Latest Appointments and Awards in Music (May 2023)

Jennifer Walshe – announced as Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Composer in Residence. (Photo © Pieter Kers, courtesy of Sonic Acts Festival)

Latest Appointments and Awards in Music (May 2023)

A round-up of recent appointments and awards with news from Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival, Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, Queen's University Belfast, Royal Irish Academy of Music, the Pulitzer Prize, the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras and Hot Press.

Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival has announced Jennifer Walshe as Composer in Residence for hcmf// 2023. The festival, which showcases new and experimental music, will present its 46th edition from 17 to 26 November. 

 Throughout her residency, Walshe will explore various aspects of her work, including composition, installation, film, improvisation, artificial intelligence (AI), and performance.

Walshe’s compositions and performances have garnered recognition worldwide, with numerous commissions, broadcasts and presentations across different countries. She currently holds the position of Professor of Composition at the University of Oxford.

Commenting on the news, Walshe said:

I am delighted to be this year’s Composer in Residence. Like many musicians, I’ve a long-standing relationship with the festival – I first came to Huddersfield in 2001 as a student. It’s fantastic to be invited as the Composer in Residence, with a sense of the festival, the town, the audience.

Walshe’s residency at hcmf// 2023 is part of a three-year collaboration with Culture Ireland that began in 2022. The partnership aims to promote Irish artists and provide them with opportunities to reach wider global audiences.



The West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival, with the Contemporary Music Centre (CMC), has announced flute player and pianist Donnchadh Mac Aodha as the winner of the 2023 Composition Competition for Emerging Composers. 

Mac Aodha’s winning composition, Music for flute and a 2-handed pianist, received its premiere at the festival’s Rising Stars Concert on 20 May at Russborough House featuring Amy Gillen on flute and Frasier Hickland on piano. The concert was recorded for future broadcast by RTÉ Lyric FM. 

Mac Aodha is a composer and multi-instrumentalist from Dundalk, Co. Louth. He is pursuing a BMus degree as a Quercus Creative & Performing Arts Scholar at UCC, studying composition under John Godfrey. Drawing from his background in traditional Irish and classical music, Mac Aodha’s compositions reflect a fusion of both. In 2020, he won first prize in the composition competition at the New Ross Piano Festival with his work Music in the Tuileries, which was premiered by Finghin Collins at the festival. He is a member of the Irish Composers’ Collective and recently premiered a film score and a piece for clarinet and electronics at their festival. His composition Port na bPúcaí was performed by the Ficino Ensemble at the Irish Composition Summer School in 2022. 



The Blackwater Valley Opera Festival (BVOF) has unveiled the winners of its 2023 Bursary Award. Violinist Phoebe White and bass Fionn Ó hAlmhain have been selected as this year’s recipients.

Established in 2020 with the support of a private donor, the BVOF Bursary Award aims to discover and nurture exceptional young talent in the field. Dieter Kaegi, the festival’s Artistic Director and co-founder, selects the winners.

White and Ó hAlmhain will each receive a prize of €5,000 to support their musical development. As ambassadors for the festival they will have the opportunity to perform in a special recital at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in 2024. 

The Blackwater Valley Opera Festival began yesterday (29 May) and runs until 5 June in venues throughout the Blackwater Valley region in Waterford and Cork.  



Úna Monaghan has been appointed Lecturer in Sound and Music at the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. 

Monaghan is a musician, composer, researcher and sound engineer whose work spans the fields of Irish traditional music, experimental music practices, improvisation and interactive technologies. In January 2023, she released the record Aonaracht – a collection of works for solo traditional musicians and computer. 

Monaghan’s contributions to music and research have been recognised with the inaugural Liam O’Flynn Award from the Arts Council and the National Concert Hall Dublin in 2019, as well as a BAN BAM award from Moving On Music and Improvised Music Company in 2020.



The Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) has appointed Professor Diane Daly as new Head of Strings and Professor Tanya Gabrielian as Head of Keyboard for a term of five years each. 

