Donald Thomson is a talented Scottish composer whose Celtic Piano Series, Celebrating the Beauty of Scotland, published by EVC Music (www.elenacobb.com) has been nominated for a major national award by Music Teacher magazine in the Best Print Resource category at the MusicExpo in London in February 2018. This popular series so far include three books: A Borders Suite, A Hebrides Suite and Scottish Waters.
Since its launch at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Edinburgh, the Celtic Piano Series is now included in the Contemporary Composer category in several International piano competitions in the USA, Europe and the Elena Cobb Star Prize at the British and International Federation of Festivals or premièred at the Festival at the Royal Albert Hall on April each year.
Donald, who currently lives in Ormiston, East Lothian, studied piano at the RSAMD in Glasgow (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and since moving to the Edinburgh area in 2006 has immersed himself in the music of Scotland, taking his inspiration from places he has visited. He describes his style as ‘Contemporary Scottish’, taking the ‘flavour’ of traditional music and giving it a modern twist.
The first collection of five pieces, A Borders Suite, was originally written as a Christmas present for his mother, an accomplished pianist and lifelong piano teacher, and grew out of a couple of short tunes that he had composed to play at a family wedding in Innerleithen. Within this book are lyrical, slow tunes, a quick jig dedicated to a family Border Collie called Brodie, and a dazzling depiction of the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall, near Moffat.
The second book, A Hebrides Suite, was inspired by composer’s visits to the Islands and include musical pictures of a boat trip to Staffa, a lively take on the traditional waulking songs of Harris, and a carefree jig from Colonsay.
Scottish Waters, the third book in the Celtic Piano Series, was released earlier this year and draws on the composer’s affection for the seas, lochs and rivers of Scotland. The Silvery Tay is side by side with a dramatic and technically demanding depiction of The Corryvreckan Whirlpool, a brooding and turbulent Legend of Loch Ness and a jaunty tune called The Guddly Burn which always makes his audiences smile.
In addition to composing, Donald is demand as a freelance music typesetter (MacMusic), producing scores for many well-known music publishers. Recent commissions have included producing a full orchestral score for a recording by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on Hyperion Records, the latest A level and GCSE music examination workbooks, and various choral and organ works for the Royal School of Church Music. As a pianist, Donald accompanies the Southside Choir and the Dalkeith Singers as well as occasionally joining forces with instrumental players and singers for solo recitals and examinations. And if this wasn’t enough, he also sings Bass with the Edinburgh Bach Choir.
Outside of his musical interests, Donald is a member of Edinburgh and District Advanced Motorcyclists (EDAM) and is often to be seen touring the country aboard his trusty Triumph, seeking inspiration for his latest compositions.