Latest Appointments and Awards in Music (December 2023)

Niamh Dunne

Latest Appointments and Awards in Music (December 2023)

A round-up of recent appointments and awards in music, compiled by Shannon McNamee, with news from Maynooth University, the Arts Council and University College Cork, the Royal Philharmonic Society, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, the National Concert Hall and Music Leaders Network.

The Arts Council and University College Cork (UCC) have announced the appointment of singer and fiddle player Niamh Dunne as the UCC Traditional Artist in Residence for 2024. During her one-year residency starting in January 2024, Dunne will conduct a variety of concerts, workshops and events across the UCC campus.

Dunne is a well-known solo musician, having released her debut album Tides in 2022, and is also a member of the folk group Beoga. She has extensive experience in composition and performance, including collaborations with Ed Sheeran and performances with the Ulster Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.


Elizabeth Hilliard

The Department of Music at Maynooth University has announced the appointment of soprano Elizabeth Hilliard as the Artist in Residence for the academic year 2023–24. This role was first established in 2022, in collaboration with Kildare County Council Arts Service, and Music Generation Kildare, Offaly, and Westmeath. The residency is designed to provide students and the wider communities in Kildare, Offaly and Westmeath the opportunity to work with Hilliard, as well as supporting her in her own practice.

Hilliard’s work is rooted in contemporary vocal music and she has collaborated with many artists including Gráinne Mulvey, Jennifer Walshe, Christopher Fox and David Bremner. In the past year, she has given solo recitals at New Music Dublin and soundfestival in Aberdeen, and undertaken a nationwide Music Network tour with Jennifer Walshe, Panos Ghikas and Nick Roth. Her debut release Sea to the West (2016) was followed by Great Women (2021), both on the Métier label. In 2021 she presented the 8-part feature series How The World Begins Again on RTÉ lyric fm.

‘A richly talented performer and gifted communicator, Elizabeth brings skills and experience that promise to expand and deepen the work of the department, enrich the cultural life of the university and forge new links with the community,’ said Professor Christopher Morris, the Department’s Director of Performance. ‘Comprising imaginative performances and innovative workshops, Elizabeth’s residency will offer our students a range of novel learning experiences and showcase new models of creative practice.’


Ann Murray

The National Concert Hall (NCH) has announced mezzo-soprano Ann Murray as the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award for 2024. The award will be presented at a gala concert on 30 January 2024 at 7.30pm, which will pay tribute to Murray’s illustrious career. Hosted by RTÉ’s Sean Rocks, the event will feature the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Peter Whelan.

Known for her performances in the mezzo-soprano roles of Handel, Mozart and Strauss operas, Murray has appeared on stages in major cities worldwide, including London, Paris and New York. Her career includes significant roles at the English National Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and her accolades include an honorary Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (2002), the Bavarian Order of Merit (2004), the Wigmore Hall Gold Medal (2007), and an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the National University of Ireland (1997).



Fergus Sheil and family

Irish National Opera Artistic Director Fergus Sheil has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Letters by Trinity College Dublin (TCD). The award was presented during a ceremony on 1 December and recognises Sheil’s extensive achievements in opera and music.  

Sheil graduated in Music from Trinity in 1992 and founded and conducted the Trinity Orchestra during his college years. He has since developed and taught the From Page to Stage module for current music students at Trinity. 

His international career has seen him conduct 51 different operas, including 21 world premieres, and produce over 60 operas globally. His work spans performances, recordings and film projects with groups such as the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, and Irish Chamber Orchestra. 

Sheil was a founder of Irish National Opera (INO), which, in just five years, has had a major impact in Ireland, drawing in new audiences, winning international awards, and providing opportunities for a range of Irish and international talent. The company has also diversified into various innovative projects, including online productions, site-specific performances, and technological integrations such as an app for audio syncing with outdoor screenings. 


Sinéad Hayes (Photo: Neil Harrison)

Conductor Sinéad Hayes has been selected for the 2024–25 Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Women Conductors programme. She joins eight other female composers in this development programme, which aims to support female conductors from the UK and Ireland.

