Featured Soloists
Hayden Idson, Cello, and Joe MacDonald, Violin

Read our Interview with Hayden and Joe here. 


Hayden Idson, Cello, and Joe MacDonald, Violin

Hayden Idson is 14 years old and a ninth-grader. He began his cello studies at the age of four and a half and is currently a student of Paul Katz. His former teachers include Yehuda Hanani, Ronald Lowry, Michael Bonner, and Sandy Kiefer. This past summer, Hayden participated in the Bowdoin International Music Festival and studied with Steven Doane and Paul Katz.

Hayden appeared as a soloist for the first time at the age of 10, playing the first two movements of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor with the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra. In the following year, he was invited to perform Tchaikovsky’s Pezzo Capriccioso with both the Sharon Community Chamber Orchestra and the Brockton Symphony Orchestra. In 2017, he was the winner of the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra Young Soloist Competition and Waltham Philharmonic Concerto Competition and played Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 with both orchestras in 2018. Last year, Hayden won the Concord Orchestra’s Ehlers Young Artist Competition and performed Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the orchestra. He was also the featured artist at the Close Encounters With Music’s Annual Luncheon Musicale Benefit.

In addition to solo work, Hayden enjoys playing chamber music as well. He currently plays in a trio with Joe MacDonald (violin) and Naomi Yamaguchi (piano) and is a member of the Chamber Intensive Performance Seminar (CHIPS) at the New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School. His trio with Joe and Naomi recently won the Boston Music Institute (BMI) Chamber Competition, and they will be performing at the Winners’ Concert this coming November.

Hayden is also actively involved in the non-profit organization, CelloBello, which is an internet cello community created ten years ago by his current teacher, Paul Katz. Hayden recorded a number of instructional videos with Mr. Katz that will be posted on CelloBello. He also published a cello blog on the site. Based on a suggestion by Mr. Katz on how sound production is influenced by using straight versus angled bowing, Hayden devised a visual experiment to test the effects of different bowing techniques and summarized the results of his experiment in a blog post, which can be found at:

In his free time, Hayden likes to compose, study music history and theory, and jog around Jamaica Pond.

Joe MacDonald, 16, of Watertown, Massachusetts began playing the violin at the age of six after hearing a recording of Itzhak Perlman’s Tchaikovsky violin concerto, which sparked his passion for classical music. He started his violin study with Fudeko Takahashi and developed rapidly. He currently studies with Professor Yuri Mazurkevich of Boston University.

Joe has been awarded many prizes; Recently, he won first prize in the Dr. Carol Vasconcellos Youth Concerto Competition for the Brockton Symphony Orchestra. Other awards include: First prize in the Waltham Philharmonic Concerto Competition; first prize for two years (in different divisions) in the Roman Totenberg Competition; first prize in the New England Conservatory Prep Concerto Competition; the Massachusetts state winner in the MTNA Junior Competition; first prize in the Worcester Schubertiade Competition; and first prize in the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Competition in Vienna.

Since Joe’s first performance at the age of seven, he has performed as a soloist with the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra and with the New England Conservatory Junior Repertoire Orchestra in Jordan Hall. He has performed in many other venues, such as Boston Symphony Hall, Harvard Sanders Theater, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, Wiener Musikverein in Austria, and Gewandhaus in Germany.

In addition to his solo work, Joe is an avid chamber and orchestral musician. He has been active in the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra since age 8, was concertmaster in the Petit Ensemble, and at age 11, was selected into BYSO’s prestigious BYS orchestra, and at age 13 has become co-concertmaster under the direction of Federico Cortese. In 2018, he traveled to Leipzig in Germany to perform in the Bachfest at Gewandhaus with BYSO. Joe was also awarded the BYS Honors Award as a chamber player, as well as the George Keches Award for outstanding commitment and performance. BYSO is a special experience for him for many reasons but especially he loves the chance to perform Opera with singers.

Joe’s passion for chamber has been blooming with the support of great chamber players and coaches. (Hayden Idson is his good friend and one of his favorite cello players!) Last year, Joe was selected to NEC’s inaugural season of their Chamber Music Intensive Performance Seminar (CHIPS) and this year he formed a Piano Trio at NEC with Hayden and Naomi Yamaguchi. They recently won first prize in the Boston Music Institute Chamber Competition.

Joe is currently a junior at the Commonwealth School in Boston. In his spare time, Joe enjoys watching movies, reading, traveling—especially in Japan visiting his family—and spending time with his friends.

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