Dónal Rafferty was born in Dublin Ireland and has been obsessed with music ever since hearing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on his grandfather’s stereo when he was 6 years old! His earliest formal musical education was singing with The Palestrina Choir from age 7, at which time he also commenced studying piano, clarinet, and music theory at The College of Music Dublin.
Dónal first completed an Mechanical Engineering Degree at Trinity College Dublin (graduated '04) before deciding to study for a Music Degree at the National University of Ireland Maynooth (graduated '07), where he quickly uncovered his passion for composition which led him to complete a Master's Degree at King’s College London (graduated '09). He is an alumnus of the IMRO Irish Composition Summer School (2007) and holds diplomas in piano performance and music theory from London College of Music and Trinity College London respectively.
Dónal composes music for all kinds of musical forces - including symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, choir , and contemporary bands - and his music demonstrates clear command of a range of idioms. His string + wind quintet Aquastrata (2005) was awarded the 2010 IMRO Award for Chamber Ensemble composition. His music has been performed by ensembles such as Lontano, Concorde, The Penbridge Trio, the Taylor Festival Choir, and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. His music has been performed in Europe and the USA and used in commercial content by Google. Dónal has also composed for theatre, for the amateur production The Queen Who Cancelled Christmas, which premiéred at the Whale Theatre in Wicklow, Ireland in December 2018. Dónal's musical style is well-informed by his classical training, but supplemented by an awareness and deep understanding of contemporary musical styles.
Dónal worked as Global Operations Manager with Google in the UK and USA from 2010-2019, following which, he decided to focus full-time on composing music, specializing in scoring visual media. He now resides in California and produces music from his professional home studio.
In 2020, Dónal was a featured composer at Film Independent and SAGIndie's joint 'IndieLink' workshop. He is an award-winner of the 2020 Indie Film Music Contest. He participated in the 2021 Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive workshop with tutors Angel Velez (Santa Monica Chamber Orchestra, Varèse Sarabande Chamber Orchestra), Conrad Pope (conductor and orchestrator for film composers including John Williams (Harry Potter series), Don Davis (The Matrix trilogy), Howard Shore (The Hobbit trilogy), and Tom Holkenberg aka JunkieXL (Alita: Battle Angel, Tomb Raider), legendary conductor Leonard Slatkin, William Ross (orchestrator on Ready Player One (2018), Rogue One (2016), The Hunger Games (2012)) and alumni Jeff Russo (composer on Star Trek Picard, 2020), Fil Eisler (composer on Empire TV series, 2015-2019), and Cindy O'Connor (composer on Once Upon a Time TV series, 2011-2018).