Latest Music Awards and Appointments (November 2021)

Pianist Stan O’Beirne is the winner of the 2021 Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards (Photo: Peter Houlihan).

Latest Music Awards and Appointments (November 2021)

A round-up of recent appointments and awards including the Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards, the Handel Singing Competition, Irish National Opera, Opera North, the National Space Centre in Cork, and the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards.

Eighteen-year-old pianist Stan O’Beirne from Dublin is the winner of this year’s Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards. The award carries a prize of €5,000 which can be used to assist in the winning musician’s education and career. Six finalists competed on Friday 29 October at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum, Dublin, and O’Beirne performed two pieces, Chopin’s Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38, and Rachmaninoff’s Moment Musicaux No. 4 in E Minor.

The other finalists each received a €300 bursary. They were: Sidi Bao (17), Sandford Park School, Dublin (violin); Eimear Boyle (18), Midleton College, Cork (flute); Anna Jansson (18), St Angela’s College, Cork (piano); Claire O’Connor (18), Muckross Park College Dublin (violin); and Gerry Yang (17) Sandford Park School (piano).

Commenting on his win, O’Beirne said:

I prepared so much, and I put so much emotional energy into my performance on the night, it’s just an amazing feeling to have won. Thank you again to Top Security for sponsoring this competition and I am going to put my prize money towards saving for a new piano.

The judging panel included Dr Gerard Gillen, Emeritus Professor of Music at NUI Maynooth; Dr Kerry Houston, Head of Academic Studies at TU Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama; and classical pianist Veronica McSwiney.

The aim of the awards is to celebrate outstanding young musical talent in Irish sixth-year students of strings, woodwind, brass and piano. Previous winners include violinist Julieanne Forrest (2020), cellist Michael Murphy (2019), and pianist Kevin Jansson (2018). 


London-based soprano Hilary Cronin is the winner of the 2021 Handel Singing Competition, which took place last month and carries a prize of £5,000. She performed selections from Handel’s Rinaldo and Semele and Brockes Passion. The other finalists were baritone Kieran Rayner, mezzo-soprano Bethany Horak-Hallet and baritone Felix Kemp

All four finalists performed with Laurence Cummings and the London Handel Orchestra in front of a live audience at St George’s in Hanover Square, London. The event was also livestreamed online. The jury for the competition this year included Ian Partridge, Catherine Denley, Michael George, Tim Mead and Andrew Staples.

Horak-Hallett won the £2000 Second Prize. In addition to the cash prizes, the competition offers the finalists guaranteed performance opportunities at the London Handel Festival.

Gregory Batsleer, Festival Director, said:

Many congratulations to Hilary Cronin whose performance captivated us all who were there. We look forward to welcoming all finalists back to future festivals and watching their careers flourish. Nurturing the careers of young musicians is and will continue to be at the core of this festival’s mission. A huge thanks to all those particular individuals who supported this wonderful evening.

The next Handel Singing Competition will take place in spring 2022.


Irish National Opera has appointed Elaine Kelly to the new position of Resident Conductor. In this role she will work as conductor, assistant conductor and chorus director in INO productions from 2021 to 2023.

Kelly is an award-winning choral and orchestral conductor. She was the Music Director of the University of Limerick Orchestra from 2019 until this year, and was with the Dublin Symphony Orchestra before that. She has also worked with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Cork Concert Orchestra. From 2019 to 2021, she participated in INO’s ABL Aviation Opera Studio.

Commenting on her appointment, Kelly said:

I am thrilled to be joining the team of Irish National Opera as Resident Conductor. The past two years as conductor on the ABL Aviation Opera Studio have been extraordinary and have provided me with a wealth of experience and opportunities. INO is such a young, dynamic, inspiring and innovative company; I am looking forward to continuing my work with them and excited for all the possibilities and collaborations over the coming years.

Kelly will conduct INO’s upcoming tour of The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies.


Opera North has announced that French-British conductor Kay Salomon will take part in the company’s new Female Conductor Traineeship later this year. The ten-week traineeship was devised in recognition of the fact that female conductors are less likely to find a way into the industry, and will offer Salomon conducting experience and support. The project is funded by the Harewood Young Artists Fund as part of the Opera North Future Fund.

‘Young conductors can feel rather vulnerable when finishing music college, but being offered this traineeship is a real confidence booster,’ said Salomon, who was awarded her master’s degree in conducting from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama this summer. ‘I cannot express how excited I was to be selected for the traineeship. I am incredibly grateful to Opera North for being so committed to supporting young female conductors and offering such a unique opportunity.’

For more, visit:

The National Space Centre (NSC) in Cork in partnership with Greywood Arts has selected Swedish sculptor Nicklas Lundberg as Artist in Residence for a new project focused on space waste. Lundberg, whose work is centred around sculptural sound works, will travel to Ireland at the beginning of November for the month-long a residency, which examines waste produced by the acceleration of space technology. 

Lundberg will have access to space waste provided by the NSC including circuit boards, assemblies, and data subframes, as well as to radio waves captured by the centre’s 32m Big Dish. The results of the residency, which is supported by Cork County Council, will be on exhibit at the NSC from 3 to 5 December. 


The winners of the 2021 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards were announced yesterday (1 November) during a ceremony at London’s Wigmore Hall. Thirteen awards were presented to individuals and groups during the event, which was hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenter Katie Derham and RPS Chief Executive James Murphy, with trophies presented by RPS Chairman John Gilhooly.

English National Opera received the Impact Award for its ‘ENO Breathe’ project that helped hundreds of long-Covid sufferers, while the Bristol Choral Society received the new Inspiration Award, as voted for by the public. Contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment were awarded the Young Artist Award; mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston received the award in the Singer category; and Dunedin Consort won best Ensemble. 

RPS Chairman John Gilhooly said:

For so many of us, music has been a lifeline through the last eighteen months. It’s an honour for the Royal Philharmonic Society to salute the brilliance and resilience of musicians nationally through the pandemic, giving the best of themselves for others, at times of immense personal challenge. This year’s RPS Awards winners are representative of countless music-makers across the UK whom we should all treasure: they have collectively kept our spirits high and will continue to play an invaluable, central role in the nation’s recovery.

See the full list of winners here:

See here for September’s appointments in music. 

Published on 2 November 2021

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