Composer Alasdair MacLean grew up in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada, where, after youthful piano and voice lessons, he spent his teenage years playing in rock and prog-rock bands. Initial composition studies began at Mount Allison University, and continued at the Juilliard School, McGill University and the University of Toronto. He also spent time as a scholarship student at L’Ecole d’Arts americaines in Fontainebleau, France where he received the Diplome d’Honneur in Composition.
Alasdair MacLean has completed more than 40 professional commissions, for a wide variety of musical ensembles and soloists, and in a number of contexts, including concert music, school music, music theatre and opera. Some of the professional musicians and musical ensembles MacLean has written for include: Symphony Nova Scotia, the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, Wendy Nielsen, Measha Brueggergosman, Suzie Leblanc, Robert Pomakov, the Saint John String Quartet, the Atlantic Arts Trio, Denise Djokic, Susan Platts, Lucille Chung, Kaori Yamagami, the Borealis String Quartet, Motion Ensemble and the Northumberland Brass.
Highlights of MacLean’s career include a successful four-year stint as composer-in-residence with Symphony Nova Scotia for which he wrote six works: three for orchestra, and one each for narrator and orchestra, chorus and orchestra, and piano and orchestra. Following this came a three-year composer-in-residence position with Debut Atlantic, the classical chamber music touring organization based in Halifax; during this residency, MacLean wrote nine works for selected Debut Atlantic soloists or ensembles.
During the course of these two residency positions, Alasdair MacLean was involved in significant educational outreach throughout Atlantic Canada; visiting over 30 public schools and universities to give workshops, lead creative projects, and collaborate with teachers in their music programs.
Alasdair MacLean has been involved in many aspects of the professional music world during his career – as adjudicator, arts jury member, workshop participant and leader, and as a writer about music.