Latest Award and Competition Announcements (July 2020)

Soprano Ava Dodd is this year’s recipient of the RDS Music Bursary (Photo by Orla Murray).

Latest Award and Competition Announcements (July 2020)

A round-up of recent awards and competition announcements with news from the Arts Council, the RDS, the Walled City Music International Online Piano Competition and the Frank Maher Classical Music Awards.

RDS Music Bursary
Soprano Ava Dodd has been announced as the recipient of the 2020 RDS Music Bursary, worth €15,000. The RDS Jado Award, the second prize in the competition, worth €5,000, was awarded to viola player Séamus Hickey. As part of their prizes, both Dodd and Hickey will receive professional engagements with RTÉ orchestras within the next year. 

Dodd has just completed her Bachelor of Music Performance (Vocal Studies) at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) and Trinity College Dublin. She studied with vocal tutor Professor Mary Brennan and répétiteur Dr Dearbhla Collins. In September of this year, she will begin a master’s degree programme at the Royal College of Music in London, studying with Professor Janis Kelly. She also recently won the Most Promising Performer Award and Bursary at the Irene Sandford Competition at the RIAM in 2019, and Young Opera Voice of 2019 at the Northern Ireland Opera Festival of Voice Competition. 

RDS Chief Executive Michael Duffy said:

We wish [Ava Dodd] every success with her postgraduate studies in London and look forward to welcoming her and Séamus Hickey to perform next year in the RDS with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Classical music has a strong tradition in the RDS, and we are excited about supporting talents such as Ava and Séamus … and encouraging these musicians to reach their full potential.

Hickey began studying music at CIT School of Music and is now studying for a bachelor’s degree at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in viola under Nobuko Imai and Marjolein Dispa. 

For more, visit

Next Generation Award
The Arts Council has announced the recipients of the Next Generation bursary, designed to support artists of all disciplines at an early stage in their careers. Twenty-three emerging artists in the fields of music, opera, dance, film, theatre, literature, visual arts, architecture and circus have been awarded €20,000, which is to go towards developing their practice. 

Galway singer/songwriter Maija Sofia, cellist Aoife Burke and songwriter Philip Christie were awarded the bursary in the music category and Wexford pianist Rebecca Warren was awarded the bursary in the opera category. 

The full list includes Roisin Agnew (literature), Natasha Bourke (circus), Avril Corroon , Dorje De Burgh (visual arts), Shaun Dunne (film) Hugh Farrell (theatre), Kevin Gaynor (visual arts), Sinéad Gleeson (literature), Genevieve Hulme-beaman (theatre), Lucia Kickham (dance), Jane Madden (theatre),  Sinead ‘Roe’ McDermott (literature), Oisín McKenna (literature), Laura Ní Fhlaibhín (visual arts), Andrew Ó Murchú (architecture), Aisling O’Mara (theatre), Eva Richardson McCrea (visual arts), Ciara Smyth (theatre), and Saoirse Wall (visual arts).

The artists will take part in a group week-long residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Monaghan where they will engage with mentors and be provided with other supports to aid in the development of their practice. 

Arts Council Director Maureen Kennelly said:

All of these artists have demonstrated an exceptional ambition and vision for their work, and the Arts Council is delighted to support them. I look forward to following them in their work over the coming years.

For more, visit

Walled City Music International Online Piano Competition
The Walled City Music International Online Piano Competition has announced Elzbieta Bilicka as this year’s winner. The US-based pianist will receive a prize of €2,000 for her performances of works by Schubert, Chopin, Ravel and Syzmanowski. 

Second place was awarded to Canadian pianist Alexander Malikov and third place to American pianist Katherine Benson. Three special prizes were also awarded: Best performance of a contemporary work: Katherine Benson for Hiromi Uehara’s The Tom and Jerry Show; Best performance of an Irish contemporary work: Clara Siegle for Marian Ingoldsby’s Ros Tapestry Suite – Exchange; and Best performance of a work by a diverse composer: Ghadeer Abaido from Jordan for Julia Perry’s Prelude for Piano.

The competition process saw musicians submit their performances via video that were then judged by a panel of adjudicators including pianists Barry Douglas and Awadagin Pratt.

Bilicka placed first out of a total of forty other participating pianists and she will also receive a solo performance slot at next year’s Walled City Music Festival in Derry. 

Commenting on her win, Bikicka said:

I would like to thank the jury members for appreciating my work and congratulate the organisers on making this competition run so smoothly in the online format. It is my first contest after a four-year break, while I moved country and finished my studies, and the fact that my ‘come back’ has been so successful is exceptionally important to me.

For more, see:

Frank Maher Classical Music Awards
The Frank Maher Classical Music Awards have announced that the 2020 competition will go ahead and is now open for applications. The awards are open to students in sixth year in Irish schools and the top prize of €5,000 prize must be used by the winner to attend a recognised place of tuition, a course of study in Ireland or abroad or on any purchase necessary for the development of their career. 

The competition will take place in October. It will be run subject to Covid-19 protocols and this means some changes from previous years. While finalists will be performing live as usual, it will be for the judges only and not for an invited audience.

All finalists will each receive a €300 bursary. 11 September is the deadline for applying. 

For full details, visit:

Published on 30 July 2020

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