Name: Sara McDonald
Most Likely To: Get sick to my stomach during something important, but in high school I was voted most likely to host my own talk show.
Favorite Quote: “Don’t try.” (meaning, do it)
As a young kid, Sara McDonald would canvass her neighborhood asking for donations to fund her latest musical endeavor. By the time Sara graduated high school, she had been in 30 musicals and was the lead soloist of her high school’s jazz ensemble. A graduate of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Sara McDonald has been running a 22-piece progressive rock big band for the past four years. In addition, she was a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation’s Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. Sara has performed and toured internationally, most notably at the Kennedy Center, The Lincoln Center, the East Village Music Festival, and the Montreal Jazz Festival.
What is your earliest memory associated with what you do now?
While I did not grow up to become a playwright or a musical theater producer, I do specialize in the orchestration of large music events and music for large bands. As a child I always wanted to be in charge of what I was doing or, at the very least, have an important say in what was going on around me. I loved creating art and then organizing the way it was showcased. I have wanted to create enormous spectacles of entertainment for people for as long as I can remember.
When I was about 6 or 7 I started “writing musicals” and “curating shows.” I’d write a short story, get all of my friends to memorize some lines, and even write a song or two. Then I’d go around the entire neighborhood putting up homemade flyers to advertise. I’d also go door to door and ask for donations. It was both a bold and shady move for a small child. My mom would always make me return any money I might have collected.
Anyway, I managed to put on a lot of these variety show type events. I’d drag lawn chairs to the nearest park, create some costumes and makeshift sets. Only the parents of the kids involved showed up, obviously.
When did your occupation become real to you?
My occupation became most real to me when it was clear that people wanted to be involved in what I was doing. I didn’t have to beg anymore. People would ask me personally to take part in my projects. When I played my first big festival that was also made me aware that something I was doing was working. I never thought about getting to that point in my career, and then suddenly it was all happening.
How does Brooklyn/your neighborhood particularly inform your work?
Kensington is where everything began! I wrote my first orchestral big band piece, began my first booking job, and started putting together shows all over the city when I moved to my first apartment in the neighborhood. Kensington specifically, will always be filled with nostalgia for me. I more or less came of age in the last 6 years. My neighborhood informs my work because all of my most important career moments occurred while I’ve been here.
As someone that grew up in a military family that moved all over the globe on an almost yearly basis, I never quite experienced that “home” feeling. I’d leave a lot of my things in boxes if I knew we’d be staying somewhere for a short period of time. I feel at home and at peace in Kensington. This has been the first moment in my life I’ve been able to nest and create a home for myself—a home I am always excited to get back to.
Read more at the source: BKMag – 30 Under 30, Class of ’18: Sara McDonald, Composer & Vocalist
The post 30 Under 30, Class of ’18: Sara McDonald, Composer & Vocalist appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine