Biography | Daniel McCarthy


(long biography: personal and professional life)     wikipedia (English)    ~    wikipedia (Dutch)

(click here for short biography: professional only)

Daniel McCarthy (b. 1955, Onekama, Michigan) is Professor and Chair of The Composition and Theory Section at The University of Akron School of Music.  He formerly held the Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Creative/Research Award at The Indiana State University School of Music where he was Co-director of The ISU Contemporary Music Festival with The Louisville Orchestra. U.S.A. Today describes his music as "intriguing, inviting, shimmering..." while The Cleveland Plain Dealer has written that his music is "Colorful, infectious and touching--."  His music has been described as "Contemporary in the best sense of the word" by The Music Connoisseur magazine, and 21st Century Music Magazine proclaims his music to be "Sassy, foreboding, refreshing and kicky--it's called style."


His music is recorded on Albany, Centaur, d'Note Classics, Gasparo, and Klavier Records (among others) and over 100 of his titles are published with C. Alan Publications.  His repertoire is performed and recorded by The Harrington String Quartet, The Avalon String Quartet, and Arianna String Quartet, Eugene Corporon and The North Texas Wind Symphony, The Brevard Festival Orchestra, The Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra, The World Youth Symphony Orchestra (Interlochen), The Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, The Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, The Naples Symphony Orchestra, The Nashville Symphony Orchestra, The Akron Symphony Orchestra, Rhythm & Brass®, and The United States Marine Corps. Bands (DC) The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, and more.

McCarthy's music has been awarded The American Prize for Orchestral and Chamber Music (Professional Division), The Harvey Phillips Excellence in Composition Award (Indiana University), The Sackler Award, The New Generations Orchestral Commission, International New Music Consortium Award (New York University), The Pianissimo Piano Composition Prize (Belgrade), OMEA Composer of the Year, The Connie Weldon Prize, a National Arts Endowment Grant, seven Artist Excellence Awards from The Ohio Arts Council, two Artist Excellence Awards from The Indiana Arts Commission, five awards from The Indiana State University Arts Endowment, two Faculty Research Grants from the University of Akron, and a Life Time Achievement Citation from The Michigan State Legislature.

In 2013, Daniel joined Ralph Turek in co-authorship of the comprehensive theory text, "THEORY FOR TODAY'S MUSICIAN,"  (Rutledge).  He continues to pursue his interest as a conductor, directing concerts of new music with The Akron New Music Ensemble and other groups.  He formerly was conductor of The Interlochen Festival Orchestra, The Cleveland Chamber Symphony (Young and Emerging Composer's Concerts), and The Terre Haute Symphony Youth Orchestra.  Beside a passion for music, Daniel's other life occupation is for Black-belt martial arts.  He is an advanced Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and Asian Weapons, studying with GrandMaster Jeon Gyeong Ho in Fairlawn, Ohio.  Daniel also studies Kenpo and Chin Na with Sifu James Adkins at White Tiger Shaolin Temple Project in Traverse City, Michigan.

He is founder of the Midwest Composers' Forum in Indiana, The Interlochen Composer's Institute in Michigan, and served as President of the Cleveland Composers Guild.  Daniel has been Instructor of Composition at the Interlochen Arts Camp and has served as music Conductor of the Interlochen Festival Orchestra, The Cleveland Chamber Symphony, The Terre Haute Symphony Youth Orchestra, The University of Akron Symphony Orchestra, and The Akron New Music Ensemble.  McCarthy has held positions as Visiting Scholar Freie Universität Berlin, The University of Michigan, and The Ohio University School of Music.


Daniel McCarthy (b. 1955,) was born in Onekama, in northwest Michigan's lower penninsula to a musical family with three brothers.  His father was a pioneer in the field of podiatric dermitology/cytology and a surgeon, scholar, and professor of podiatric medicine.  His mother was a classically trained singer who dedicated her life to raising her four sons.

Daniel studied piano, violin, trumpet, and organ in his pre-teen years in Bay City, Michigan.  He later attended The Interlochen Arts Academy for his college preparatory years where he studied trumpet and piano, and played in the Academy orchestra, wind ensemble, studio orchestra (jazz band) and sang in the choir.  His childhood desire was to become a symphony trumpet player, but he also pursued playing in numerous rock bands during his high school days at Interlochen.

He spent his undergraduate years at Hiram College, Northern Illinois University, Eastern Michigan University, and Kent State University.  He graduated from Kent State University in 1978 with a Bachelor's degree in Music Theory.  

McCarthy spent the next four years after graduation writing and arranging music for commercial recording sessions, including radio/television "jingles" and horn and string arrangements for rock and dance groups in the Cleveland area.  He made his living primarily as a studio and club trumpet player, also playing "lead" trumpet with several "big bands."  His experience as a composer, up to this time, was writing for jazz ensemble and arranging "post-production" music commercially.

After four years in the commercial music world, Daniel wanted to return to his roots in classical music.  He turned to contemporary concert art music and began composing.  He received his Master's degree in Music Composition from The University of Akron School of Music in 1982 and completed his Ph.D. in Composition and Theory from Kent State University in three years.

Although he was a relative "late-comer" to composition, Daniel drove himself very hard.  In his early years as a professor of music, he held a position as Assistant Professor of Music at Lakeland College in the Cleveland area where he taught music theory and was director of The Lakeland Jazz Orchestra.  His music began to win awards and his publishing career was launched.  In 1991, he joined the music faculty at The Indiana State University School of Music where he became co-director of ISU's Contemporary Music Festival with resident ensemble The Louisville Orchestra.  He became so prolific with publications and awards for his music that he received The Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research/Creativity Professor Award from the university.  While at Indiana, McCarthy was appointed Visiting Associate Professor of Composition at DePauw University School of Music and Instructor of Composition at The Interlochen Center for the Arts Summer Arts Camp.  He founded and directed The Midwest Composer's Forum, and became Chair of Society of Composer's Region V.

In the fall of 2000, McCarthy accepted an offer to fill the vacancy of his former thesis advisor, and thus became Professor and Chair of the Composition and Theory Section at The University of Akron School of Music.  At Akron, he founded and directed The Akron New Music Festival and The Akron New Music Ensemble.  He was also appointed President of The Cleveland Composer's Guild, and founded The Interlochen Composer's Institute at The Interlochen Center for the Arts.  During his first sabbatical, he was appointed Visiting Scholar at The University of Michigan and Ohio University School's of Music.  McCarthy would frequently appear as a guest composer at other universities and festivals including The Brevard Music Festival, The Freie Universität Berlin, Michigan State University, James Madison University, Illinois State University, Heidelberg University,  and others.

Daniel McCarthy  ~  Composer,  Author,  Conductor,  Martial Artist