Kevin McMahon studied orchestral, choral, and opera conducting at the University of Michigan with Gustav Meier, Carl St. Clair, Thomas Hilbish, Leo Najar, and H. Robert Reynolds and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with David E. Becker, James Smith, Beverly Taylor and William Farlow. McMahon’s musical mentors include Margaret Hillis, Elizabeth A. H. Green, Gunther Schuller, and Maurice Abravanel. As part of the New York Philharmonic Symposium he worked with Erich Leinsdorf. From 1985-1988, the Michigan-born McMahon was music director and conductor of the National Arts Chamber Orchestra, and from 1989-1994 the head conductor for the Lincoln Opera of Chicago. In 1995 he was appointed resident conductor of the Rome Festival (Italy), allowing him to lead numerous concerts, operas, and ballets in his ten-year term there. Kevin McMahon was music director of the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra from 1995-2008. McMahon began his work as Music Director and Conductor for the Wheaton Symphony Orchestra in 2008. From 1999 he has served as artistic director and conductor of the Maud Powell Music Festival. From 2005 to 2021 McMahon served as associate conductor of the New York Repertory Orchestra in New York City. From 2010-2020 McMahon served as Music Director and Conductor of the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra.
In the United States he has led orchestras in Chicago, Spokane, Tampa, Elgin, South Bend, Cleveland, Madison, Marquette, Washington D. C., Wheaton, Ann Arbor, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Evanston and Milwaukee to name a few. Furthermore, he has conducted orchestras internationally in Germany, Czech Republik, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Italy.
In addition to his orchestra work, Kevin McMahon has devoted his life to opera. His most significant projects in recent years include new productions of his own operas Maud Powell-Queen of Violinists and Marilyn Monroe at the Maud Powell Music Festival, Hansel and Gretel at the same festival, and The Consul at Chamber Opera Chicago. He worked at opera and ballet houses in Chicago, Atlanta, and South Bend as a guest conductor.
As conductor, Kevin McMahon strongly supports contemporary music leading a number of European premieres, United States premieres, and eighty-two world premieres of stage and concert works.
Among the many awards Kevin McMahon has received, the most prestigious was the Collins Wisconsin Distinguished Fellowship enabling him to pursue and earn a Doctor of Musical Arts.