This “now page” offers a big picture glimpse into my what I’m focused on at this point in my life.
Happy New Year, everyone! I dove into 2024 doing one of my favorite things —breathing life into freshly composed music. I’m embarking on a unique venture, crafting art songs tailored for a bass-baritone operatic vocalist. On New Year’s Day, vocalist Rod Nelman and I began exploring my three latest musical creations. While my usual inclination leans towards instrumental composition, this time, I am driven to contribute to dialogues surrounding human rights, climate concerns, common-sense gun reform, and racial justice. To achieve this, I am carefully selecting eloquent poems that I will set to music, aiming to amplify their emotional impact. Stepping out of my jazz comfort zone and venturing into uncharted musical territories is proving to be a challenge that I’m thoroughly enjoying!
The MacDonald family continues to make our home in Connecticut, nestled close to UConn. It’s mind-blowing to realize my son is now a high school senior, and my daughter a sophomore. Time truly flies! My wife Jana has officially concluded her tenure as a homeschooling teacher and is embarking on a new journey. She’s set to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Peace & Justice, starting this month! Additionally, Jana shares her insights regularly on Substack, at: https://janamacdon.substack.com/. Subscribe and it will come to your inbox each month.
I still find great satisfaction in my work at the University of Connecticut, teaching and overseeing the flourishing Jazz Studies program. Over the past few years, we’ve experienced an impressive expansion in the program, drawing in talented freshmen who are already playing at a high level. We’ve hired exceptional new adjunct faculty members, made meaningful curricular adjustments, introduced innovative degrees, and refined existing ones. The undeniable progress of the program is a source of great pride, and collaborating with my fantastic colleagues is truly rewarding.
On a personal note, I’ve successfully worked through most of my running injuries from the last couple of years, thanks to a combination of physical therapy, targeted exercises, chiropractic care, and dry needling treatments. I’m gradually resuming my track training, aiming for 3 or 4 sessions per week. If I can maintain a healthy, injury-free status in 2024, I’m setting my sights on a half marathon in June and a full marathon in October. The ultimate goal? Qualifying for the prestigious Boston Marathon with a sub-3:25 time.
In moments of downtime —whether driving, folding laundry, exercising, or tidying up—I enjoy listening to the thought-provoking “Bible for Normal People” podcast. I started from the beginning and am now over 215 episodes deep. This podcast has exposed me to diverse theological interpretations, aiding me in reconciling long-standing cognitive dissonances. I wholeheartedly recommend this podcast to those navigating similar intellectual and spiritual journeys.
Looking ahead to the possibilities of the new year, I’ve been dreaming and planning. Although the events of 2020 underscored the uncertainty of life, reminding us all that plans can shift unexpectedly, I’m approaching the future with optimism, ready to embrace whatever comes our way. Cheers to new beginnings and the potential of 2024!