During Macdonald's tenure, the orchestra raised its profile by appointing two brilliant young musicians to its chief conductor post: Osmo V‹nsk‹, now the much-praised music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, in 1996, and Ilan Volkov in 2003.
Macdonald was also a persistent advocate of the SSO's move into its new home, Glasgow's renovated City Hall building, which opens next year.
Trained in music, Macdonald began his career as a teacher. He became a producer at BBC Scotland in 1985, and became the SSO's producer in 1988. Starting in 1991, he oversaw the orchestra as head of music at BBC Scotland. When the orchestra was spun off into a separate organization in 1996, he became its director.