DON HARRIS BRINSON
Don Harris Brinson was born in Gorman, TX, April 3rd, 1938 to Edgar and Edyth Brinson. His early years were spent with his parents and older brother, Clyde, on a farm near De Leon, where the main products were peanuts, watermelons and cattle. The family later moved to De Leon where they owned and operated the local movie theatres. Harris had a lot of friends during his high school days in De Leon because they knew if they were friends with him, they could go to the movies free. Harris graduated from De Leon High in 1956.
Harris's interest in band began in elementary school where he was a cornet player. He wanted to play trombone, to follow in his brother's footsteps, but the band director, Harold Dorsey, needed cornet players more. Harris has always been happy with that decision. From elementary through high school Harris had four band directors. During Harris's junior year, a new director, Earnest Repass, from TCU, became director. He was truly outstanding and was a real inspiration to the band and greatly influenced Harris with his decision to become a band director.
Harris entered Texas Christian University in 1956 as a music education major and played in Jim Jacobsen's Band. This was a real eye opener for him, finding out that there were trumpet players that really played well and most all of them could play all their scales. He only learned three in De Leon. After one year at TCU he decided that music might not be the career that he wanted. So, the following fall he entered the University of Texas as a pre-med major. He found this to be of little interest and after two months dropped out of school and returned to De Leon to find a job. He hired on with a trucking company and spent the next year driving 18 wheelers all over the US and into Canada and Mexico. After this maturing period Harris knew that he did want to return to college and to become a band director.
Instead of returning to TCU, he enrolled at West Texas State College in Canyon where Ted Craiger was the new band director. During his student years at West Texas, he played trumpet in the various instrumental ensembles and was drum major of the WT marching band. He played trumpet in the Amarillo Symphony, under the direction of A. Clyde Roller and was a member of the WT Choir, under the direction of Houston Bright.
During his second year at WT, Harris met Dorothy Pakan, a bass clarinet player and a piano/organ major from McLean, TX. They were married on August 26, 1961, during his senior year. After graduation in 1962, Harris was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army and served two years on active duty. Part of his tour was in Berlin during the building of the wall between West and East Berlin. Also, during this time their son, Zachary, was born.
After completing his military duty in 1964, Harris became the band director at Pampa Junior High, a position he kept for one and 1/2 years. He became the director of the Pampa High School Band in January of 1966, replacing Fred Stockdale. Adding to the excitement of a new job was the birth of their daughter, Jennifer. During this time, Harris had the opportunity to study with Gary Garner at WTSU and earned a Master of Arts degree in 1969.
During his years as director, the Pampa High band received many awards. Among these were: Outstanding Marching Band at the Tri-State Music Festival in Enid, Oklahoma in 1966, 1967, and 1968 and Grand Sweepstakes Winner in 1969, Nationally televised halftime performances during the Los Angeles Rams game in 1968 and two weeks later in New York for the American League Championship Game. The band performed at the Mid West Clinic in Chicago in 1970 and was the Outstanding Band in Class at the Six Flags over Georgia Festival in 1973.
In 1974, Harris was named Director of Bands at Angelo State University, a position he held until his retirement in 1997. During his tenure at ASU, the band program developed into one of the finest concert and marching band programs in the state. Included in the many performances were two concerts at the TMEA Convention. Harris started the ASU Band Camp in 1975 and served as camp director for twenty-three years. During this time, it became one of the largest and most successful camps in the country. The Camp Director's Band performed three times under his direction at TBA Conventions. Harris started the San Angelo Community Band and served as conductor for thirteen years. Upon his retirement in 1997, he was awarded the title of Director of Bands Emeritus, one of the first two emeritus awards ever given by the university. In 2001 he was recognized as an ASU Outstanding "Retired Faculty" member.
Other honors include: Serving as President of TBA in 1988, President of Alpha Chapter, Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity, and President and Vice President of Phi Beta Mu International. He is a charter member of the Texas Music Adjudicators Association and an elected member of the prestigious American Bandmaster Association. He was named Texas Bandmaster of the Year in 2001.
Since retiring, Harris has been associated with Stanbury Band Uniforms as a Regional Manager. In addition to the uniform business, his company H B Enterprises, provides accessories for bands and other musical groups throughout the state.
Harris is very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be part of such a rewarding profession and is extremely grateful to his wife, Dorothy, for all of her love, unselfishness, and support for the past 43 years. To have two wonderful children that have beautiful families makes him realize how fortunate he is and that he truly does have a "Sweepstakes Family".
Harris is extremely honored to be included in the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame.