Born into a musical family, Donald came by his love for Celtic music naturally. His mother, Mary Frances MacPhee was a well known and respected pianist and his father, Donald Edward enjoyed the music and was a beautiful dancer. Donald was given formal lessons as a youngster, but naturally preferred playing the music he liked, particularly strathspeys, jigs and reels. His first public appearances were with the St. Finnan’s Orchestra.
Donald left Glengarry in the late ’50s and played only when he returned home; however, his interest in the fiddle never waned. When he and his wife, Ann returned “home” in 1974, with the encouragement of his cousin, Allan MacPhail, he was a founding member of the Glengarry Strathspey and Reel Society and began to play on a very regular basis. However, he came into his real niche when he was asked to “fill in for a few weeks” teaching the fiddle to adults at night at G.D.H.S. That was approximately twenty years ago and since then he has taught the Celtic fiddle two nights a week from October to April to students ranging in age from twelve to seventy.
As one of his students said, “He constantly promotes Celtic cultural events on email, encouraging all to participate. He excels as a teacher … His love of the fiddle and the music inspires his students to learn.” In addition to his teaching, Donald continues to play with the Glengarry Strathspey & Reel Society and the Lochiel Strings at concerts, dances, nursing homes, weddings and funerals.
Donald Joseph has passed his love of music on to his daughter, Mary Beth, who played with the grade IV and II Glengarry Pipe Bands and continues to play Celtic music in her spare time on the piano.