Former Principal Horn – Vienna Symphony Orchestra & Concentus Musicus Wien; Professor of Horn – University of Music & Performing Arts, Graz
Australian Hometown: Toowoomba
Education: Sydney Conservatorium of Music
With his impressive moustache and equally eye-catching eyebrows, Hector McDonald – yogi and strict vegetarian – is one of Australia’s most accomplished brass players.
Born in the country New South Wales town of Toowomba into a ‘non-musical’ family, Hector’s first experience of music came at the age of nine, when his older brothers dragged him along to the Blue Mountains Brass Band in Katoomba. He was given a tenor horn and immediately fell in love with the brass sound. Later he moved to the euphonium, then trombone.
At seventeen, he found himself in personal circumstances which required him to earn a salary, so he signed up for the Air Force Band. On his first day in his new job he was handed a French Horn and told he had a day to learn to play it. His daughter arrived soon after.
He then was offered a job with the ABC training orchestra, before winning a position with the Elizabethan Trust Orchestra, and performed at the opening of the Sydney Opera House on a windy day in October 1973 – conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras, patron of the AWO.
In 1975, Hector was invited to study in Berlin by horn player Herman Bauman. He took leave from his orchestra job in Sydney and moved to Germany with his wife and young daughter…never to return to Australia. By February 1976 he won a job with the Berlin Philharmonic, just as his second daughter was born.
Since then he has worked with the Berlin Radio Orchestra and for the past 24 years has played Principal Horn with both the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and period instrument group Concentus Musicus, Wien.
Hector has been a soloist with leading orchestras all over the world – in Europe, Britain, the USA, Japan, South-East Asia and Australia. He’s considered one of the world’s leading exponents of all the members of the horn family and performs regularly as soloist on the Baroque Horn, the Classical or Natural Horn, the Vienna Horn and the modern Double Horn. Hector has a collection of over 50 instruments stashed in his Vienna flat.
Despite having been away from Australia for over 25 years, Hector still feels Australian. He follows Australian politics and subscribes to Crikey and the Australian Geographic. He listens to ABC Radio regularly and follows Australian Cricket, Rugby and Soccer. ‘I don’t miss Australia but whenever I’m there I am very reluctant to return back overseas.’
For Hector, the AWO is ‘ a truly unique idea. I’m delighted to be part of it & think it deserves all the support one can muster. I found the experience a real highlight both musically & socially. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.’
Last updated 2018