Like many in his field, Toronto-born composer and conductor David Federman can claim that music has been a lifelong pursuit. Unlike many musicians, however, David can also claim that his desire to pursue music existed since before he was born – if the stories of his prenatal Vivaldi cravings are to be believed. Since then, there has scarcely been a time in which music has not been part of his life.
As a young violinist, David demonstrated an affinity for and innate understanding of the narrative quality of programmatic music. He would later harness this nascent sensitivity in a fully-fledged and largely self-motivated interest in music composition, combined with an early adoption of music technology and MIDI sequencing for arranging, orchestrating, and crafting of original works. David further developed his professional interest in writing music as a teenager, making his initial forays into screen composition in high school. It was his first film collaboration in 2001 with an ambitious young filmmaker – and resultant Best Soundtrack Award at his school’s film festival – that solidified his desire to pursue this path.
This filmmaking partnership endured over the next few years, while David pursued his Bachelor of Music in History and Theory at the University of Toronto, with some of their collaborations appearing on television and in film festivals. It was also during this time that David had the opportunity to study historical performance practice on the violin, as well as supplementing his East Asian ethnomusicological studies with practical experience on the koto, shamisen, taiko drums, erhu, and the instruments of the Balinese gamelan.
In 2014, David graduated with a Master of Music degree in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games from Berklee College of Music, Valencia Campus, where he studied under Lucio Godoy and Alfons Conde. In recognition of his achievements during the Master’s program, he was granted the prestigious Outstanding Scholar Award at graduation. David’s experience in Spain was followed by an internship in Los Angeles, working in the studio of composer Bear McCreary.
In 2015, David returned to Toronto to compose the score for the feature film, John Lives Again (dir. Anthony Furey), the video game, Cow Bros: The Final Throwdown (dev. Dotly Studios), and the short, In Utero (dir. Jonathan Krimer). David was also selected to participate in the 2015 NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop, where he was mentored by Sean Callery, Mark Snow, and Mark Suozzo.
David’s music has been recorded by ensembles around the world, notably in London, Budapest, New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. His Flight: A Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki, recorded by a 54-piece orchestra under his baton at AIR Studios, was featured as part of a special presentation at the Hemisfèric in Valencia, Spain, from January to June of 2015.
David recently scored the short films Everbliss (dir. Celine Tsai), Haru’s New Year (dir. Alice Shin), and A Simple Act from the anthology Her Story (In Three Parts) (dir. Camille Hollett-French). His music can also be heard in Season 5 of CBC’s Someone Knows Something podcast.
In 2017, David scored Esmerelda’s Castle (dir./prod. Rachel Cairns and Sarah Hempinstall), Man Eater (prod. Risa Stone and Nicole Segal, dir. Shawn Gerrard), and The Last Supper (prod. Patricia Ismaili and Clara Pasieka, dir. Christine Buijs), three short films chosen for development through ACTRA Toronto’s Young Emerging Actors Assembly (YEAA) Shorts filmmaking residency, all of which premiered at the 2017 Reelworld Film Festival. Earlier in 2017, David lent his musical talents to the mobile multiplayer online game, Brawlstar Legends (dev. Gazia Games).
In 2016, David scored The Suitcase (dir. Phil Leung), a fantasy/drama short which premiered at the Reel Asian International Film Festival, 48 Hour Take Down (dir. Catherine Séguin), chosen as one of the best short films of 2016 for Toronto’s 48 Hour Film Project, Cruzar el umbral (dir. Sergio Hernández Elvira), a Spanish psychological thriller which premiered at the Valladolid International Film Festival, Taking Possession (dir. Peter Campbell), a horror short which premiered at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival, and Bvrned (dir. Jeff Preyra), one of Canada’s first scripted virtual reality films.
He is also in demand as an arranger and orchestrator, lending his versatile flair to ensembles ranging from Renaissance viols to South American hip-hop. As well, David is the orchestrator and musical director of the new comedy musical, All Great Things (comp. Vira Burmenko).
You may listen to additional samples of his compositions on his SoundCloud.
You can read David’s article on the history and practice of video game music in Perspectives, the newsletter of the International Game Developers Association.