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Applications open for Young Musicians’ Platform Awards

Friday 20th June 2014 at 9am 0 Comments Music & Opera

The Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform is a biennial scheme which this year will recognise the talents of five high quality musicians through the provision of five individual awards of £5,000 Image: The Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform is a biennial scheme which this year will recognise the talents of five high quality musicians through the provision of five individual awards of £5,000

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland in collaboration with BBC Northern Ireland is now calling for applications for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians' Platform Award.  The Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Award showcases and supports the development of exceptional and talented young Northern Ireland musicians.  

For the first time, the awards will extend beyond the classical music arena and will now also be offered to musicians from jazz and traditional Irish Music backgrounds.

The Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform is a biennial scheme which this year will recognise the talents of five high quality musicians through the provision of five individual awards of £5,000. This financial award enables recipients to spend a sizeable amount of time learning from a master musician, mentor, teacher or composer either in Northern Ireland or abroad.  As well as this training opportunity, recipients receive two professional radio broadcast engagements, including one with the Ulster Orchestra between January to December 2015. 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 Young Musicians’ Platform includes;

• Three classical awards

• One jazz award

• One traditional Irish music award

Highlighting BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle’s commitment to specialist music and developing new musical talent, this year three presenters from the station will mentor the young musicians as well as following their progress on their programmes and helping them prepare for performances with The Ulster Orchestra for BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle concerts. John Toal, a classical pianist and presenter of Sounds Classical will mentor the three classical musicians; Folk Club presenter, musician and singer-songwriter Colum Sands will mentor the traditional musician; and jazz musician, educator and presenter Linley Hamilton will mentor the young jazz musician.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, at the Arts Council, commented: “The Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Award is an 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: “This week the BBC’s Director General Tony Hall outlined his ambitions for music at the BBC, an announcement which complements our ambitions perfectly. At BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle 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.”

John Toal says: “We have guests on Sounds Classical now whom I remember when they were still at school and playing in Youth Orchestras. I can just about remember when I was. So the idea that the BBC can, as an organisation, be part of the development and nurturing of someone’s musical career - and that I’ll be privileged to be involved in - is fantastic. Just wish I’d done a bit more piano practice myself, though.”

Colum Sands says: “I'm delighted that this music award has been broadened to encourage the work of traditional musicians. It is often said that traditional music is "handed down" but I feel that young people "hand it up" as well when they breathe new life into tunes and songs that have stood the test of time and add new elements and energy of their own. I'm sure that I'll be inspired by some of that energy as an outstanding young musician sets out on this vast adventure and I hope to share some of my own experiences on how music is such a special force in crossing all sorts of boundaries to connect people all over the world. Great journeys make for amazing learning experiences and wonderful stories and I'm really looking forward to sharing each step of this new musical journey with listeners to Folk Club.”

Linley Hamilton says: “I am really excited about this project as I think this is a real opportunity to promote a young champion for jazz and give them a platform to create and innovate as well structure a career. It will also help audiences to form a long term relationship with a musician who is liable to be an ambassador for arts in Northern Ireland, bringing attention to us here, creating visibility for an already growing scene and the obvious exchange that will attract other musicians to tour here and give our young champion an opportunity to make connections with international musicians. It will be exciting seeing them bloom over the two years of the project, and provide a vehicle for them to have their profile, music and performances brought to a wider audience. Jazz in Northern Ireland has an open door policy. We want to welcome in new blood, inspire it, educate it, develop it and provide it with a platform.”

Previous recipients of the award include Derry~Londonderry's Laura Sheerin, soprano with Opera NI, violinist Michael Trainor, celebrated pianist Michael McHale and clarinetist Sarah Smith.

Speaking about the award, Laura Sheerin said, “The Young Musicians' Platform Award has been incredibly beneficial for me as a developing artist. It has opened up significant opportunities, which would otherwise be financially out of reach. Over the last year and a half I have privately studied with the world renowned soprano, Nelly Miricioiu in London, performed with the Ulster Orchestra and been broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster's Sound Classical programme. I was privileged to receive an invitation from HM Queen Elizabeth to Windsor Castle as part of the Irish State Visit representing the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and young musicians of Northern Ireland. The award will also enable me to travel to Italy this summer to attend the Italian Opera Summer School in Puglia, and the Mediterranean Opera Studio in Catania, Sicily. The award has been invaluable in allowing me the opportunity to enhance my skills, develop my career and bridge the gap between study and professional working life.”

The closing date for applications is Thursday 2nd October at 4.00pm. 

Applications will be assessed by a specialist panel and shortlisted applicants will then be invited to audition in Belfast in late October 2014, where they will be asked to perform three contrasting pieces in style and period. 

Applications forms and information are available in large print format, disc and audio tape.  For assistance contact the Arts Council’s Arts Development Team on 028 9038 5200. 

In Conversation: Ciaran Scullion meets the Young Musicians Platform Recipients from Arts Council of Northern Ireland on Vimeo.

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