Michael McNamara, known to his students as "Mr. Mac" or even just "Mac" began his career as a musician at the age of 15 years old. He taught himself to play the guitar from books and learning songs by ear throughout high school, then majored in Jazz Performance on guitar at Providence College. Returning to school in 2002, Mr. Mac took the necessary credits to become a certified teacher. He taught full time guitar lessons for 5 years from 2000-2005 and also taught general music at a K-8 private school in Barrington, RI.
In 2006, Mr. Mac began working at East Ridge and Scotts Ridge Middle Schools as the middle school orchestra director. There he founded the district wide Symphonic Orchestra, which began winning awards since its inception in 2009. The group consists of over 100 string and wind musicians and performed many staple symphonic works that were only very slightly arranged by Mr. Mac himself, including the opening movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, Egmont Overture, Allegretto from Beethoven's 7th Symphony, the Earl of Oxford's Marchby Gordon Jacob, Russian Sailor's Dance, and Marche Slave by Tchaikovsky.
After 6 years at the middle schools, Mr. Mac moved to Ridgefield High School where he directs the Symphonic Orchestra, Concert Band and its sister class Percussion and Jazz Band ensembles. The orchestra had not been a full symphonic orchestra with winds in over 20 years. Their inaugural concert under Mr. Mac's direction included a performance of the entire Symphony No. 5 by Beethoven. Since then the orchestra has performed all unarranged material such as Danse Macabre and Bacchanale by Saint-Saens, the finale movements of both Dvorak's 8th and 9th Symphonies, Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, and the finale movement to Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. In April 2014, the orchestra was selected to participate at the All State Festival as an Honors Ensemble...one of the highest honors a school group can achieve.
Mr. Mac has also helped to grow the band program significantly with the help of middle school Band Directors Hilary Brown and Andrew Clavi. While the band is largely comprised of underclassmen thanks to vigorous recruiting efforts and the growing reputation of the program, the Concert Band performs some of the most difficult music available to a group at this level. The Jazz Band has also performed some really difficult arrangements, and also themselves have been heavily trained in improvisation. The Jazz Band also arranges some of its own pieces. The band's development has prompted Mr. Mac to seek out some competitive opportunities.
As a performer, Mr. Mac is a member of Relative Souls, an original Bridgeport based funk-rock fusion band that plays all over New England on the club and festival circuit. Through his performance network, he has been able to bring in several musicians and conductors for master classes for the instrumental students at RHS.
Mr. Mac lives in Bridgeport, CT with his wife and two kids, Julie and James.