CORK teenagers proved themselves top of the classical pops recently, making up four of the six finalists at the Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards.
The prize of €5,000 was awarded to Michael Murphy, who plays the cello. The 18-year-old is a sixth-year student at Presentation Brothers College.
He performed two pieces; ‘Requiebros’ by composer Gaspar Cassado and Movement 3 from Cello Sonata in G Minor OP 19 by Rachmaninoff on his way to winning the bursary which will be used to help boost his career. The money can be used to attend a recognised place of tuition, a course of study in Ireland or abroad, or on a purchase necessary for the development of his talent.
Michael was over the moon with his win, and has already decided what the money will be spent on.
“It was an incredible night and I’m absolutely amazed and delighted to have won,” he said. “I plan to use my prize to go towards the cost of a new bow and pay for masterclasses in the UK, Germany, and France.”
The other Cork finalists, who were each presented with a €300 bursary, were 17-year-old violinist Michelle McCarthy of St Angela’s College; harpist Eimear McDonagh (18) from Mount Mercy College, and flautist Holly Nagle from Bruce College (17).
Competing alongside them were Maria Fay from St Mary’s College, Naas, Co Kildare, who plays the French Horn, and pianist Justin O’Hagan from Coláiste Rís, Dundalk, Co Louth.
The 2018 winner, pianist Kevin Jansson from Cork, who is now studying at the Juilliard School in New York, returned to perform Chopin Ballade No 1 (Op 23, G minor).
Celebrated musician and songwriter Phil Coulter acted as master of ceremonies for the evening as the six finalists competed at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin to win the top prize.
“In my career I have shared the stage with some world-class musicians, from James Galway to Henry Mancini, but there was something very special about the six young finalists that evening,” Phil said.
“They simply blew me away. Bursting with talent, passion and energy, they are all at the threshold of an exciting journey.
“The experience of the Frank Maher Awards will be invaluable to each of them and, in the case of previous winners, open the door to an international career.”
The awards were created in 2001 by Top Security chairman Emmet O’Rafferty to honour the memory of his late teacher, Fr Frank Maher, who taught music at Castleknock College in Dublin.
Emmet congratulated Michael Murphy on his achievement following his win.
“Frank Maher was a mentor of talent in many areas of school life and was particularly passionate about classical music. I know that he would have been very proud of all the performances we heard on the night and I wish Michael the very best in his future career,” he said.
Past winners have gone on to attend some of the world’s most prominent music colleges, including the Juilliard School, Shenandoah University of Virginia, Conservatoire Nationale Superieur de Musique et de Danse Paris, Kronberg Academy in Germany, the Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas, and the Royal Academy of Music in London.
The aim of the awards is to showcase outstanding young musical talent in Ireland. They are open to sixth-year students of strings, woodwind, brass, and piano.
The judging panel were Dr Kerry Houston, head of academic studies at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, classical pianist Veronica McSwiney, and Brian O’Rourke, head of programming for the National Symphony Orchestra.