Latest Music and Arts Appointments and Awards (May 2024)

Maura McGrath – new Chair of the Arts Council

Latest Music and Arts Appointments and Awards (May 2024)

A round-up of recent appointments and awards in music and the arts, compiled by Shannon McNamee, with news from the Arts Council, Dublin Sound Lab, Contemporary Music Centre and Chamber Choir Ireland, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Music Network, Lime Tree Theatre and Belltable, Project Arts Centre, and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, has announced the appointment of Maura McGrath as the new Chair of the Arts Council, with effect from June. Róise Goan, Gary Granville, Brian Ó Gáibhín, Gaby Smyth and Richard Yarr have also been appointed as board members. All appointments are for a five-year term.

Maura McGrath has been a board member of the National Concert Hall since 2014 and Chair since 2016. During her tenure, the National Symphony Orchestra and Choirs transferred from RTÉ to the NCH, and the NCH itself embarked on a major redevelopment plan. She has also held board roles across all sectors in Ireland including the Public Appointments Service and the UMPC Clinic Waterford.

Róise Goan is currently Artistic Coordinator at Kunstencentrum Vierniulvier in Ghent. She was previously the Artistic Director of Artsadmin in London and prior to that she was Director of the Dublin Fringe Festival.

Dr Gary Granville is Emeritus Professor of Education and former Interim Director of the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. He was previously Assistant Chief Executive of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Brian Ó Gáibhín is the Chief Operations Officer of Áras Chrónáin Ionad Cultúir in Dublin. He was previously a primary school teacher, TG4 presenter, and Head of Music at the International School of Chouiefat in the UAE. He has chaired several boards, including South Dublin County Tourism.

Gaby Smyth is a financial and taxation consultant. He has chaired the boards of Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Corn Exchange Theatre Company, and Dublin International Film Festival. He was the inaugural chair of Irish National Opera and has also chaired Amnesty International Ireland and the International Chairs’ Forum for Amnesty International. 

Richard Yarr is a music and arts producer with the BBC, chairperson of the Charles Wood Festival, and Artistic Director of the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition. He also created BBC Northern Ireland’s School Choir of the Year Competition.



Minister Catherine Martin has also appointed Louise Donlon as the new Chair of the Culture Ireland Expert Advisory Committee

Donlon previously served as a member of the Arts Council and on the board of Siamsa Tíre. She is the Executive Director of the Lime Tree Theatre and Belltable in Limerick and has been a member of the Culture Ireland Expert Advisory Committee since 2021. Donlon succeeds musician and broadcaster Kieran Hanrahan and she will serve in the role until 2026.


Louise Donlon


Dublin Sound Lab has announced that the Music Current commission for 2024 has been awarded to Argentinian composer Lautaro Figueroa Balcarce. Figueroa Balcarce will receive an award of €4,000 and will compose a new work incorporating electronics and video projection, set to premiere at the 2025 Music Current festival.

Figueroa Balcarce, currently pursuing a master’s degree in composition at the Hochschule der Künste Bern in Switzerland, has had works performed by groups such as Mivos Quartet and Ensemble Musikfabrik. 

‘Receiving the Music Current Commission Award 2024/2025 fills me with immense joy and gratitude,’ he said. ‘It is an extraordinary opportunity that will allow me to further explore our increasingly intricate relationship with technology, with an emphasis on the interplay between digital and physical realities. This exploration will culminate in the creation and premiere of a new composition for ensemble, electronics and video during the festival. I am deeply grateful to Music Current for believing in my vision and giving me the opportunity to collaborate with exceptional musicians.’

Previous recipients of the Music Current commission include Anna Murray, Panayiotis Kokoras, Brona Martin, Seán O’Dálaigh and João Pedro Oliveira.


Lautaro Figueroa Balcarce

The Contemporary Music Centre (CMC) and Chamber Choir Ireland (CCI) have announced that composers Bianca Gannon, Laura Heneghan and Caterina Schembri have been selected for the 2024 Choral Sketches programme.

The programme offers professional development in choral music composition with mentoring from composer Rhona Clarke. Participants receive one-to-one mentoring and group mentoring sessions leading to a public workshop in September 2024, during which their choral ‘sketches’ will be performed. Following feedback, the works will be developed into completed pieces and performed by CCI in early 2025. Each participant will also receive a €500 stipend from CMC.

Bianca Gannon is an interdisciplinary composer and improviser whose immersive and multi-sensory works incorporate Indonesian percussion. She was previously awarded the King House Piano Commission, Improvised Music Company and Moving on Music’s BAN BAM Award, and the Pythia Prize for composition, as well as partaking in Improvised Music Company’s 30/30 artist development programme.

