Donald McGinnis

Mershon Auditorium on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio hosts performances of Concerts @Ohio State.(Photo: OZinOH)
Mershon Auditorium on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio hosts performances of Concerts @Ohio State.(Photo: OZinOH)

Concerts@Ohio State, featuring performances by the students and faculty of the School of Music at The Ohio State University, begins its third season on the air Sunday, January 2nd at 3 p.m.

I was in a meeting with The Ohio State University (OSU) School of Music faculty a few weeks ago planning the new season of Concerts@Ohio State.

We discussed which concerts should air; we worked on a mix between choral, glee clubs, concert bands, orchestras and chamber ensembles; and we discussed repertoire. “This specialized stuff is very nice,” I opined, “but give me a dollop of Mozart and Brahms, too. Okay?”

Donald McGinnis

And then the name Donald McGinnis came up. It was a name I didn’t know, but it was spoken with affection and respect by the room. “You should go talk to Don McGinnis,” I was told.

Donald McGinnis came to OSU in 1941 as instructor in woodwinds and an assistant director of the marching a concert bands. He served in the Navy during World War II and returned to campus in 1946. He was eventually named director of bands and he became the key music faculty member until his retirement in 1979.

Kathy Jones, professor of flute, was brought to OSU by Don McGinnis. As she describes him: “He put our school on the map and took it to national prominence. He made the OSU concert band one of the top in the country.”

A few weeks ago Kathy took me out to meet Dr. McGinnis at his home in Hilliard.

At 93, he maintains a private studio teaching wind instruments at home. He was sharp, funny and clear. I recorded two hours of our conversation, filled with gratitude and love for music, for students and for OSU.

He got emotional when speaking of his wife, a vigorous 87 year old lady whom he worries is “slowing down.” “Donald.” said Kathy, “you’ve been saying that for twenty years. Right now she’s in the kitchen, making coffee.”

Professor McGinnis talked at length about Pierre Monteux, Evan Whallon, Percy Grainger, and the early days of the Columbus Symphony. He remembered growing up in Ohio and spoke movingly of teaching himself to play the clarinet when he was a young boy.

My conversation with Donald McGinnis, plus performances of his symphony and several of his other compositions will be heard during the new season of Concerts@Ohio State. Please join us, Sunday afternoons at 3 beginning January 2nd.

Comments
  • Frank Hudson

    Looking forward to this! The man has had a truly inspiring career in education, not to mention his superlative accomplishments as a musician. One of the reasons I revere Stephen Sondheim — apart from his greatness as a composer/lyricist — is that he understands and often repeats that “teaching is a sacred profession.” …I just hope these interviews and video clips will be available on the internet, for those of us who don’t live in Columbus.

  • Frank Hudson

    Looking forward to this! The man has had a truly inspiring career in education, not to mention his superlative accomplishments as a musician. One of the reasons I revere Stephen Sondheim — apart from his greatness as a composer/lyricist — is that he understands and often repeats that “teaching is a sacred profession.” …I just hope these interviews and video clips will be available on the internet, for those of us who don’t live in Columbus.

  • Donna (Crumley) Woker

    Dr. McGinnis is a great musician, an amazing conductor, a brilliant teacher, and a true gentleman. I am so sad that Mr. Purdy had not heard of him before this. He is truly one of the great treasures of central Ohio and we are so lucky to have him here.

  • Donna (Crumley) Woker

    Dr. McGinnis is a great musician, an amazing conductor, a brilliant teacher, and a true gentleman. I am so sad that Mr. Purdy had not heard of him before this. He is truly one of the great treasures of central Ohio and we are so lucky to have him here.

  • Dave Beal

    I took clarinet lessons from Dr. McGinnis when I was in high school in the early ’70s. He was an excellent musician and a wonderful teacher; my playing improved greatly in only two years. He was only five years from retirement from OSU at the time, so it’s great news to hear that he’s still giving young music students the benefit of his skills. Please make your conversations with him available on your website!

  • Dave Beal

    I took clarinet lessons from Dr. McGinnis when I was in high school in the early ’70s. He was an excellent musician and a wonderful teacher; my playing improved greatly in only two years. He was only five years from retirement from OSU at the time, so it’s great news to hear that he’s still giving young music students the benefit of his skills. Please make your conversations with him available on your website!