Latest Appointments and Awards in Music (April 2023)

Jazz guitarist Max Zaska

Latest Appointments and Awards in Music (April 2023)

A round-up of recent appointments and awards with news from Improvised Music Company and Triskel Arts Centre, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Music Network, Irish Traditional Music Archive, RDS, The Ark, TG4, Opera North, Dance Limerick, Northern Ireland Opera, and Arts & Business NI.

The Improvised Music Company (IMC) and Triskel Arts Centre have announced guitarist and composer Max Zaska as the winner of this year’s WRITE RECORD PERFORM programme, which offers a professional musician in jazz or improvised music a budget of up to €10,000 to develop a new musical project. 

Zaska is a guitarist, songwriter, musical director and producer, creating work in the worlds of funk, neo-soul and jazz. As part of the programme, he will collaborate with four vocalists – Gemma Dunleavy, Shiv, Melina Malone, and JarJarJr. – to create a body of work that will be performed with full band at Triskel Arts Centre in September and recorded for release.

In addition to the bursary, Zaska will receive mentoring and have access to work spaces in Triskel and at IMC’s new centre for jazz, The Cooler @ The Complex in Dublin. 

Commenting on the award, Zaska said:  

The work that will come out of this programme will not only benefit me, but four other songwriters in collaboration. The new music we create, record and perform will have a long-lasting effect on all of our careers as artists. My deepest thanks to IMC and Triskel Arts Centre for your support. I’m excited to be returning to Cork and am buzzing to perform in Triskel Christchurch. 


Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Music Network have announced the appointment of this year’s Musicians-In-Residence. Two residencies have been awarded to established musicians – violinist Lidia Jewloszewicz-Clarke and singer Simon Morgan – while the third residency has been awarded to an emerging musician, guitarist Chris Comhaill. The residencies run from April to October and provide the artists with funding, a dedicated workspace and mentoring to support their career development.

Performances by the artists will take place throughout the residencies. Chris Comhaill will focus on developing new arrangements and compositions for his Celtic folklore and myth-inspired project, Dúchas. Jewloszewicz-Clarke will collaborate with Irish violinist Larissa O’Grady and will explore the concept of identity, belonging, cultural connections, exchange and cultural integration. 

Morgan will collaborate with guitarist Drazen Derek and saxophonist Richie Buckley to develop material for their collective, Stolen Chicken. He also plans to create new music for a project involving the Richie Buckley Quintet. 

Commenting on the announcement, CEO of Music Network Sharon Rollston said

It’s a pleasure to work with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council once again on the management of this annual scheme. These residencies will provide valuable time and resources for the appointed musicians to develop their artistic practice, advance their careers and produce exciting new work which we look forward to sharing with local audiences as the year unfolds.



The Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) has announced the appointment of Robert Mackenzie to the newly created role of Digital Communications and Engagement Officer. Mackenzie is a multimedia journalist and editor originally from Hamilton, Canada, and work has featured in various publications including Vice, The Verge and The Toronto Star. 

Prior to joining ITMA, Mackenzie undertook a Master’s degree in Interactive Digital Media at Trinity College Dublin, worked as an editor at Noa, the audio journalism start-up, and as Communications Officer at the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. In his new role, he will focus on enhancing ITMA’s digital presence and online engagement.



Pianist Aidan Chan has been announced as the winner of the 2023 RDS Music Bursary Award, which includes a prize of €15,000 and performance opportunities with the National Symphony Orchestra and at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. 

Clarinettist Margot Maurel was awarded the RDS Jago Award of €5,000 and an opportunity to perform with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Soprano Megan O’Neill won the RDS Collins Memorial Performance Award, which includes a prize of €2,000 and a performance at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in Lismore.


The Board of the children’s arts centre in Dublin The Ark has recently appointed two new Directors – Elish Bul-Godley and Mark Kennedy.  

Bul-Godley is a content marketing consultant, providing services such as content strategy and creation, brand marketing, social media management, and mentoring to a variety of organizations. She is currently working with Content Plan digital marketing agency, Greenedge Dublin agency, UCD Professional Academy, and the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies.

Kennedy is a Chartered Accountant and a member of the Global Executive Board of Mazars accountancy firm. He has held leadership positions in Mazars, including Head of Audit (Ireland) and Managing Partner (Ireland). 


Frank McArdle has been named as the recipient of the Gradam Comaoine for the TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2023, which will be presented at a ceremony in Limerick this Sunday 23 April. 

A musician and educator, McArdle started a céilí band for students in 1978 at St Roch’s Secondary School in Glasgow, where he worked as a maths teacher. McArdle plays piano accordion, fiddle and guitar and was inspired by musicians such as fiddle player Sean McGuire, button accordionist Joe Burke and The Bothy Band. As a member of his local Comhaltas branch The Irish Minstrels, he began to introduce his pupils from the school céilí band to the Comhaltas lessons, céilís and fleadhanna. He later took on the running of the branch and moved its classes to St Roch’s Secondary School where it is still based.

The Irish Minstrels Comhaltas branch now has over 150 pupils and provides free tuition in whistle, fiddle, flute, button accordion, piano accordion, concertina, banjo and uilleann pipes. McArdle is Chairman of the branch and facilitates its lessons and entries to fleadhanna across Britain and in Ireland. The branch has 30 tutors, who learned their music at the classes and teach on a voluntary basis.  

The Gradam Comaoine TG4 2023 recognises those who have dedicated themselves to preserving and sharing traditional music. See the full list of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2023 recipients here



Opera North in Leeds has announced the appointment of Laura Canning as the new General Director and CEO. Canning is currently the Director of Artistic Administration at Garsington Opera, a post she has held since 2015. She previously served as the Artistic Administrator at Welsh National Opera before moving to Houston, Texas where she was the Studio Director for Houston Grand Opera. 

She will take up her new position at Opera North in December after the 2023 Garsington Opera Festival.

Canning’s appointment comes after the retirement of the outgoing General Director Richard Mantle OBE, who has been with Opera North for over 15 years. 



Dance Limerick has announced the appointment of Mary Wycherley as its new Director. Wycherley will lead the artistic vision for the organization, overseeing the development, curation and production of a programme that includes public performances, artist development and training schemes. With over 20 years of experience as a dance artist, artistic director and educator, Wycherley’s practice has focused on collaboration, community and interdisciplinarity, delivering works and artistic programmes both nationally and internationally.

She will take up the role in April, succeeding the outgoing director Jenny Traynor. 


At the end of March, Northern Ireland Opera won the Best Production award at the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards for their adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods. This is the first time in the 25-year history of the awards that a musical has won the award.

The production was staged at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast in February 2022. The company was also shortlisted in two other categories for Into the Woods – Cameron Menzies for Best Director and Niall McKeever for Best Set. 

Commenting on the award, Menzies said: 

It was an absolute thrill to be recognized by these prestigious awards … The entire original creative team had just arrived back from Australia that morning where we were presenting the same production of Into the Woods with West Australian Opera and to win this award has really been a highlight to top off a wonderful experience for the company. For a Northern Irish company and production to receive this highly acclaimed award is a real honour. I wish to thank the entire cast, creative team, crew orchestra and our NI Opera team who were involved in the huge success of Into the Woods.

The award for Best Opera went to Opera Collective Ireland and Kilkenny Arts Festival for their production of Handel’s Semele which was staged in August and September 2022 with the orchestra Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and Belfast vocal ensemble Sestina. 


Seventeen Northern Ireland arts organisations have been awarded investment grants, totalling £765,000 over the next two years, as part of Arts & Business NI’s Blueprint programme.

The grants will enable the organisations to test ideas and models for growth, such as the development of new creative projects, building skills, reviewing business models and growing organisational capacity. The Blueprint programme also offers tailored training and mentoring to support growth and sustainability.

The full list of recipients includes Andersonstown Traditional & Contemporary Music School, Belfast Exposed, Belfast Photo Festival, The Duncairn Arts Centre, Fighting Words NI, Golden Thread Gallery, HOUSEHOLD, In Your Space Circus, Kids In Control, Maiden Voyage Dance, Replay Theatre Company, Seacourt Print Workshop, Terra Nova Productions, Theatre and Dance NI, University of Atypical, Vault Artist Studios, Young At Art. 



For March 2023 appointments and awards in music, see here

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Published on 19 April 2023

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