Composer and pianist Laura Heneghan focuses on chamber and vocal works and has had her work performed in the UK and Ireland by groups such as CCI, Gaia Duo, Con Anima Chamber Choir, Contempo Quartet, and Irish Chamber Brass amongst others. She won the Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition in 2023.

Caterina Schembri is a Dublin-based Italian-Colombian composer and producer whose work explores harmonic and literary motifs within acoustic and hybrid ensembles. Schembri is a founding member of the international sound artists collective Sonic Gate Studios and the general manager of record label Ergodos. She is also currently taking part in the CMC Emerging Composer programme.


Bianca Gannon, Caterina Schembri and Laura Heneghan

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Music Network have announced the 2024 dlr Musicians-in-Residence. Now in its tenth year, the scheme has awarded residencies for two established musicians, percussionist Brian Fleming and violinist Jane Hackett, along with one for an emerging musician, keyboardist Luke Dunford. The residencies run from June to November 2024 and provide each musician with funding, a dedicated workspace, and mentoring to support their career development. 

Fleming will develop new material and offer percussion workshops for people of all ages. On 14 July, he will host sessions on ‘Bodhrán for Beginners’ and ‘Drumming Around the World’, and will co-host a workshop with master djembe player Mamady ‘Sakale’ Condé. Fleming will also perform with traditional band Amerghin on 21 August and on 8 September he will present excerpts from a new one-man show at dlr LexIcon.

Hackett, who specialises in classical and contemporary music, will begin her residency in late September during which she will develop an interactive concert experience for Deaf audiences, in collaboration with composer George Higgs and Deaf artist Lianne Quigley. Hackett’s work will be presented in a multi-sensory concert on 8 November at dlr LexIcon.

As part of his residency, Dunford, a Dublin-based keyboardist working in jazz and funk, will collaborate with songwriter and composer Ciaran O’Malley to write new funk/soul songs for his band Chief Keegan. Their work will be showcased at dlr LexIcon on 10 July.


Jane Hackett

Lime Tree Theatre and Belltable in Limerick have announced Musici Ireland as the Artist-in-Residence for 2024.  Formed in 2012 by violist Beth McNinch, Musici Ireland is a chamber music collective that performs music for a range of different instrumentation. During the residency, Musici Ireland will continue developing the family show SLIME, which explores climate change and the environment for children aged ten to fourteen. The show will be developed with actor/scriptwriters Emma Finnegan and Jimmy Kavanagh, and songwriter Sam Killian.

The group will also build on their multidisciplinary production A Mother’s Voice, a dedication to women affected by the mother and baby homes in Ireland during the 1900s. This production premiered in Cork in January 2023 and has since been performed at the 2023 Rainy Days Festival in Luxembourg. Upcoming performances are scheduled in Ireland, Germany, and America in 2024.


Musici Ireland

Professor Una Hunt has been elected to the Royal Irish Academy for her significant contribution to Irish music research. Hunt, who lectures in Repetiteur and supervises performance research PhDs at the TU Dublin Conservatoire, is the founder and chair of the National Forum for Music Performance Research. She led the PERFORM_LIVE festival at the National Concert Hall in March 2022, produced the first-ever performance in English of Stanford’s Veiled Prophet opera for Wexford Festival Opera in 2019, and, as a concert pianist, has performed with renowned soloists such as James Galway and in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall. She also tours with her violinist sister, Fionnuala, and is a member of several chamber music groups.


Una Hunt

The Board of Project Arts Centre has announced the appointment of Sophie Motley as Artistic Director/CEO. She will begin her new role in August. With over 15 years’ experience, Motley previously served as Artistic Director of The Everyman in Cork where she established artist development programmes and community engagement initiatives. Motley also held the role of Artistic Director/CEO at Pentabus Theatre in the UK and has been Co-Artistic Director of WillFredd Theatre and Associate Director of Rough Magic.

‘Project is an organisation that puts artists at the centre of its existence,’ said Motley. ‘I’ve been privileged to be one of those artists at the beginning of my career, and I look forward to working with the team supporting, developing and presenting the very best of contemporary work in Ireland and internationally. Project is the home of artists and of contemporary excellence. It is also the home of the new, the challenging, and I hope to see many new audiences, artists, communities, stories and forms being created for the first time locally, nationally and internationally on this very exciting journey.’


Sophie Motley


In other recent news, Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre was awarded the Grassroots Venue: Spirit of the Scene award at the Music Week Awards in London earlier this month; and musician, singer, composer and archivist Niamh Ní Charra has been appointed Chairperson of the Archives and Records Association, Ireland.

For April appointments, see here.

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Published on 30 May 2024

Shannon McNamee is Assistant Editor of the Journal of Music.

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