Grants open to young maestros

Mezzo soprano Dawn Burns.
Mezzo soprano Dawn Burns.

The Arts Council and the BBC are calling for young musicians from Londonderry to apply for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Award.

The biennial awards will provide awards, worth £5000 each, to three classical musicians, a jazz musician and a traditional Irish musician.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, at the Arts Council, said: “The Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Award is a unique 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 live 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.”

Fergus Keeling, Head of Radio, 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, Colum and Linley, each of whom are extremely talented musicians with a deep love of music.”

Previous recipients of the award include Dawn Burns, mezzo soprano, and Marcella Walsh, soprano, who will both perform in Gillbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado at the Grand Opera House from June 9.

Dawn said: “The Young Musicians’ Platform Award has been hugely beneficial to me as a young opera singer. The early days of a career in opera are financially straining and the award has enabled me to pursue paths that may otherwise have unavailable to me.

“Not only have I been studying with some of the best artists in my field, I have also been able to develop my language skills with a view to applying for opera studios in Europe in the future.

“As well as the financial support, the award has opened up some fantastic performance opportunities; in the past year or so I have performed in concert with the Ulster Orchestra, sung live on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ and represented Northern Irish artists on the Brussels Platform.

“The award is a truly unique opportunity and I’m grateful to the Arts Council and BBC for enabling me to enhance my development as an artist and young professional.”

Applications for the Young Musician’s Platform Awards are open from today, Monday, June 6 and will close at 4pm on Thursday, October 6.

Visit for full information. Applications will be assessed by a specialist panel and shortlisted applicants will then be invited to audition in Belfast in early November 2016, where they will be asked to perform three contrasting pieces in style and period.

Applications forms and information are also available in large print format, disc and audio tape. For assistance contact the Arts Council’s Arts Development Team on 028 92 623555.