Donald Coakley a native of Cambridge, Ontario. was, for twenty-three years the Assistant Co-ordinator of Music for the Scarborough Board of Education. As such, he was primarily responsible for the development of the instrumental music programme in the Scarborough School System. His musical education took place in the United States; he holds the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York, in Potsdam, New York; Master of Education with a concentration in Music Education from the Esther Boyer College of Music at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Master of Music in Composition and Performance from the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. In the latter instance, Mr. Coakley was a composition student of the American composer Vincent Persichetti. As an undergraduate, he was the recipient of two Presser Foundation Scholarships, and was a nominee for a Woodrow Wilson
Fellowship. Following his years with the Scarborough Board of Education, Donald Coakley taught in the Music Department at York University, resigning from that position in 2000.
Many of his compositions reflect his committment to music education, and are directed toward the capabilities of student ensembles on the elementary, secondary, and university levels. Mr. Coakley has received numerous commissions from performing organizations in both Canada, and the United States. He is represented by publishers in both countries.
All traditional performing media are reflected in the Coakley catalogue; concert band, full orchestra, string orchestra, chamber ensembles, and choir. Lyric Essay for band has been recorded by the Edmonton Wind Ensemble, and the University of Calgary Wind Ensemble. Vive La Canadienne has been recorded by the University of Toronto Concert Band. Rattle On The Stovepipe, the last movement of a three movement folksong set for SATB choir was recorded by the Ammabile Chamber Choir. Another choral work, Three Nativities, was one of four scores, from over two hundred submissions, selected by Melodius Accord for performance in New York, in December 1992, under the direction of Alice Parker.
In 1977, Mr. Coakley received the Distinguished Service to Public Education Award from the State University of New York. In 2002, Phi Beta Mu, the international bandmaster's fraternity, awarded him a citation for his committment to music education, and to the development of concert band music in Canada.
As well as being an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre, Donald Coakley is a member of the Canadian League of Composers, and the Society of Composers Authors and Music Publishers of Canada.