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Donald Shaw

Donald Shaw

Donald Shaw

Donald Shaw; Photo: Anne-Janine Nugent

Brought up in Taynuilt, Argyll, Donald Shaw was involved in all styles of music from an early age. Originally taught the accordion by his father, at 16 he won the All-Britain accordion championship performing Hans Brehme’s ‘Paganiniana’.  A year later, whilst still at Oban High School, returning to his love of roots music he co-founded Scotland’s most famous Celtic band Capercaillie, with whom he still writes, produces and performs.

Over the past 20 years Donald has produced and recorded on more than 150 albums for artists in all areas of music. Collaborations include those with high profile artists as diverse as Nanci Griffith, Peter Gabriel, Craig Armstrong, and Soul II Soul.

He was also 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.  It was with this vast experience that he launched the independent label Vertical Records in 2000 which has gone on to release many critically acclaimed albums.

Throughout his musical life Donald has been involved in composing for film and TV, with several of his scores nominated for BAFTAs.  In 2002 he was awarded two Royal Television Society awards.  In January 2004 he composed ‘Harvest’, a commission for the opening night of Celtic Connections festival, which will be performed again in January for Celtic Connections 2006.  Donald has also been nominated for the composer of the year award in the Scots Trad Music Awards 2005.


Capercaillie was founded in 1984 by Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson whilst still at Oban High School.  Since then Capercaillie has gone from strength to strength, and is now Scotland’s most famous Celtic band.  From the early years of playing in village halls throughout the west coast of Scotland, Capercaillie have gone on to sell over a million albums worldwide.  There have been many milestones for the band, including three silver and one gold album in the UK, the first Gaelic Top 40 single, writing the music for and appearing in the Hollywood movie 'Rob Roy', and touring and performing in over 30 countries worldwide.  They have moulded a central strand of their Gaelic heritage into a fresh, new sound, capable of reaching out to the ears and hearts of people all over the world.

Capercaillie is:

Karen Matheson – vocals
Donald Shaw – keyboards, accordion
Charlie McKerron – fiddle
Manus Lunny – bouzouki, guitar, vocals
Ewan Vernal – bass
Michael McGoldrick – flute
David Robertson – percussion
Che Beresford - drums

Capercaillie (Barcelona); Photo: Gunnar Knetchel; Courtesy: Donald Shaw


The annual Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow has witnessed many resplendent and groundbreaking first-night concerts during its history, but few have been quite as special as the premiere of Donald Shaw’s ‘Harvest’ in 2004.

Harvest rehearsals 2004; Courtesy: Donald Shaw 

The ‘Harvest’ project was a one-off commission for the festival.  Donald’s aim was to celebrate the abundance of youthful talent in Scottish traditional music, while encouraging Scotland’s emerging musicians to explore the traditions of Brittany, Asturias and Galica.  The result was a concert-length spectacle.

It featured some 20 major-name artists from around the Celtic world, alongside nearly 80 young musicians aged 13-18 drawn from the many traditional music education initiatives which have flourished throughout Scotland in recent years.

Celtic Connections 2006 presents a revival of ‘Harvest’ following the overwhelming success of its premiere in 2004. It will take place on Sunday 22 January 2006 at 3pm in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Harvest rehearsals 2004; Courtesy: Donald Shaw

For tickets, visit the Celtic Connections website or contact the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Box Office.  The show is now also planned for performances in New York, Madrid and Paris.

For more information on Donald Shaw and Capercaillie, visit the Capercaillie website.  For a full programme of events, visit the Celtic Connections website.

Related links
* Capercaillie
* Vertical Records
* Celtic Connections
* Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
* Nanci Griffith
* Peter Gabriel
* Craig Armstrong
* Scots Trad Music Awards 2005
* Music home
* Other music features
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