The programme, offered in partnership with the Glasshouse International Centre for Music, will provide participants with twice yearly engagements with the Royal Northern Sinfonia (RNS), ongoing support from RPS and RNS, and dedicated mentoring from Alice Farnham, the programme’s founder. Central to the programme is the chance for the conductors to refine their skills through quality rehearsal time with the orchestra.

The other selected conductors are Charlotte Corderoy, Constança Simas, Josephine Korda, Lada Valesova, Michal Oren, Oi Ching Chan, Peggy Wu and Tess Jackson.

Hayes, who is also a violinist and pianist, has extensive experience as a conductor, including a ten-year tenure with the Hard Rain SoloistEnsemble in Belfast, productions for Northern Ireland Opera, Opera Collective Ireland and Irish National Opera, and she is also conductor of the Royal Irish Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra.


Dr Seán Clancy

The UCD School of Music has announced the appointment of Dr Seán Clancy as Assistant Professor and Ad Astra Fellow. Clancy, previously a Senior Lecturer and BMus Composition coordinator at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, began his new role on 1 December. 

In his initial phase at UCD, Clancy’s focus will be primarily on research. From the academic year 2024–25, he will begin teaching on the MMus Music and Culture programme. His responsibilities will expand in 2025–26 to include more extensive undergraduate teaching. Additionally, as part of the Ad Astra Fellowship scheme, Clancy will supervise a fully-funded PhD studentship, which is set to be advertised in early 2024.

‘I’m thrilled to be joining an environment that foregrounds thinking about music, its importance to us as people, and its role in society; and I’m eager to develop my own practice as a composer and a teacher in this new terrain,’ said Clancy. ‘Having worked at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for thirteen years, and as a UCD alumnus, I’m overjoyed by the prospect of returning home to the community where my academic journey began, and I look forward to hitting the ground running.’



Anna Rosa Mari

The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland (NYOI) has appointed Anna Rosa Mari as its new General Manager. Mari, who has extensive experience in arts education, management, and artistic leadership, succeeds Carol-Ann Trela in the role.

Mari is a flautist, orchestral musician and recording artist, with a decade of experience in her field. She is currently the Academic Director of OAcademy: The Orchestra of the Americas Group in Washington D.C., where she leads a digital conservatoire for professional musicians worldwide. Mari will assume her role in mid-February.

The NYOI’s upcoming winter concert is scheduled for 3 January 2024 at the Helix Theatre, Dublin, featuring works by Mel Bonis, Sibelius, and Debussy, conducted by Corrina Niemeyer and with violin soloist Mairéad Hickey.


Gill Dooley

Gill Dooley, CEO of AIM Ireland, has been selected as Ireland’s first representative in the Music Leaders Network, a leadership programme for women in the music industry. The programme is now in its fifth year and includes mid-career women from various sectors of the industry. Dooley joins 11 other participants from organisations such as PRS and PPL, as well as music creators and members of the academic community.

Dooley brings over two decades of experience to the programme. She has played a key role in growing AIM Ireland, Ireland’s national association for independent music. Her career began at EMI, followed by roles at RMG Chart, TWL in New Zealand, Hot Press, and Universal Music, where she served as Director of Digital & Business Development for over 11 years.

In addition to her role at AIM Ireland, Dooley is an independent music consultant, mentor and artist manager. She has contributed as a commercial consultant to an Enterprise Ireland-funded audio tech project and offers mentor services through Keychange’s partnership with – we.grow, Minding Creative Minds, and private clients. Dooley also holds positions on the boards of IMPALA and the European Music Managers Alliance.


The Arts Council has also recently announced the appointment of Sinéad O’Reilly as the organisation’s new Arts Director, Multi Disciplinary Arts, and Clare County Council has appointed Carmel Ryan to the role of Assistant Arts Officer.


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For November appointments, see here.

Published on 19 December 2023

Shannon McNamee is Assistant Editor of the Journal of Music.

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