Donald McGinnis

Guest Conductor

Donald McGinnis
Donald E. McGinnis came to Ohio State University in 1941 as instructor of woodwinds and assistant director to Manley Whitcomb. In May 1942 McGinnis enlisted in the US Navy and was principal clarinet and featured soloist in a superior musical unit stationed at the USN Preflight School in Iowa City and assistant conductor of the chamber orchestra. Later he received a commission as Ensign and was appointed communications officer on the USS Lucidor (AF-45) with duty in the South Pacific. He was honorably discharged as Lt. JG in December 1945.

After nearly four years in the US Navy, McGinnis returned to Ohio State in 1946, served as acting director of the Concert Band in 1952-53, and was appointed to the position of director of the Concert Band commencing with the 1953-54 academic year. All told, Dr. McGinnis led the Concert Band for twenty-seven years, longer than anyone before or since.

It was during these years that the Concert Band, as it was now known exclusively, firmly established itself as a musical ensemble of unparalleled excellence. Dr. McGinnis established an enviable reputation across the country through performances at major meetings of the American Bandmasters Association, the College Band Directors National Association, the Music Educators National Conference (now NAfME), and the Ohio Music Education Association. In addition, Concert Band appearances at Carnegie Hall (1972) and at Lincoln Center (1968) were critically acclaimed.

From 1964 through 1979, the band recorded the music from the Ohio required and selected contest lists. Each year this was completed before Thanksgiving, and the recordings were invaluable to Ohio high school bands as they prepared for contest. In addition, the players in the band were given outstanding preparation for their future careers in conducting and teaching. This collection of more than forty recordings was distributed throughout Ohio and many other states, also in Japan, Sweden, Norway, and England. Highly praised recordings were available from the MENC Philadelphia concert (1964), Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center (1968), Carnegie Hall (1972), and MENC Atlantic City (1976). The Atlantic City concert “In the Grand Tradition of John Philip Sousa” was guided and narrated by Paul Bierley, noted historian and Sousa biographer. Other recordings were 30th Anniversary Concert, On the Lighter Side, March Masterpieces (with invaluable help from Bierley) and All-Persichetti (with the composer as guest conductor).

Assistant/associate conductors under Dr. McGinnis included Forrest Stoll (1952-1959), Charles Spohn (1959-1964), Richard Suddendorf (1964-1970), and Robert LeBlanc (1971-1979). Upon his retirement in 1979, Dr. McGinnis served as director of the School of Music until 1981. A plan is currently underway to name newly renovated School of Music rehearsal spaces for Dr. McGinnis, in recognition and gratitude for his passionate dedication to the Concert Band, the School of Music, and his students.