The winners of the IMRO sponsored ESB Feis Ceoil Composition Competitions were announced this week and are as follows:
18.01 IMRO €1,000 Award – Chamber Ensemble: 1st: Donal Rafferty HC: Glen Austin
18.02 IMRO €1,000 Award – String Orchestra 1st: Daniel McDermott HC: Dan O'Neill
18.03 Feis Ceoil €1,000 Award – Choral 1st: Donal Sarsfield HC: Dan O'Neill
Born in Dublin in 1982, Dónal Rafferty studied piano and music theory at The College of Music and voice and aural training with The Palestrina Choir from the age of 7. Dónal continued to study music during the years of his primary and secondary school education, competing and achieving success in local competitions for piano, piano duet and singing, while concurrently touring the world and gaining invaluable musical experience as a member of The Palestrina Choir.
In 2007, Dónal graduated first place in the Bachelor of Music degree at the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, specialising in composition with Martin O’Leary. In 2006, Dónal was chosen as a finalist in the Neerpelt European Music Festival for Young People Composition Competition for his composition Unresolved Tension for symphonic band. As a result, he was invited as a guest to the festival and participated in a workshop with composer Johan de Meij (Netherlands). Following his graduation from Maynooth, Dónal participated in the 2007 IMRO Irish Composition Summer School, studying with Kevin O’Connell (Royal Irish Academy of Music) and Nicola Lefanu (University of York). During the same year, Dónal was engaged to arrange Irish traditional music for the South Carolina fiddle group Na Fidléirí and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.
Dónal commenced postgraduate studies in 2008 at King’s College London for the degree of Master in Music. He specialised in composition with Robert Keeley and George Benjamin, and studied analysis with Arnold Whittall, and musicology with John Deathridge and Christopher Wintle. He graduated with distinction in January 2010. Since July 2009, Dónal has worked with the London Chamber Orchestra, managing the LCO New: Explore composition competition scheme. He is a member of the Irish Composers’ Collective.
Daniel McDermott is a composer, pianist and multi-instrumentalist. He studied classical piano and guitar from a young age before progressing to Jazz piano and tenor saxophone in college. He studied composition in Dundalk IT School of Music before doing a Masters in Composition in Queen's University, Belfast.
He has attended master classes with Donnacha Dennehy and Simon Bainbridge. He names his musical hero as John Zorn and sees himself as an "internet composer", someone who grew up and was exposed to the profound and endless musical styles that fill the internet – from Klezmer to death metal to Stockhausen to Japanese pop. This results in a disparate and extremely wide range of musical genres existing within his compositions, or sometimes its antithesis: a more unified piece like the Feis Ceoil piece, "Stab", which explores one relentless idea.