RISING STAR: Gayndah 10-year-old Donald MacGregor won a slew of awards at this year's Maryborough Eisteddfod and has received a scholarship at attend school in Mackay next year. Photo: Contributed
RISING STAR: Gayndah 10-year-old Donald MacGregor won a slew of awards at this year's Maryborough Eisteddfod and has received a scholarship at attend school in Mackay next year. Photo: Contributed

Musical prodigy offered prestigious scholarship

A 10-YEAR-OLD musical prodigy from Gayndah has completed a year to remember, being offered a scholarship to a prestigious central Queensland school.

Multi-instrumentalist Donald MacGregor, who is in Year 5 at St Joseph’s Catholic School, where he plays lead guitar in a band, Mr Percival, with three other classmates, will attend Mackay Christian College next year on an academic and music scholarship, recognising his prowess with the violin.

In Mackay, he will also have the chance to further his development at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

Donald MacGregor practising piano with music teacher Meg Cunningham. Photo: Contributed
Donald MacGregor practising piano with music teacher Meg Cunningham. Photo: Contributed

It comes after Donald won the Most Outstanding Instrument – 15 years and under Award at this year’s Maryborough Eisteddfod in August, the third consecutive year has claimed the prize.

He also won the Piano Trophy Award – 12 years and under, placed first in seven sections (including two at the 18 years and under level), first in a violin section and third in a cello section, showing his versatility.

Donald’s music teacher Meg Cunningham, who has taught the young star since age four, said her student studied exceptionally difficult compositions: Bach’s preludes and fugues.

“It is a contrapuntal (having a counterpoint by playing two melodies at once with both hands) composition technique in two or more voices built on a subject and occurs frequently in a piece,” she said.

Donald MacGregor performing at this year's Maryborough Eisteddfod. Photo: Contributed
Donald MacGregor performing at this year's Maryborough Eisteddfod. Photo: Contributed

“The musician has to realise where the subject and answer are and let them be heard over all other notes.”

Mum Tomoko said her son was stressed learning the technique initially, but he “never gave up”.

“After learning the fugues, he could play other music easily,” she said.

“He is amazed by Bach’s work.”

His talents have allowed him to achieve startling grades under the Australian Music Examination Board system: he is at Grade 6 for piano, Grade 4 for cello and Grade 3 for violin (grades go up to eight).

Donald lends his musical talents widely to the North Burnett community.

Aside from his regular performances with Mr Percival, he also plays the hymns at St Matthew’s Anglican Church in Gayndah each Sunday on his violin, and performs Christmas carols at Gunther Village and Coonambula Lodge in Mundubbera annually.

His musical journey started at age four, when he watched a performance from a Brisbane brass band.

Father Bevan said his son admired the boy playing the drum.

“He asked me to learn the drums,” Bevan said.

“But I told him piano first, because you need a solid basic skill.”


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