Dr David A. T. Önaç MA (Cantab), LRSM, MMus, MPhil, PhD

Photograph of Dr David A. T. Önaç

Department of Music
Teaching Fellow in Music

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a composer of instrumental and vocal music particularly interested in harmony. I am also a classical, jazz and gospel pianist, and often premiere my own compositions and those of my peers.


MA (Hons) Music - University of Cambridge

MPhil in Musical Composition - University of Cambridge

MMus in Composition - Royal Northern College of Music

LRSM in Piano Performance - ABRSM

PhD in Composition - University of Manchester


Since September 2013 my regular teaching at the University of Birmingham has included: composition, harmony and counterpoint, and modules in music history and analysis; and I have also examined for the solo performance modules.

From September 2014, I have  designed and run the 'Introduction to Jazz Styles' module.  I have also been a tutor for the Composition MA.


As a composer, my current research is focussed on writing works which explore the relationship between teleology and harmony.

I am also keenly interested in writing and performing new works for the pianoforte, and often premiere my own compositions.

Other activities

Since September 2014, my pastoral role has been to look after the academic welfare of a group of undergraduate tutees at the University of Birmingham.  Since September 2015, I have been the Music Department's Staff Student Liaison Officer.

I am the Musical Director for several gospel choirs including the award-winning Harmony Gospel Choir. I also act as Musical Director for the group of gospel musicians and singers "Voices Beyond" who recently released their debut EP (Oct 2015), available on iTunes.  The role includes co-writing original songs with the Choral Director, recording keyboard tracks and directing musicians in the studio, and playing keyboards for live performances.


Upcoming performances/projects

  • [Commission Title TBC] (SATB, org)
    expected performance date: Dec 2016
    Birmingham University Singers, Simon Halsey (cond.)
  • [Commission Title TBC] (med. ensemble)
    provisional performance date: Late 2016/Early 2017
    University of Birmingham New Music Ensemble, Danielle Rosina (cond.)
  • Lord bring love (SSAA, pno)
    expected performance date: Christmas 2016
  • Responding to the Incarnation (med. orch)
    provisional performance date: Summer 2016

Selected performances

  • Toll (solo pno)
    University of Birmingham New Music Ensemble Concert, Feb 2015
    David Önaç (pno)
  • String Quartet No.6
    Royal Philharmonic Society//Cheltenham Music Festival July 2013
    Carducci Quartet
  • Expanses (a.sax, pno)
    RNCM Gold Medal Festival, June 2013
    Kyran Matthews (a.sax), David Önaç (pno)
  • Newton’s Cradle
    (solo pno, ob, c.a., 2cl, bn, 2hns, 2tpt, 1perc, hp, 2vn, 1va, 1 vc, 1db)
    New Music Northwest Festival, RNCM, March 2012
    David Önaç (pno), Theo Vinden (cond), Vaganza
  • Ayla (vln, pno)
    Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, Manchester, May 2011
    Marc Danel (vln), David Önaç (pno)
  • From Different Places
    (orch: 3fl (picc), 3ob (c.a.), 3cl, 3bn (cont), 4 hn, 3 tpt, 2tbn, b.tbn, tba, 2perc, 2hp, vlnI, vlnII, vla, vc, db)
    University of Manchester Symphony Orchestra, Feb 2010
    Mark Heron (cond)
  • …And the Red Sea… (b.tbn, pno)
    Eastern Trombone Workshop, Virginia, USA, March 2009
    Jonathan Warburton (b.tbn), Sophia Kim Cook (pno)
  • Beginnings (fl, vla, hp)
    BBC Philharmonic Chamber Concert Series, Nov 2008
    Victoria Daniel (fl), Stephen Burnard (vla), Clifford Lantaff (hp)
  • In Memory of Timothy Sharpe (string quartet)
    Memorial service, RNCM, Manchester, 2007
    Mather Quartet
  • Gesture (octet: 2vn, va, vc, db, cl, bn, hn)
    RNCM Brett Dean Festival, Manchester, 2007
    Clark Rundell (cond)
  • Truly I say unto you (SATB)
    BBC Singers, 2007, London
  • Four Études (solo piano)
    Manchester International Festival, Brussels, April 2007
    Peter Donohoe (pno)
  • Fantasia (quintet: b.cl, pno, 1perc, vn, vc)
    Stokholm, 2006
    Curious Chamber Players

Performances of original works for gospel choir

  • The Heavens Declare (2012)
  • In This Life (2013)
  • His Love Endures Forever (2014)
  • Overflowing Fountain of Grace (2015)
  • You Are All I Need (2016)


  • Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize
    (String Quartet No.6, 2012)
  • University Gospel Choir of the Year
    (consecutive wins in 2012 and 2013)
  • BBC Young Composer of the Year (runner up)
    (The Butterfly, solo piano, 2000)


  • …And the Red Sea… (B.tbn, pno), Cherry Classics
  • Converse (flexible ensemble), COMA


  • The Heavens Declare, BBC Radio 2, June 2012