Donald Shaw

Donald Shaw

Donald Shaw is an acclaimed Scottish musician, producer and award-winning composer. Steeped in tradition, he has recorded and collaborated on over 100 albums with musicians in all styles of music, created many film and television scores, and directed large-scale live commissions.

He has toured worldwide with Capercaillie - the folk band he co-founded whilst at school in Argyll – who have gone on to sell over a million albums for their unique sound of Gaelic songs merged with contemporary soundscapes.

He recently composed the soundtrack for a BBC flagship series on the natural world of the Hebrides – ‘Islands on the edge’, a vibrant score of orchestral and traditional music that was a year in the making.

He is currently artistic director for Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, the largest roots festival of it’s kind, with this year’s festival attracting an audience of over 100,000.

Throughout his musical life Donald has been involved in composing for film and TV, including the BAFTA nominated feature film ‘American Cousins’ (directed by Don Coutts and starring Shirley Henderson and Dan Hidaya it won best film at the Milan film festival).He also scored ‘One Last Chance’, a feature film written and directed by Stewart Svaasand for Dougray Scott’s production company Hero Films. For the soundtrack of ‘One Last Chance’, Donald recorded with Lousiana musician Dirk Powell (‘Brother! Where Art Thou’) to create a score influenced by early American folk music.

In 2002 he was rewarded with two Royal Television Society awards for Best Soundtrack and Best Theme in UK television. The RTS awards were for the acclaimed drama ‘Crowdie and Cream’ (co-composed with Charlie McKerron) and involved bringing over 20 musicians from around the world, together with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. His expansive 70 minute score for the feature film ‘Transition’ (released in 2000) was also BAFTA nominated for Best Soundtrack.
More recently he composed the scores for three award-winning films by young film-maker Darren Hercher; The Winner loser, Sighthill Stories and The Downhill racer.

As well as film music, in the last 10 years he has produced and recorded on more than 100 albums for artists in all areas of music, and collaborated in many unique musical scenarios – including the acclaimed ‘Transatlantic sessions’, accompanying renowned Americana artists such as James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Tim O’Brien, Rosanne Cash and Nanci Griffith. Also as a guest of the legendary jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman at the Queens festival in Belfast.

He was musical director for the BAFTA winning BBC arts show ‘Tacsi’, in which he produced collaborations with more than 200 of the finest musicians working in Scotland as diverse as jazz maestro Tommy Smith, piping guru Martyn Bennett and the Scottish Ensemble. Donald has continued this Gaelic music relationship with Mac TV through ‘Horo-Gheallaidh’ on which has been musical director for the last 6 series.

With his vast experience in the field of roots music he launched the independent label ‘Vertical Records’ in 2000, which has gone on to produce and release many critically acclaimed albums by artists including Michael McGoldrick , James Grant, Breabach, Karan Casey, Patsy Reid, Karen Matheson, Roddy Hart and Capercaillie.

He has recently completed soundtracks for the award winning Televison series – the Bafta ‘Katie Morag’ for BBC C-Beebies (adapted from Mairi Hedderwick’s books for BBC  CTV ) ,flagship BBC Alba drama ‘Bannan’, and the Network Nature series ‘Highlands – Scotland’s Wild Heart’ , narrated by Ewan MacGregor, which transmitted on BBC network May 2016.