Donal Bannister was born and bred in Dublin, and comes from a family of brass players, his grandfather founded the first British style brass band in the Irish Republic and his brother is a trumpet player in the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. He started out as a brass band euphonium player but took up the trombone at the age of 14 and soon joined the Irish National Youth Orchestra.
He studied at Trinity College Dublin taking a B.A., followed by a year of trombone study on scholarship at the Eastman School of Music, New York. Whilst at Trinity he developed an interest in 18th century music and on returning to Ireland he embarked on postgraduate work back at Trinity into some of Haydn’s music. In 1980 he won the RTE Musician of the Future competition, Ireland’s version of the Young Musician of the Year.
In 1987, as the money was running out for the Haydn research, a friend spotted the advert for second trombone in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and, never previously having considered a move to England, Donal decided to apply and got the job in spite of his interest in Haydn (such things don’t have much street cred in brass circles).
He is now Principal Trombone with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
His interests include wine (and Georgian houses with cellars), drawing and painting, gardening, and shouting at the computer.