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BBC Northern Ireland and Arts Council seeking gifted, young musicians

Thursday 6th September 2018 at 3pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Pictured are previous classical awardees, Dawn Burns and Marcella Walsh. Image: Pictured are previous classical awardees, Dawn Burns and Marcella Walsh.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, is now calling for young, exceptional musicians from across the region to apply for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians' Platform Award.

These prestigious and valuable biennial awards aim to showcase and support the development of five exceptional young Northern Ireland musicians by providing funding awards, worth £5000 each, to three classical musicians, one jazz musician and one traditional musician.  This financial award enables recipients to develop their musical aspirations by spending a sizeable amount of time learning from a master musician, mentor, teacher or composer either in Northern Ireland or abroad. 

In addition to this training opportunity, recipients receive two professional radio broadcast engagements with BBC Northern Ireland, including one with the Ulster Orchestra.  Performances at this level raise not only the professional profile of the young musician but also give a boost to their performance experience.

The music genres covered by the award includes three classical awards, one jazz award and one traditional music award.

Highlighting BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle’s commitment to specialist music and developing new musical talent, three presenters from the station will mentor the young awardees as well, follow their progress on their programmes and help them prepare for performances with the Ulster Orchestra for live BBC Radio Ulster.  John Toal, a classical pianist and presenter of Classical Connections will mentor the three classical awardees; Folk Club presenter, Lynette Fay, will mentor the traditional awardee; and Linley Hamilton jazz musician and presenter of Jazz World will mentor the jazz awardee.

Previous traditional music awardee, Niall Hanna, was able to use the award to record and release his debut album, Autumn Winds, in 2018.  Commenting on his experience Niall said,

“As soon as I found I had got the Young Musicians’ Platform Award, I started to plan my album with my producer, Donal O’Connor.  As part of the award I was also able to play a series of solo concerts, something new for me, and try out material before it was released.  My BBC mentor, Lynette Fay, was also wonderfully supportive in helping get the music out there and played on radio. ”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, at the Arts Council, commented:

“The Young Musicians’ Platform Award is a tremendous opportunity for our outstanding young musicians to develop their musical skills, learn from the best in their genre and receive professional experience of playing with a professional orchestra.  All of the previous recipients have gone on to have successful, professional careers and I’ve every confidence that their experience received through this award acted as an exceptional platform to shaping their development.”

Emma Dunseith, Executive Editor Arts, Music and Learning, BBC Northern Ireland, says:

“At BBC Radio Ulster we are dedicated to providing our listeners with the best in specialist music and nurturing new talent is something we are extremely passionate about. We are delighted to be involved in finding new classical, jazz and traditional artists and to be able to have our listeners engage in their journey as they grow and develop with some help from John, Lynette and Linley, each of whom are extremely talented musicians with a deep love of music.”

Applications for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Awards are open from Thursday 6 September and will close on Thursday 25 October.  Visit 

Applications will be assessed by a specialist panel and shortlisted applicants will then be invited to audition at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast in early November 2018, where they will be asked to perform three contrasting pieces in style and period.


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