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Not so old MacDonald to celebrate 50 years being a top-man

One of the UKs most respected principal cornet players will celebrate half a century of banding with a concert in his honour this weekend

  Andy MacDonald has enjoyed 50 years in banding

One of the most respected 'top-men' in UK banding is set to celebrate 50 years in banding this Sunday (20th May) by being the guest soloist in a concert in his honour.

Andy MacDonald has been principal cornet of the Wingates Band since 1999, but first started his half century of playing at the age of six at the now defunct Prescot Band near St Helens.

Leading players

Since then he has established himself as one of the leading principal cornet players of his generation, with widespread experience of performing with many of the finest bands in the country.

The concert will take place on Sunday 20th May at the Pyramid Studio Theatre in Warrington (WA1 1BL) at 6.00pm, where Wingates Band will be joined by many of Andy's musical friends, such as Andrew Berryman, former principal trombone of the Halle Orchestra and euphonium virtuoso Gary Curtin.

Andy will be the guest of honour, and will play a number of his favourite solos with the band he has led with such distinction for nearly 20 years.

Sheer enjoyment

Looking back on his half century Andy told 4BR: "I can't quite believe it. It's been 50 years of sheer enjoyment that has past so quickly.

I was lucky to come from a brass band family with my dad playing for Black Dyke Junior Band and my mum still involved, so it was perhaps natural that I inherited their love of it."

Andy was one of the first intake on the pioneering Brass Band Musicianship Course at Salford University under Dr Roy Newsome and played under him when Besses o'th' Barn won the British Open in 1982.

He also went on to play with Leyland, Flixton and back to Besses before landing the role as principal cornet with the band from Westhoughton since 1999.

Fit it in

"I've enjoyed every moment of it," he added, "…from those early years at Prescot where I became principal cornet aged 14, to the Band Course at Salford.

Great memories include playing with Besses and winning the British Open, enjoying a spell under Dicky Evans as top-man at Leyland, the great challenge of getting Flixton Band back to contesting health and another spell at Besses. I can't quite believe I managed to fit it all in!"

At home

However, it is his association with Wingates that has given him greatest pleasure, as he revealed. "I've always felt at home here. It's a great band full of great people and I just want to help them in any way I can.

We've experienced ups and downs of course, but now we are back at the British Open and are regulars at the Nationals once more. The band is a huge part of my life and I'm lucky my wife Sue is involved too.

I hope I've also got a few years left in me to carry on helping Wingates back to the very top."

I can't quite believe it. It's been 50 years of sheer enjoyment that has past so quicklyAndy MacDonald

Giving back

One of the things he is most proud of is that he has been able to pass on his love of brass playing to future generations as a peripatetic teacher in the Salford and St Helens areas.

"It's a job a love," he said. "There's nothing better than being able to give something back to banding."

Andy also revealed that he plans to enjoy the evening in full — although he hopes he won't be called upon to reveal his other musical skills.

"Over the years I've learnt to play the piano, drums and the recorder — although I will always be happiest playing the cornet with Wingates!"

Concert details

For more details of the concert go to: http:/­/­www.wingatesbrassband.co.uk/­shopping/­tickets.html

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Alan Duguid

BA (Hons), PGDipMus, PGCE
Conductor, Composer, Adjudicator (ABBA)