A Real Band Leader
By Sylvia Cushman
[Courtesy of N.Y. Times]
Hampton Union & Rockingham County Gazette, July 23, 1925
Harold McDonnell and his orchestra, pictured here in an unknown location (not Hampton). Harold is likely standing at far right, and perhaps with his father to his right. [Photo not in original newspaper article.]
There is at Hampton Beach a young man who has been there five weeks and has only been in bathing twice. To his many friends he is just "Mac"; on the program of the Band Concerts he is Harold L. McDonnell, Conductor of McDonnell's Band.
Harold L. is a very energetic and deserving young man. He is only 27, but leads his band with the aplomb and assurance born of experience.
When he came up the steps of my hotel the other day he looked very much like a little boy who felt a special grudge against the world because he did not have time to go bathing; a few minutes later he was talking music, directorship, tempos, Schubert and ragtime with much conviction.
He was born in Lawrence, Mass., February 15th, 1898, and went into the theatre as a Junior from High School, much against his father's wishes who wanted his son to go to college. He played the clarinet in Sousa's Band for a year and a half and was Asst. Bandmaster at Commonwealth Pier, Boston for 13 months. In the winter he plays at the Empire Theatre in Lawrence, besides teaching 54 pupils and dabbling in real estate. This is his twelfth season at Hampton Beach; as a boy he played for George Ashworth at the Ashworth Hotel, "In those days," said Mr. McDonnell, "I lived in a tent with my father and mother."
His father, Stephen McDonnell, plays the clarinet in the band his son directs and "Mac" jokingly tells that this is the first time he could ever make his father do as he wants him to.
He told me, with great pride, that his father and mother were very young looking and that his father was often taken for an older brother. He is very quick to praise and generous with his associates, those sitting near the bandstand have often heard him say "Very good, gentlemen," to the rest of the players at the conclusion of a piece.
Mr. McDonnell enjoys the Monday night concerts in Hampton village and greatly appreciates the enthusiasm which the Hampton people display. His library consists of 4,000 numbers and he is always ready and willing to play requests.
As yet he is quite unspoiled by the plaudits of the crowd; it would be an easy thing for so young a man to have his head turned by the praise Harold McDonnell has received, but I personally believe that there are too many brains in that head, to have it thus affected and that he will always be the clean, manly and successful fellow he is today.