Past. Present. Future.

Dónal Rafferty was born in Dublin Ireland and has been obsessed with creating 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 in Dublin.

Dónal first completed an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at Trinity College Dublin (2004) before deciding to undertake an undergraduate music degree at National University of Ireland Maynooth (2007), but he quickly discovered his passion and talent for composition, and continued on to complete a master’s degree in composition at King’s College London (2009). He is an alumnus of the IMRO Irish Composition Summer School (2007) and also holds diplomas in piano performance and music theory from London College of Music and Trinity College London.

Dónal composes and produces original music for all kinds of instrumental ensembles - including orchestra, chamber ensemble, and choir - as well as practicing songwriting. His quintet ​Aquastrata (2005) was awarded the IMRO Award for Chamber Ensemble composition in 2010. His music has been performed by ensembles such as Lontano, Concorde, The Penbridge Trio (supported by the Arts Council of Ireland), the Taylor Festival Choir (supported by Culture Ireland) 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 worked in theatre, composing music for The Queen Who Cancelled Christmas​ which premiéred at the Whale Theatre in Bray Ireland in December 2018.

Dónal relocated to the US in 2013 following years spent in London, including a period working with the London Chamber Orchestra managing a national new music project exploring the links between architecture and music that afforded developing composers the opportunity to have their music performed and recorded.  Becoming a US permanent resident in 2016 brought Dónal closer to his ultimate goal of working with filmmakers, both in the Hollywood film industry and in indie operations elsewhere.


In 2019, Dónal made the bold step to move on from an international career with Google to focus full-time on creating music. He now resides in California and produces music from his professional home studio. He has a special interest in collaborating with visual storytellers in the environmental activism and social justice fields.

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Selected photos by matterandemptyspace used with permission.