Anselm McDonnell is a composer of Irish/Welsh heritage based in Belfast, who has composed over fifty pieces for orchestra, chamber groups, choirs, soloists, and electronics. His music has been performed in Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Japan, Russia, France, North America and various locations around the UK and Ireland. A diverse range of interests have led to the creation of work in collaboration with lighting designers, theologians, poets, filmmakers (including 360 VR, ambisonic recording and spatialized sound), improvising musicians, and actors.
McDonnell has worked with ensembles such as the Chamber Choir Ireland, CRASH Ensemble, BBC Singers, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Ulster Orchestra, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Ligeti Quartet, St. Salvator’s Chapel Choir, Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble, The Assembly Project, C4 Ensemble, 21C Guitar Orchestra, Rosetta Contemporary Music Ensemble, and Gallery of Actual Music Ensemble. He has also worked collaboratively with individual performers: guitarist Chris Roberts, Mitsuo Nagata, horn player Andrew Budden from Psappha, violist Laura Sinnerton from the BBC NOW and pianist Isabelle O’Connoll. Competitively, Anselm was a finalist in the Peter Rosser Composition Award (twice, in 2015 and 2018) and the 14th Sun River Prize in Chengdu, China. He received 1st prize in the Feis Ceoil Choral Composition Competition 2017 and the Chamber Ensemble Competition 2018. In July 2018 a collection of his choral works was awarded first prize in the 3rd International Kastalsky Choral Writing Competition. His large chamber work Engines of Babel, commissioned by the CRASH Ensemble, received honourable mention in the Thailand Arts and Music Symposium, Bangkok, Thailand. His first recorded choral piece, Hinneni, was commercially released by the St. Salvator’s Chapel Choir on a CD celebrating the music of Sir James MacMillan, Annunciations. McDonnell has also contributed a chapter in a book documenting the project, Annunciations: Sacred Music for the 21st Century, which includes chapters from MacMillan and Paul Mealor, published in May 2019 by Cambridge Open Book Publishers. His work has been broadcast on Lyric FM, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Ulster and Radiophrenia Glasgow.
In 2020 McDonnell has been commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, National Concert Hall Dublin, BBC Radio 3 (Audio Postcards Series), the Royal Astronomical Society (a work for orchestra and choir, to be performed in September as part of their bicentenary celebrations), and Jewish choir Mosaic Voices. He is one of Moving On Music’s emerging artists for 2020, who will be releasing a portrait CD of his work in 2021. BBC NOW’s Laura Sinnerton’s forthcoming album with NMC Records will feature his work for solo viola, The Testimony of John Paton. He has been a part-time lecturer in composition and contemporary music history in Queen’s University Belfast for three years, is a founding member of Northern Irish new music ensemble PANIC, and occasionally works as orchestral librarian for BBC NI.