Latest Appointments and Music Awards (December 2020)

Nollaig Casey has been appointed UCC Traditional Artist in Residence.

Latest Appointments and Music Awards (December 2020)

A round-up of recent music and arts appointments and awards at UCC, NUI Galway, Roscommon County Council Arts Office, The Everyman, RIAM, Music Network and Na Píobairí Uilleann. Send your news to [email protected].

Fiddle-player Nollaig Casey has been appointed Traditional Artist in Residence at University College Cork for 2021. She will deliver a series of concerts, workshops and classes over the course of her one-year residency, commencing in January.

An acclaimed fiddle-player, Casey performed as a duo with her late husband Arty McGlynn, and has also performed with her sisters Máire and Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh as The Casey Sisters. Along with her sister Máire, Nollaig is the subject of a new TG4 documentary, Sé Mo Laoch, chronicling her life in music.

As a composer, Casey was recently commissioned, along with her sisters Máire and Mairéad, to write music for the fortieth anniversary of the Cork Folk Festival.  Her compositions have also been used in television series and recorded by artists such as the West Ocean String Quartet and Lúnasa.

Previous traditional artists in residence at UCC include Iarla Ó Lionáird, Niall Vallely, Desi Wilkinson, Karan Casey, Colin Dunne, Jack Talty and Danny O’Mahony.

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Sean-nós singer, musician and composer Saileog Ní Cheannabháin has been appointed sean-nós Singer-in-Residence at NUI Galway for 2021.  She will deliver a series of workshops as well as contributing to the Sean-Nós Archive Collection. The virtual workshops are free and open to the public and will begin in January 2021. Ní Cheannabháin will also perform a concert in the Connemara Gaeltacht as part of her residency next summer.

Commenting on the appointment, Dr Méabh Ní Fhuartháin of the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway said: 

Saileog is among the generation of singers who look to the rich historical tradition of singing from Connemara and build on that in their own performance and practice, and the appointment represents a fantastic opportunity for our students.

In 2012, Saileog released her first album I Bhfíor-Dheiriú Oidhche, followed by Roithleán in 2016. Last month, she performed with her siblings Eoghan and Muireann as part of the National Concert Hall’s Tradition Now weekend.

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Roscommon County Council Arts Office has announced pianist and composer Ryan Molloy as the recipient of the inaugural King House Piano Commission. The award will see Molloy compose a new work for small ensemble including piano. The work will be premiered at Boyle Arts Festival 2021. 

Speaking about receiving the award, Molloy said:

I am honoured to have been selected for the King House Piano Commission and look forward to working on the new piece. I feel that the commission’s themes of embracing the traditional and classical worlds, as well as local and national heritage, resonate strongly with my own performance practice and compositional voice. 

The call for proposals caused me to reflect on the many composer-performers that have emerged from traditional Irish music – many of whom shaped the music for future generations, from Turlough O’Carolan to Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin – and of how challenging one’s own performance can lead to new compositional ideas. I hope to explore this composer-performer duality through the course of this new work and to challenge my fellow musicians as well as myself.

Molloy’s work has been performed across the world over the past fifteen years, in venues such as the National Concert Hall, Kölner Philharmonie in Germany, Holywell Music Room in England and Ulster Hall in Belfast. In November 2019, he released his first solo album as a pianist, titled Pianophony

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The Everyman theatre in Cork has announced the appointment of theatre director Sophie Motley as the organisation’s new Artistic Director, filling the role of her predecessor, Julie Kelleher. 

Motley studied theatre at Trinity College Dublin and completed training on programmes with Rough Magic and the National Theatre Studio in London. She founded WillFredd Theatre and worked as Associate Director of Rough Magic. Since 2016, she has been working with the UK’s national rural theatre company Pentabus as Artistic Director. She also worked as Staff Director at the English National Opera and was Resident Assistant Director at the Abbey Theatre. 

Motley will begin her new role in January 2021 and will step down from her role at Pentabus in February. 

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The winner of the 2020 Irené Sandford Award for Singers has been announced as mezzo-soprano Anna-Helena MacLachlan. The competition, which was broadcast online on 25 and 26 November, commemorates singer Irené Sandford, former Head of Vocal Studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM).

MacLachlan, who receives a prize of €2,000, is a 19-year-old singer from Westmeath. She is currently in her second year of a vocal performance degree at RIAM, studying with Mary Brennan and Dearbhla Collins. She was also recently awarded a bursary in the inaugural Veronica Dunne Bursary for Young Irish Singers.

Soprano Megan O’Neill was awarded runner-up, mezzo-soprano Ellen Kelly received third place, and fourth place was awarded to soprano Louise Florence. Soprano Aimee Banks was awarded Most Promising Performer during the semi-final round, while mezzo-soprano Rachel Conaghan won Best Performance of an Art Song sung in English during the semi-finals also. Soprano Hannah O’Brien was awarded Best Performance of an Aria.

To watch the competition, visit

Music Network has announced the appointment of theatre producer Pat Moylan as its new Chair. Formerly Chair of the Arts Council, Moylan will commence the new role in January 2021. 

Moylan will succeed current Chairman Peter Finnegan, who retires from the Board of Music Network at the end of this year. During Finnegan’s tenure, the work of Music Network advanced significantly, including its touring, commissioning and musician residency programmes, aas well as the establishment of Music Generation.

Commenting on her appointment, Moylan said: 

I have long been an admirer of Music Network’s work, its value to the music sector, its innovative approach to artist development, and its ongoing efforts to promote music to audiences throughout Ireland. I am greatly looking forward to working with Music Network’s board and executive as we enter the next phase of the organisation’s development.

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Na Píobairí Uilleann has announced announced solicitor and former Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland Barra McGrory as a new member of its Board. McGrory has previously served on arts bodies in Northern Ireland. He comes from a family of traditional musicians and is himself a musician. Speaking on behalf of the Board, Chairman Dr Caoimhín Mac Aoidh said:

The Board of Na Píobairí Uilleann is most fortunate to avail of the considerable expertise of such a skilled and dedicated person as Barra McGrory. We greatly look forward to his contributions and working with him on many exciting projects. Na Píobairí Uilleann has achieved astonishing results in its work promoting, developing and passing on the unique tradition of uilleann piping in its more than fifty years of existence. While extraordinary and challenging milestones have been realised and surpassed, it is critical that the Board of Na Píobairí Uilleann continues into the future ensuring the highest standards of governance making certain those seeking to play the music, those who enjoy its performance and the wider public who are disposed to this uniquely Irish instrument continue to appreciate exceptional service.

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Published on 1 December 2020

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