Professor Daly takes over from Professor Sarah Sew, who held the position of Head of Strings for five years, while Professor Gabrielian succeeds Professor Colma Brioscú, who was the Head of Keyboard for eight years. Both Sew and Brioscú will remain part of the RIAM teaching faculty from the academic year 2023/2024. 

Professor Daly is an experienced violinist, educator and innovator. She has performed with orchestras and ensembles such as the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the European Union Chamber Orchestra and she has been a member of the Irish Chamber Orchestra since 1997. Prior to joining RIAM, Professor Daly served as the Course Director of the MA in Classical String Performance at the University of Limerick. 

Professor Tanya Gabrielian is a well-known pianist who has performed in prestigious venues across the world including Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Sydney Opera House, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall, and the Salle Cortot in Paris. She has performed with orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Boston Pops. Prior to her appointment at RIAM, Professor Gabrielian held the position of Chair of Piano at Boston University.

Daly and Gabrielian take up their appointments from the academic year 2023/2024.

Commenting on the announcements, Deborah Kelleher, Director of the RIAM, said: 

I am delighted that Diane Daly and Tanya Gabrielian have joined the RIAM in these important leadership roles as Head of Strings and Head of Keyboard at an exciting time of change and development for our organisation. Both experienced performers and dedicated educators, I am confident that their passion, energy and vision will see exciting new curricula and partnership developments under their leadership.



The 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Music has been awarded to Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels for their opera Omar. The work, which premiered at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, explores the experiences of enslaved individuals from Muslim countries brought to North America. Through the work, Giddens and Abels represent African and African American traditions and highlight the humanity of those subjected to bondage. 

Folk musician and multi-instrumentalist Giddens is renowned for her work which spans across the genres of folk, blues, country, jazz and soul. As a co-founder of the Grammy Award-winning band Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens has achieved critical acclaim and earned multiple Grammy nominations. In 2022 she was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album for her record They’re Calling Me Home. Based in Limerick for over a decade, Giddens is Artist-in-Residence at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. Abels is a two-time Emmy-nominated composer who has gained recognition for his scores in films like Get Out and Us. 



Katharine Mac Mághnuis has been appointed as the new Director of the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras National Chamber Music Workshops. With over 10 years’ experience as a tutor at these workshops, Mac Mághnuis brings a range of expertise to her new role. She succeeds the outgoing Director, Katharina Baker. 

Mac Mághnuis is the co-founder and CEO of Athenry Music School, a not-for-profit community music school that houses eight orchestras and choirs, a chamber music programme, and serves over 600 students. She currently conducts and composes as the director of the Athenry Youth Orchestra programme and is also a co-founder and Director of the OURchestra Summer Camp.

Mac Mághnuis actively performs in chamber music and is a founding member of the Luminosa String Orchestra and has held the position of deputy leader in the Irish Memory Orchestra since 2017. She also performs with Vespera, Galway’s Baroque Orchestra, and has a keen interest in traditional fiddle music. 



Galway singer-songwriter Brad Heidi has been announced as the winner of the Hot Press A New Local Hero competition, which took place as part of the Irish Music Month project. Heidi won the competition during a live performance event at the Academy in Dublin last month. 

As part of his prize, Heidi will receive the opportunity to record a single at Camden Recording Studios in Dublin that will be released on independent Irish label Rubyworks.

Irish Music Month is a collaboration between Hot Press and the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland and receives support from Coimisiún na Meán, MCD Productions, IMRO, Live Nation, RAAP, Ticketmaster, Rubyworks and Camden Recording Studios.

The judging panel responsible for the shortlisting process comprised individuals from the music industry including Cian Boylan (Camden Recording Studios), Ruth-Anne Cunningham (artist and songwriter), Keith Johnson (IMRO), Róisín O’Reilly (artist and songwriter/RAAP), Lucy O’Toole (Hot Press), and Roger Quail (Rubyworks).



For April 2023 appointments and awards in music, see here

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Published on 30 May 2023

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