Anselm McDonnell

Award: Transmission Fund

Year: 2018

Genre: Classical

Instrument/voice type: Composer

Location: Northern Ireland


Anselm McDonnell is a Northern Irish composer based in Belfast. His instrumental and choral works often integrate extended techniques and theatrical elements such as vocalisation or stage directions alongside more conventional writing to increase the dramatic impact of the work. 

Anselm's music has been performed by ensembles such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, St. Salvator’s Chapel Choir, HRSE, The Assembly Project, Grosvenor Chorale and the Ficino Ensemble. He has also worked collaboratively with individual performers: guitarist Chris Roberts, Andrew Budden from Psappha and Laura Sinnerton from the BBC NOW. Competitively, Anselm was privileged to be a finalist in the Peter Rosser Composition Award run by the HRSE (twice, in 2015 and 2018) and to receive 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, with the possibility of a performance in Moscow. His first recorded choral piece, 'Hinneni' was commercially released by the St. Salvatore’s Chapel Choir on a CD celebrating the music of Sir James MacMillan, ‘Annunciations’. ‘Hinneni’ was performed by the choir on tour in venues in Paris, London and Edinburgh. The CD is available from Presto Classical. 

2018 is a busy year for new works: May will see the Russian premiere of a chamber trio that was selected for the final of the 3rd International Sergei Slonimsky Competition in St. Petersburg. In August 2018, two of the movements from Anselm’s suite for guitar ‘Eyewitnesses of His Majesty’ will receive their East Asian premiere in Kyoto, Japan, by a guitarist from the Rosetta Contemporary Music Ensemble. In November, a new commission for Belfast based choir Cantiunculae will be performed as the centrepiece for a concert commemorating the centenary of World War 1.