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 a Mechanical Engineering Degree at Trinity College Dublin (graduated '04) before pursuing a Music Degree at the National University of Ireland Maynooth (graduated '07), where he quickly uncovered his passion for composition that led him on to pursue 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 ensembles - including symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, and choir - 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 Greystones, Ireland in December 2018. Dónal's musical style is well-informed by his classical training, and enhanced by an awareness and understanding of contemporary musical styles. He has been funded by Culture Ireland and The Arts Council of Ireland.
Dónal worked with Google in London and then San Francisco between 2010 and 2019, after which he decided to focus full-time on composing music professionally, specializing in music for visual and theatrical media. He currently spends his time between Ireland and California. Dónal has been a two-time featured composer at Film Independent and SAGIndie's joint 'IndieLink: Composers' workshop. He is a prize-winner of the 2020 Indie Film Music Contest. He is a Fellow of the Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive (2021-22) where he trained with Angel Velez, Conrad Pope, Leonard Slatkin, and William Ross and alumni Sherri Chung, Jeff Russo, Fil Eisler, Tom Howe, and Cindy O'Connor. He currently works as assistant to composer Edward Shearmur.