Donald Shaw is an acclaimed Scottish musician, producer, festival director and award-winning composer. He has recorded and collaborated on over 100 albums with musicians in all styles of music, created Bafta winning soundtracks and directed large-scale live commissions.
His compositions have been performed by the BBC London Philharmonic, the Halle Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
He has toured worldwide with Capercaillie – the Scots folk band he co-founded whilst at school in Argyll – who have gone on to sell over a million albums with their unique sound of Gaelic songs & contemporary soundscapes.
In the last 20 years he has recorded and performed in many unique scenarios, with artists such as James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Mark Knopfler, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Vicente Amigo, Rosanne Cash, Julie Fowlis, James Grant, Tommy Smith and Ornette Coleman.
He has composed extensively for film and TV on various styles including the BBC Network Nature series ‘Scotland’s Wild Heart’, flagship BBC Alba drama ‘Bannan’, and the Bafta winning children’s TV series ‘Katie Morag’. His soundtrack to ‘Hebrides – Islands on the Edge’ (narrated by Ewan McGregor) was nominated for the coveted Jackson Hole award. He has produced live music projects for National Theatre of Scotland, Edinburgh International Festival, Womad UK, BBC Proms, London Olympics 2012 and Commonwealth Games Festival 2014, and he owns the independent label ‘Vertical Records’, which has released over 40 acclaimed albums.
He is currently principal Creative Producer for Glasgow’s Celtic Connections; the largest roots festival of it’s kind in the UK, with an annual audience of over 120,000.
Recent projects have included original music for an HBO series and producing a new album for the Gaelic trio ‘Sian’.
Brought up in Argyll on Scotland’s west coast, Donald was involved in all styles of music from an early age. Originally taught the accordion by his father, he won the All-Britain accordion championship at 16 performing ‘Paganiniana’, Hans Brehme’s renowned adaptation of Paganini’s ‘Theme and Variations’.
A year later, whilst still at Oban High School, through his love of roots music he co-founded Scotland’s most famous Celtic band – Capercaillie, with whom he still writes, produces and performs.
From small beginnings playing in village halls, Capercaillie went on to enjoy world-wide success, bringing Scottish music and the Gaelic language to more than 40 countries. They have recorded some 17 albums, with Silver and Gold album sales, and they had the first song in Gaelic to reach the UK top 40.Other highlights include performing and featuring in the United Artists epic movie “Rob Roy”.
In 2004 he was commissioned to write Harvest, for the opening night of the Celtic Connections festival, which featured 80 young traditional Scottish musicians. Amongst many awards, the following year he won the Scots Trad Music Composer of the Year.
Throughout his musical life Donald has been involved in composing for film and TV, including feature film ‘American Cousins’ (which he won best score at the Milan film festival).
He also scored ‘One Last Chance’, a feature film written and directed by Stewart Svaasand on which he recorded with Lousiana musician Dirk Powell (‘Brother! Where Art Thou’) to create a score influenced by early Americana folk music.
In 2002 he was rewarded with two Royal Television Society awards for Best Soundtrack and Best Theme in UK television for the BBC drama ‘Crowdie and Cream’ (co-composed with Charlie McKerron), and his expansive score for the feature film ‘Transition’ (released in 2000) was BAFTA nominated for Best Soundtrack.
In June 2011 he was honoured by Glasgow University with a Doctorate in music.