Nils Kavanagh Wins Inaugural Young Irish Jazz Musician Award

Nils Kavanagh

Nils Kavanagh Wins Inaugural Young Irish Jazz Musician Award

Jazz pianist will receive a bursary to attend an international summer school as well as recording and performance opportunities.

Nils Kavanagh, a jazz pianist from Sligo, has won the inaugural Young Irish Jazz Musician Award. The musician was presented the award during a live competition event at University Concert Hall in Limerick on 10 April, organised by Limerick Jazz in association with Improvised Music Company (IMC). 

Kavanagh was selected by a panel including composer Bill Whelan, flute player, composer and broadcaster Ellen Cranitch, and trumpet player, broadcaster and educator Linley Hamilton. ‘This was a very inspiring evening,’ Whelan said. ‘The standard of these young musicians was quite outstanding and bodes very well for the future of Irish music.’

The competition included six finalists aged between 17 and 22 – Cork drummer Michael McCarthy, Dublin guitarist Matthew O’Connell, saxophonist from Clare Jamie Lundy, vocalist and guitarist from Clare, Julie Martin, and Meath drummer Miles Ronayne. 

Kavanagh began playing jazz at age 16 through Sligo Jazz Project – a summer school with workshops, masterclasses and jam sessions. He is currently working as a professional musician in Cardiff and studying Jazz Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. As part of his prize, Kavanagh will record with a professional ensemble and perform in the University Concert Hall Rising Stars Concert alongside other young musicians in classical music and opera. He will also receive a bursary to partake in an international jazz summer school. 

Commenting on the inaugural award, John Daly, Chair of Limerick Jazz, said:

Limerick Jazz are delighted with the success of the first ever Young Irish Jazz Musician event. Our feedback from the finalists and the adjudicators was very positive. The finalists particularly valued the opportunity to rehearse extensively with the house band over the weekend and getting to know their peers from across the country. We are delighted to have IMC as a valued partner for this event.

Kenneth Killeen, Director of IMC, added:

IMC are thrilled to be part of this significant new platform for emerging jazz professionals with the wonderful Limerick Jazz team. It’s been a goal of ours for some time to develop National talent development programmes for Irish artists. Providing this platform to spotlight and acknowledge formative jazz talent is crucial for the long-term development and sustainability of this music. I congratulate Nils on his win as well as the other finalists in what was a top-flight evening of music.

Limerick Jazz and IMC established the Young Irish Jazz Musician Award with the intent of it becoming a regular event in the Irish jazz music scene, aiming to increase interest in jazz music among young people. In addition to this being the first year of the Young Irish Jazz Musician Award, this year marks the 40th anniversary of Limerick Jazz and the 30th anniversary of IMC

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Published on 14 April 2022

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