Music Rewards a plenty in the West

Music Rewards a plenty in the West

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By Ellie Farrell

Many of us have heard how this year has been very difficult for people involved in the arts and especially in the world of music and song.

For nine young musicians from the west of Ireland it has been a month to remember for a good reason -at last! Earlier this month, Mary and Flan Noonan made contact with these young people and brought about just what the Eimear Noonan Music Bursary Awards programme set out to do.

The bursary scheme which was originally set up by the Noonan family to remember their talented and beautiful daughter Eimear who died tragically in France in November 2017, aims to help talented young people from the west of Ireland to further their musical studies. The bursary programme has grown enormously since it was first set up and just last month was further funded by a spectacular online musical campaign called ‘Carpe Diem Sing and Play 2020’.

The campaign included hundreds of musicians and singers who performed in their kitchens, sitting rooms or gardens all with the aim of spreading the Carpe Diem message to ‘seize the day, sing and play’.

A message that resounded around the world to remember Eimear Noonan, who lived every day to the full -with her joy, her music and her song. For sure I think she would really approve of what her parents, three brothers and the Carpe Diem team along with Coole Music do to bring encouragement and rewards to many talented young musicians.

Sarah Hannify is a violist from Galway and currently studying a BMus at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. She was one of those who received the happy news this month that she was selected as one of two winners of An Award of Excellence for 2020-21. She has been playing the viola since the age of four and has been a dedicated member of numerous local and national orchestras as well as a member of Welsh and Scottish National Youth Orchestras.

Sarah wrote to the Eimear Noonan Music Bursary committee to say how ‘grateful she was to have been selected for an ‘Award of Excellence’ bursary and that she intends to use it towards investing in a new instrument, which will assist me in developing my musical ability’.

Being from the West of Ireland, she has been immersed in traditional Irish music from a very young age, competing and winning in local traditional music competitions, including winning an overall ‘Spirit of the Feis’ award and participating in multiple workshops. In addition to playing the viola, Sarah can also play the tin whistle, piano, fiddle, guitar and low flute, most of which were self-taught.

Moving closer to the Shannon we meet Siobhan Brady, a young harpist from Limerick who has been announced as the other recipient of an Award of Excellence. Siobhan is an accomplished and experienced harpist on both the Irish lever and pedal concert harp. She is currently a third-year student at Cork School of Music studying for a BMus degree with internationally renowned harpist, Anne-Marie Papin Labazordiere.

Siobhan is accustomed to performing on the international stage and having won two international harp competitions in the North London Music Festival she was approached by an international team to take part in an adventure of a lifetime. Siobhan along with her father scaled the Himalayas in India in seven hours with a harp! She now holds the Guinness World Record for Highest Harp Concert performed and in doing so, the project raised £20K in funds and increased awareness for Cystic Fibrosis, using music and altitude.

No wonder she became a mascot for Carpe Diem, Sing and Play 2020 -from playing amongst the lofty peaks of the Himalayas or upon the fishing bridge beloved by Eimear Noonan on the shores of Loughgraney in Co. Clare, the constant in Siobhan’s music is her absolute dedication to playing the most beautiful harp music.

Caoileann Smith is another recipient of an Eimear Noonan Bursary award for 2020-21. Caoileann’s mother had heard Mary Noonan speak on Ryan Tubridy’s Radio show and like so many others she was moved by the story. A neighbour and former music teacher also connected with Caoileann when she heard about the Carpe Diem campaign and bursary fund. Caoileann is a first year student in CIT Cork School of Music studying for a BA in Musical Theatre. Having attended ‘Break Through Dance Company’ for many years, her earliest introduction to performance was through dance.

Singing was initially something she just did at home, however with the encouragement of music teacher, Carmel Griffin, and her voice teacher Helen Houlihan at Clare Music Makers, Caoileann gained the confidence to pursue singing in a more formal way. It is thanks to her teacher that she had the courage to apply for her ‘dream course’, which she is now currently studying. In Caoileann’s own words ‘the establishment of the Eimear Noonan Music Bursary Award is a beautiful tribute to the memory of Eimear Noonan and her love of music. I am very grateful to the Noonan family for this award and hope to use this bursary to expand my musical experience by learning to play the piano and buy musical equipment’.

Caoileann Smith

 

Sarah Hannify is a violist from Galway and currently studying a BMus at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. She was one of those who received the happy news this month that she was selected as one of two winners of An Award of Excellence for 2020-21. She has been playing the viola since the age of four and has been a dedicated member of numerous local and national orchestras as well as a member of Welsh and Scottish National Youth Orchestras.

Sarah wrote to the Eimear Noonan Music Bursary committee to say how ‘grateful she was to have been selected for an ‘Award of Excellence’ bursary and that she intends to use it towards investing in a new instrument, which will assist me in developing my musical ability’. Being from the West of Ireland, she has been immersed in traditional Irish music from a very young age, competing and winning in local traditional music competitions, including winning an overall ‘Spirit of the Feis’ award and participating in multiple workshops. In addition to playing the viola, Sarah can also play the tin whistle, piano, fiddle, guitar and low flute, most of which were self-taught.

Bursary Award winner David Kennedy is an aspiring young classical singer from Galway. He is currently studying with Professor Owen Gilhooly and repetiteur Grainne Dunne on the BMus (Vocal Studies) course at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

Luckily for David his vocal teacher and renowned tenor Owen Gilhooly was familiar about Carpe Diem Sing and Play and the Eimear Noonan Music Bursary and encouraged David to send in an application. David’s adoration for music sprung from his musical theatre beginnings when he took part in numerous musicals and has also sang at the 50th anniversary for the Association of Irish Musical Societies (2015).

