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Anselm McDonnell

Meet Anselm McDonnell

Learn all about LSO Jerwood Composer+ Member Anselm McDonnell.


3-minute read

Anselm McDonnell holds his Politics of the Imagination concert on 9 March at LSO St Luke’s, showcasing influences from dubstep to Balkan rhythms, and featuring rappers from Birmingham’s hip-hop scene. Ahead of this event we’ve got everything you need to know about the LSO Jerwood Composer+ member.

It’s both challenging and extremely rewarding to work with such excellent musicians. It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for thinking outside the box.
– Anselm McDonnell on the LSO Jerwood Composer+ Scheme

Quickfire Questions

What inspires your music the most?


Earliest musical memory?

I’m only a musician because I was jealous of my younger brother playing the guitar, so I gatecrashed his guitar lessons so I could learn as well!

In three words what can people expect from your event?

Intensity, Irony, and Grooves.

How would you describe your compositional style/creative practice?

It’s been described as containing a lot of complexities and contradictions, which I think is an accurate assessment. I like to mix different elements together to see how they interact.

Favourite concert you’ve been to recently?

I saw Barbara Hannigan performing a portrait concert of John Zorn’s music in Paris and was blown away by both the performance and the music.

You’re going to a desert island and can only take one film, one book and one piece of music what do you take?

This would be a terrible situation for me, as I rarely watch or read things more than once… But my favourite movie is Batman: The Dark Knight, and for a book probably something by the theologian John Owen (something entertaining and something thought-provoking!). For music I’d 100% take Saariaho’s opera L’Amour de loin, the music is incredible and contains all of my favourite things: the voice, electronics, and imaginative orchestration.

Listen To



Anselm McDonnell (1994) is an Irish/Welsh composer based in Belfast who has composed over 80 pieces for orchestra, chamber groups, choirs, soloists and electronics.

His music has been performed in 13 countries and he has been commissioned by some of the top new music ensembles in the UK/Ireland, such as LSO Soundhub, BBC Concert Orchestra and the Crash Ensemble. His music features on nine CDs, including two self-released albums: Light of Shore (2021) and Kraina (late 2023). In June 2023 he had portrait concerts dedicated to his music in Bangkok, and Chiang Mai, Thailand, by the TACETi Ensemble.

His compositions have been described as ‘abrasive and compelling’ (Irish Times) and ‘bristling with energy’ (GoldenPlec), and as having ‘an overall sense of anarchic freedom’ (Journal of Music). Of McDonnell’s music, Robert Hugill wrote, ‘perhaps the contrasts and complexities that it contains are a musical reflection of the multi-layered nature of what it means to be a composer in a community as complex as Northern Ireland’.

In Concert

Politics of the Imagination: Anselm McDonnell
LSO St Luke's

Politics of the Imagination: Anselm McDonnell

LSO Discovery Jerwood Composer+ Showcase

Saturday 9 March 2024 • 7pm

LSO Jerwood Composer+ Anselm McDonnell curates a programme of rhythmic compositions showcasing influences from dubstep to Balkan rhythms, interspersed with performances from rappers on Birmingham’s hip-hop scene.