Donna Higgins

This page gives us an opportunity to introduce one of our members “up close and personal”. Our featured player this month is Donna Higgins, alto clarinet.

higginsDonna grew up in the Paoli area and graduated from Great Valley High School. The GV schools started instrumental music in the fourth grade, and her first choice was the baritone horn. That lasted for a week, during which she was unable to produce a single sound.

She then switched to clarinet, although she might have chosen differently if she had realized how large the clarinet family is, and how many of them she would end up owning (seven at last count).

In 7th grade, at the now-defunct General Wayne Junior High School, her band teacher suggested that she start playing bassoon, so for the next six years she played bassoon in concert band and orchestra and clarinet in marching band.

After graduation, she gave up music, which is something she regrets now. “I had no idea there were so many opportunities for adult amateur musicians. I thought you either majored in music, which I knew I didn’t want to do, or you put the instrument away on a shelf in your closet and got on with the rest of your life.”

At Penn State, Donna was on the staff of the student newspaper, the Daily Collegian, and competed as a member of the university’s equestrian team. She spent a semester at Tel Aviv University in Israel and visited Egypt, Greece and Italy during that time. She graduated with a major in political science and a minor in Middle East studies and now works for Westlaw, a large legal publisher owned by ThomsonReuters.

After a few years of life in the real world, she realized she missed playing music, and she started taking lessons with a teacher at Immaculata College. She had no intention of playing anywhere except her own living room, but the teacher suggested she join the orchestra at the college, and she played there for 15 years.

Donna also discovered that once you get on one band or orchestra’s personnel list, the calls start coming in from all over. In addition to MCCB, she now plays regularly with the Delaware County Symphony, the Merion Concert Band and the Upper Darby Sousa Band. She has also played at various times for the Main Line Symphony, Old York Road Symphony, Abington Symphony, Newark (Del.) Symphony, Rose Tree Pops, Chester County Pops, Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Chester County, the West Chester Band, and the Marple Community Band.

Donna is MCCB’s official photographer, taking photos at rehearsals and concerts for posting on the band’s web site. She has always enjoyed taking pictures, but didn’t get into photography as a serious hobby until about two and a half years ago. Her favorite subjects are wildlife, landscapes and anything nature-related. She shares her pictures with family and friends at “I’m in my third year of doing a 365 project, which means taking a photo every single day for a whole year. I originally intended to do it for one year and then stop, but it was so much fun, and my photography improved so much that I decided to continue.”

Photography has re-awakened her interest in travel, and she is planning a three-week trip to South America in late December and early January for a nature photography workshop.

In addition to music and photography, she enjoys bike riding, hiking, cooking, and spoiling her two cats.

MCCB personal director Don Kline says of Donna: “Donna is an excellent example of a person with diversified interests and vocations, who values the benefits of participating in musical organizations. She is proof that studying music in school isn’t just a “club”, but music is an academic subject area that relates directly to other interests. She also is a tremendous asset to MCCB.”