Warren Puffer Jones, Music Director
The multi-faceted Shawn McDonald brings diverse talents and skills to Arbor Opera Theater as artistic director: tenor, pianist, organist, composer/arranger, costume & scenic designer, musical & stage director, and most recently librettist. Mr. McDonald was recently featured on PBS’ Detroit Performs for his critically acclaimed adaptation of Verdi’s La Traviata that AOT created with the National Network of Depression Centers to address the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Beginning his studies as a baritone, Mr. McDonald re-trained as a tenor with his mentor, Caroline Rogers of Marygrove College. He then continued his studies on a full scholarship at the University of Michigan, working under George Shirley and Shirley Verrett, as well as Martin Katz and Joshua Major. Notable roles include Don José in Carmen, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Alfredo in La Traviata, Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Sivgila and Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea. In 2006 he sang “Paul Claudel” in The Promise for the National Opera Association’s national convention. He has also participated in performance art, most notably a production of John Cage’s Europera 5, directed by Jack Behrens.
He is Minister of Music for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, directing numerous choirs and ensembles, as well as serving as pianist/organist since 1995. He also currently works as staff pianist/choir director and composer/arranger in residence at Temple Israel, West Bloomfield. Shawn's original compositions and arrangements can be heard on Temple Israel's first cd entitled Kavanat Haruach and the 2016 album
Eden Once Again.
Warren Puffer Jones is in his tenth year as Music Director of AOT. He received the Wilde Award in 2014 for best musical direction for AOT's The Sound of Music, and for his performance of Carmen (also with AOT), he was selected as 2nd runner-up in the opera division of The American Prize in Conducting, 2012. Also in 2012 he was the winner of the 4x4 Prize, a national competition for conducting new music. For seven years he was the Music Director of the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers. During his tenure, this organization expanded its concert season and achieved a high level of musicality praised by critics and audience members alike. In recent seasons he was Music Director of the Livingston Symphony Orchestra and the University of Michigan Campus Philharmonia Orchestra, and he also made conducting appearances with the UM Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra, the UM Opera Theatre, as well as the Detroit Medical Orchestra, an ensemble of doctors and medical students that gives charity benefit concerts. He also led performances for the Comic Opera Guild and the UM Gilbert & Sullivan Society and conducted the Dexter Community Orchestra. He has also served as Assistant Conductor with the Michigan Philharmonic, the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra and Opera Illinois. His operatic repertoire includes La Bohème, Carmen, La Traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Giovanni, Die Fledermaus, Madama Butterfly, Dido & Aeneas, Adamo’s Little Women, The Pirates of Penzance, and Iolanthe.
Mr. Jones did his undergraduate work at Yale University and received a Master's degree in choral conducting from Indiana University, with further study at the Conductor's Institute at Bard. He received a DMA in conducting from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Kenneth Kiesler. He has directed concerts in twenty-two countries and throughout the U.S., including appearances at the National Concert Hall in Dublin and New York's Alice Tully Hall. Maestro Jones is the Music Director of TACTUS, a professional vocal ensemble and chamber orchestra in Oklahoma City. He is also the Director of the Kemp Concert Series and the Music Director at the First Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City.
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