Conductor, performer, composer, and educator, Donald E. McGinnis (1917-2016), directed the Ohio State University Concert Band from 1952 to 1979. Dr. McGinnis donated a large collection of approximately 250 reel-to-reel tape recordings of OSU band performances to the OSU Music & Dance Library, and these are being cataloged and digitized in phases. Anyone with a currently active OSU user name will soon be able to request listening access to digitized recordings. Please contact the Music & Dance Library for more information about the collection.
Born in Barberton, Ohio, to Samuel and Ruth McGinnis, Donald McGinnis was an avid fan of collegiate sports and an enthusiastic supporter of the Ohio State football and basketball teams. His love of sports was eclipsed by his lifelong devotion to music. As a child, his prowess in clarinet led to his being the first seventh-grader to be accepted as a member of the Medina County Band. In high school he was a member of the band, orchestra, glee club, and jazz ensemble, and in his senior year was a guard on the varsity football team. He was a member of the National Honor Society. McGinnis received undergraduate degrees in clarinet performance and music education from Oberlin College, and, from the University of Iowa, his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in music theory and composition. His dissertation was his own composition Symphony for Band, later published.
In 1941, he began a forty-year career at Ohio State which was interrupted by his enlistment in the United States Navy. During the war, he received a commission and served as the Communication Officer on the USS Lucidor in the South Pacific, achieving the rank of Lieutenant junior grade. At Ohio State after the war, McGinnis became the conductor of the Concert Band. Under his leadership, the Concert Band earned national and international recognition with performances in such venues as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Outside the School of Music, he was the principal clarinetist of the Columbus Symphony for two years, and the principal flutist for ten years. After retiring from Ohio State, he variously served as interim conductor of the Capital University Wind Ensemble and Columbus Youth Wind Ensemble, as conductor of the Southeastern Symphony Orchestra in New Concord, Ohio, and as interim band director at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Dr. McGinnis was a member of the Columbus Senior Musicians Hall of Fame, and an Honorary Member of Phi Beta Mu and Tau Beta Sigma. He received the Distinguished Service to Music Award from Kappa Kappa Psi, and the God and Country Award from the Salvation Army. He was a member of the American Bandmasters Association and served as president of that association before being named an Honorary Life President.