Donald was, until retiring in 2020, Professor of Music at Victoria University of Wellington. He has performed internationally for four decades as a solo violist and chamber musician and has given world premieres and New Zealand premieres of many works. He has presented at twenty International Viola Congresses.
He was awarded the Silver Alto Clef by the International Viola Society in 2000, was made an Honorary Life Member of the American Viola Society in 2007, and in 2009 he gave the William Primrose Memorial Concert in Utah. He has performed for New Zealand diplomatic missions in Washington DC, New York, Ottawa, Berlin, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Warsaw. In 2014 he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Donald has books published on Béla Bartók and Alfred Hill. “Bartók's Viola Concerto - The Remarkable Story of his Swansong” (Oxford) is recognized as an authoritative text.
The award-winning CD of his live 2008 performance of Boris Pigovat's 'Holocaust Requiem' has received high acclaim in Europe and North America. He gave the German premiere of this work in Wuerzburg in 2011.
He is the producer of Lacrimosa, a documentary film about the composer and the Requiem.
Donald’s solo and chamber music discography spans 18 CDs on Naxos, Tantara, Acte Prealable, Atoll, and Kiwi Pacific. He is featured playing viola d’amore on a documentary film made in Poland about the baroque composer Christoph Graupner. His most recent viola d’amore CD with Archi d’Amore Zelanda (Atoll) features trios by New Zealand composers David Hamilton and Michael Williams.
In 2018, Donald founded Sinfonia for Hope, an orchestra of professional musicians who donate their time once a year to raise funds for humanitarian causes.
Donald studied under Nannie Jamieson at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Donald McInnes at the University of Washington, Max Rostal at the Aldeburgh Festival, and William Primrose at the Banff School of Fine Arts.