Peterborough: Family group set for United Methodist on Saturday

MacDonald Singers to perform

United Methodist Church: Free concert of hymns, gospel, sacred music

  • The MacDonald Family Singers will perform at the United Methodist Church in Peterborough on Saturday, April 27, at 7 p.m.
  • The MacDonald Family Singers will perform at the United Methodist Church in Peterborough on Saturday, April 27, at 7 p.m.

“I always wanted to sing with my family,” says Victor MacDonald, founder of the MacDonald Family Singers, a nine-member family band based in Orange, Mass. “We started with just piano and voice. Then we added a bunch of instruments and styles as our children got older. Now we’re traveling about 20,000 miles a year.”

The band will share its repertoire of original scripture melodies, a cappella hymns, traditional and gospel bluegrass and sacred classical music at 7 p.m. Saturday at the United Methodist Church on Concord Street in Peterborough.

The MacDonald Family Band’s focus is gospel music — “All styles except contemporary rock and roll,” Victor said last week. The singers include Victor; his wife, Laurie; their children Hannah, 13; Daniel, 16; Matthew, 17; Nathan, 19; Peter, 21; Carol, 27; and Carol’s husband, Seth, 23.

Laurie plays the dobro. Carol plays flute, piano, oboe, clarinet, saxophone and trumpet.

“The other kids play banjo, mandolin, guitar, acoustic bass, fiddle. One plays the musical saw,” Victor said. “I play trombone. I’m not coordinated enough to do bluegrass on the guitar. My fingers don’t move fast enough.”

Everyone sings, except for Carol and Seth’s baby, Joanna. “She’ll join in at rehearsals, when her mother hits the high notes,” Victor said.

They got their start in the 1990s, when Victor and Laurie organized a Monday night choir for home-schooled students. The group learned about 60 scripture choruses and started to perform occasionally, first at nursing homes and then at a local mall at Christmas. The choir disbanded as some of its members moved away, but the core of MacDonalds kept on singing. Laurie’s father, Jim Presti, was a district overseer for the Christian Church of North America, Victor said, and the family would often sing at events where he was preaching.

The family went on the road in 2002, when they bought a used bus for $2,500. They’ve been travelling ever since, doing a six-to-nine-week road trip in the fall and another in late winter. They still use the same bus, which has been modified to suit their needs.

“It has a kitchen with a full-size refrigerator,” Victor said. “It’s not exactly all the comforts of home, but it’s adequate. We used to sleep 11. Now we sleep eight and pull a little trailer.”

The children have all been home-schooled.

“Once the kids learn how to read, a lot of it is self-study,” Victor said.

The singers have made three CDs, which they distribute at their performances.

“We never charge for CDs,” Victor said. “We’ve given away more than 20,000 of them.”

Saturday’s concert starts at 7 p.m. The concert is free. Donations will be gladly accepted, but are not required.

“The Lord supplies our needs,” Victor said.

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