San Francisco Opera Orchestra's Principal Trombonist McDowell "Mac" Kenley was born in Berwyn, Illinois. He grew up in Albuquerque New Mexico and graduated from the University of New Mexico (Pi Kappa Lambda). Mac spent summers attending the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood and the performing with the Santa Fe Opera. After moving to New York City, where he completed graduate degrees at The Juilliard School and New York University, he began playing with "Doc" Severinsen's Now Generation Brass in 1970, and eventually, the Tonight Show Orchestra.
In 1969 Mac met Jacquelyn Benson, a lyric coloratura soprano who was then singing with the American Opera Center in New York. Jacquelyn sang with Western Opera Theater, and appeared in comprimaria roles with San Francisco Opera. In 1975 they moved to Dortmund, Germany. Mr. Kenley joined the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in 1977. Mac and Jacky returned to San Francisco full time in 1982. They have three children: John, a graduate of the University of California at Davis; Susannah, a graduate of Loyola New Orleans; and Laura.
In 1993 Mr. Kenley completed the Doctorate of Musical Arts at Stanford University, and has been Chapter Administrator of the Northern California chapter of the American Musicological Society. He is now lecturer in trombone at Stanford, and has recently been performing with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Mac enjoys skiing and bicycling, and a second home in Santa Fe New Mexico.