David spoke of how grateful he is towards the Noonan Family for this music bursary and hopes to use it to help towards tuition fees for college, and musically, he wishes to experiment in the Alexander technique which would help to release any natural tensions which would bring ‘his singing to its fullest potential’.

Mayo have had a run of bad luck in not bringing home an All-Ireland win but one man who has brought home a win is Bursary recipient Jamie Doherty.  A first year student of Music and Religious Education in Dublin City University Jamie has been playing piano for over ten years and is currently learning to play a variety of other instruments including the accordion. Jamie says ‘this bursary will help me in so many ways, the generous sum of money will allow me to continue my studies in music by funding my accommodation in Dublin when on-campus learning returns, and it will also help to fund my voice lessons that I am taking as part of my studies’.

Jamie continued with ‘I am endlessly grateful to Mary and the Noonan family for their generosity and kindness and for providing myself and others such support… It has given young people in the west of Ireland a great opportunity to follow their dreams for a music education’.

Galway girl, Emma Flynn is a nineteen year old first year student in BIMM Institute, Dublin studying commercial modern music. A singer from her early days she took lessons with Martina Flaherty when she was younger and more recently with Micheal Durham. She has been involved with musical theatre for about ten years and has always loved it and remembers with fondness her time with Loughrea Youth Theatre from ages 11 to 18. These days Emma continues with musical theatre as a hobby and currently living in Dublin for college, she is hoping to realise her first single sometime next year. Emma said upon receiving the Eimear Noonan Music Bursary that, ‘it will help me to continue along with my path in music and help me with the release of my single for next year. I thank Mary and everyone else involved for the opportunity and well done to everyone else who was lucky like me to receive this bursary. It has been a massive boost for me, especially in such a challenging year’.

The generosity of those who performed and donated to the Carpe Diem campaign last November I’m sure must be heartened to hear of all those students and musicians who are being offered much needed assistance and appreciation as they set forth on the musical road.

Mary Duggan from Claregalway, another Bursary Award recipient, started on the musical road at the tender age of six, and today plays the violin, piano, button accordion and melodeon. She plays both classical and traditional styles and has a longstanding connection with various orchestras. Mary was a member and leader of Athenry Youth orchestra for many years, under the conduction of Katharine Mac Mághnuis as well as a member of The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland (NYOI) for three years after auditioning in 2018, and at present she is the leader of the exciting Symphonic Waves orchestra. Alongside classical music studies, the traditional style has also played a massive part in her music experience and being a member of Lackagh Comhaltas, Mary has toured the country with provisional and all Ireland Fleadh Ceoil’s, as well as numerous festivals and concerts. She is currently studying a BA in Music at NUIG and hopes to study music abroad for her third year at college and go on further, to teach music at secondary level and elsewhere.

The youngest Bursary recipient for 2020-21, Aimee Banks, is an eighteen year old soprano from Galway. She is currently a first year student of B.Mus studying under the direction of Kathleen Tynan, Head of Opera and Vocal Studies at The Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. Aimee is an award-wining vocalist and currently holds a number of vocal titles, the most recently being “The most Promising Performer ” awarded at the Irené Sandford Competition 2020 at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

She is the current ‘Overall Junior Vocalist’ at Sligo Feis Ceoil 2019, a multi-award winner at Dublin Feis Ceoil and last year received a Silver Award in the 1st Vienna International Music Competition 2019. The last few years have been momentous for Aimee. Having had the honour of performing at the Governments launch of the 1916 Commemorations in Dublin’s Convention Centre she has also debuted as the young Giordano Bruno in Roger Doyle’s Opera, ‘Heresy’, where she received commendation from Opera World, The Irish Times and Opera Today. Aimee has had wonderful opportunities which have led to performances across Ireland, Europe and Carnegie Hall, New York and is no stranger to Radio and Television.

Oisín Dilger is originally from Athenry and currently in his first year studying Arts (Music) at UCC.  He has been playing piano for around fourteen years and clarinet for eight years under the guidance of local teachers based both in Athenry and Galway, including John Finnucane at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Transition year. Oisín has played the clarinet with the local Athenry Youth Orchestra, the Galway Traditional Orchestra and the Symphonic Waves Youth orchestra, and also had the great experience of playing in the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble. He would absolutely love to study composition in a music conservatory after his studies at UCC and hopes to build a career focusing on composition.

In transition year, Oisín gained work experience with Timo Baker, a composer for many BBC films and documentaries and loved every minute of this experience. With the Bursary Award, Oisín hopes to start a new instrument like saxophone or guitar and to explore the possibility of purchasing composition or music production software, which will help him one day make a career out of music.

All of these young musicians, while they explore the world of music in different ways, are unified in that each one is touched by the generosity of so many and most particularly by the Noonan family who have in their days of grief created a Bursary Programme in remembrance of their daughter Eimear. She was not only a talented musician and singer herself but also a young lady who lived each day to the full.

It is a true testimony to Eimear’s joie de vivre when friends and family from around the world gather in music and song, coupled with her beloved Coole Music and UCC Orchestras who have united in concert to begin an annual celebration of Eimear Noonan’s beautiful life. Each November the Carpe Diem concert usually held in Gort or most recently online reminds each one of us to ‘seize the day’ while it simultaneously allows welcome reward to young musicians from the

Each November the Carpe Diem concert usually held in Gort or most recently online reminds each one of us to ‘seize the day’ while it simultaneously allows welcome reward to young musicians from the West of Ireland.

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