicians that is hitting the music scene today. Her playing and improvising skills are top-notch, and from the composing that I have heard from her, she is headed to break new ground in this genre of music.” Shelly Berger – Juno Award-winning bassist and composer
“[Virginia’s] tone is beautful…She plays like a scholar, very refined with plenty of soul.” Doreen Ketchens – revered New Orleans-based clarinetist
Known for her lyrical and soulful clarinet playing, Virginia MacDonald has been described as a “powerful new voice in the Canadian scene” by Juno Award-winning bassist Mike Downes. Born and raised in Toronto, Virginia began playing clarinet at the age of seven. She has since established herself as a highly in-demand bandleader, sidewoman, and composer, and regularly performs across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Virginia has performed at jazz festivals globally including performances at Detroit Jazz Festival, Rochester Jazz Festival, Jaipur Jazz & Blues Festival, Due Laghi Jazz festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, and Montreal Jazz Festival, to name a few. Virginia has had the pleasure of performing abroad extensively in India, Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Italy, and the UK, and has performed at historic and prestigious venues including Koerner Hall, Ronnie Scott’s, Smalls, and Le Duc des Lombards.
In 2020, Virginia was selected as the first-prize winner of the International Clarinetist Corona Competition; judges included Anat Cohen, Victor Goines, Ken Peplowski, and Doreen Ketchens. Some of Virginia’s other accolades include receiving a Stingray Rising Star Award at the Toronto Jazz Festival in 2019, and being selected as one of three finalists for the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Emerging Jazz Artist Award in 2021. In 2023, Virginia was selected to headline the International Clarinet Association 50th anniversary celebration at ClarinetFest in Denver, Colorado.
Virginia has recorded and performed with esteemed artists including Michael Dease, Ira Coleman, Harold Mabern, Geoffrey Keezer, Rodney Whitaker, Xavier Davis, Quincy Davis, Randy Napoleon, Derrick Gardner, Kirk MacDonald, Pat Labarbera, Neil Swainson, and Terry Clarke. Virginia is a member of the Canadian Jazz Collective, a seven-piece ensemble comprised of award-winning and established Canadian jazz musicians. In 2023, Virginia was featured on the Canadian Jazz Collective’s debut album “Septology”, which was recorded at the iconic MPS Records studio in Villingen, Germany.
Virginia was featured on Caity Gyorgy’s 2022 Juno Award-winning album “Now Pronouncing”. Recently, she appeared on Caity Gyorgy’s 2023 Juno Award-winning album “Featuring” and Grammy Award-winning trombonist Michael Dease’s album “The Other Shoe: The Music of Greg Hill”. Virginia has been featured on several Juno Award-winning artists’ albums, including Kirk MacDonald, Will Bonness, and Ernesto Cervini, and has appeared on numerous albums as a sidewoman.
In addition to her busy performance schedule, Virginia is an in-demand educator and has given workshops at universities and post-secondary music programs internationally. She has led masterclasses at McGill University, University of Manitoba, St. FX University, University of Toronto, the Global Music Institute, and the True School of Music.