Funding, Artists

Gifted musicians invited to apply to BBC NI and Arts Council’s Young Musicians’ Platform Award

18th October, 2022

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, is calling for young, exceptional solo musicians from across Northern Ireland to apply for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians' Platform Award, supported by The National Lottery and BBC Northern Ireland. Online applications are now on the Arts Council of Northern Ireland website and will close at 12noon on Tuesday 15 November 2022.

These prestigious biennial awards, aim to showcase and support the development of six exceptional young musicians from Northern Ireland by providing funding awards, worth £5000 each, to three classical musicians, one jazz musician, one traditional musician and one contemporary singer-songwriter. 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, each recipient receives two professional 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.

Highlighting BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle’s commitment to specialist music and developing new musical talent, four presenters from the station will mentor the young awardees, follow their progress on their programmes and help them prepare for performances with the Ulster Orchestra for live broadcast on 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, Linley Hamilton jazz musician and presenter of Jazz World will mentor the jazz awardee and Stephen McCauley, presenter of The Stephen McCauley Show, will mentor the singer-songwriter awardee.

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

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is hugely proud to support the Young Musicians’ Platform Award thanks to The National Lottery players. We are committed to providing valuable, meaningful opportunities for our most exceptional young talent to develop and excel and the Young Musicians’ Platform Award offers a tremendous opportunity for outstanding young musicians to develop their musical skills, learn from the best in their genre and receive experience of playing with the Ulster Orchestra. All of the previous recipients have gone on to have successful, musical careers and I’ve every confidence that their experience received through this award acted as a powerful catalyst in shaping their professional development.”

Paul McClean, Executive Editor, Music, Arts and Events, BBC Northern Ireland, says,

“We truly believe that BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle is ‘Where Music Matters’ and we are dedicated to providing our listeners with the best in specialist music. Nurturing new talent is something we are extremely passionate about and we are delighted to be involved in finding new classical, alternative, jazz and traditional artists. Being able to have our listeners engage in these young musicians’ journey will be incredible to watch as they grow and develop with some help from John, Lynette, Stephen and Linley, all of whom are music evangelists.”

Those eligible to apply include:

  • Individual classical, jazz, traditional and contemporary singer-songwriter musicians who reside in or originate from Northern Ireland;
  • Artists who are at least 18 years old and up to an age limit of 26 for instrumental players, and 29 for singers;
  • Classical, jazz and traditional musicians who have made a meaningful contribution to artistic activities in Northern Ireland;
  • Applicants must have reached a high standard of public performance as indicated within the references and as demonstrated with a solo recording of two (2) contrasting works of no more than eight (8) minutes each

Previous recipients of the Young Musicians’ Platform Award include acclaimed classical pianist, Michael McHale, soprano, Laura Sheerin, harpist, Richard Allen, violinist, Michael Trainor, baritone, Brian McAlea, folk artists, Conor Mallon, Rose Connolly, Martha Guiney and Niall Hanna and jazz musicians, Ed Dunlop and Katherine Timoney plus singer-songwriter, ROE, among others.

Applications will be assessed by a specialist panel and shortlisted applicants will then be invited to audition between 8 and 9 December in Belfast, where they will be asked to perform two contrasting pieces in style and period, one of which will be contemporary.

Online applications for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Awards are open from Tuesday 18 October and will close at 12noon on Tuesday 15 November. For full eligibility and application details visit