He attended the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is an instructor at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and the Mannes College of Music in New York City. McGill is one of the few African American musicians to hold a principal position in a major orchestra.
Along with Itzhak Perlman (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), and Gabriela Montero (piano), he recorded and performed "Air and Simple Gifts," composed by John Williams, for the inauguration of United States President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009. Although the music played was a recording made two days prior due to concerns over the cold weather damaging the instruments, the four were actually playing at the same time as the recording.
- George, Jason (2009-01-20). "Clarinetist delivers the day's other breakthrough performance". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on January 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- Peabody instructor part of Obama inauguration, Baltimore Sun, January 8, 2009
- Tommasini, Anthony (2009-01-20). "A New Williams Work for a Momentous Occasion". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- Quartet pre-recorded Obama music. BBC News (January 23, 2009).
- Seattle Symphony: The Orchestra