Shaun Davey was born in Belfast in 1948. Originally trained at Trinity College, Dublin and The Courtauld Institute as an art historian, he has worked as a full-time professional composer since 1977.
In Ireland his often large-scale, melodic, narrative compositions have been recognised as a bridge between Irish traditional music and orchestral traditions, e.g. ‘The Brendan Voyage’. His suite for the Dublin Special Olympics was performed before an audience of 80,000 and his setting of St Patricks’ prayer ‘The Deers Cry’ at the inauguration of the current Irish President. His work features on the Irish school syllabus.
In theatre he has composed many scores for the Royal Shakespeare Company (including ‘Fair Maid of the West’, ‘A Winter’s Tale’, ‘King Lear’, ‘Pericles’) working first with Trevor Nunn and later with Adrian Noble; his score for the RSC production of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ continues to be a popular Christmas show on both sides of the Atlantic. In the USA he has worked both on and off Broadway, with a New York Critics Award and a Tony nomination for best musical score for James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’, a San Diego Critics Award for ‘The Tempest’ and a Drama Desk nomination for ‘Pericles’. Work in Ireland at The Abbey includes ‘The Silver Tassie, Well of the Saints’ and ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster marching towards the Somme’.
His work in TV and Film includes the scores for ‘The Spike’, ‘The Burke Enigma’, ‘Still Love’ (RTE), ‘Catchpenny Twist’, ‘Pentecost’, ‘The Hanging Gale’, ‘Loving, Ballykissangel series 1-3’ (BBC), ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘Waking Ned Devine’, ‘The Tailor of Panama’, ‘David Copperfield’ (Hallmark), ‘The Abduction Club’. His work in TV and Film is recognized with two BAFTA Nominations (‘The Hanging Gale’, ‘Ballykissangel’), an Ivor Novello Award, (‘The Hanging Gale’) an Ivor nomination (‘Twelfth Night’), a Golden Reel Award (‘Waking Ned Devine’), and a TRIC Award for best UK TV signature theme (‘Ballykissangel’).
Shaun Davey’s concert work began with an ambitious pairing of the Irish uilleann pipes with a symphony orchestra to tell the story of a medieval leather boat crossing the Atlantic (‘The Brendan Voyage’); followed by a suite for Celtic Instruments, choir and orchestra (‘The Pilgrim’) narrative songs about the woman clan chieftain Grace O’Malley (‘Granuaile’), a symphony for peace (‘The Relief of Derry Symphony’), a choral/orchestral meditation on Jonathan Swift’s later years (‘Gulliver’), an anthem and songs of welcome (‘Suite for the Dublin Special Olympics’), suites of his music from theatre and film (‘The Hanging Gale’, ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘Waking Ned’, ‘Ballykissangel’, ‘Tailor of Panama’), songs for a traditional band (‘Béal Tuinne’), music for the Irish National Youth Orchestra (‘A Summer Overture’), music for a series of Irish-Romanian collaboration concerts (‘Voices from the Merry Cemetery’), settings of poems by Mihai Emenescu (‘Dintre sute de catarge and Stelele-n-cer’), four Christmas Carols, a suite of sea shanties (‘Songs from the High Seas’), settings of Latin psalms (‘Sunt Angelis’), a song suite about the wife of James Joyce (‘Nora Barnacle’) in collaboration with Nuala ní Dhomhnaill, and music for 1000 voices to commemorate Ireland’s 1916 centenary (‘One Hundred Years a Nation’) in collaboration with Paul Muldoon. Many feature Irish or Celtic traditional soloists (including pipeband), percussion and amateur choirs.
Recordings; CDs with Tara Records; ‘The Brendan Voyage’, ‘The Pilgrim’, ‘Granuaile’, ‘The Relief of Derry Symphony’,’ Béal Tuinne’, ‘May we never have to say goodbye’, ‘Voices from the Merry Cemetery’; soundtrack albums from ‘Waking Ned’, (London) ‘Tailor of Panama’ (Varese Sarabande), ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’ (RSC), ‘Twelfth Night’ (Silvascreen).