Aisling impresses at prestigious Classical Music Awards

Aisling Donnelly (18) from Lehenaghmore, Cork was among seven finalists at the 2016 Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards on Friday night (11 Nov) at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin, Ireland’s largest such competition for secondary schools with a €5,000 top prize. A sixth year student at Bruce College, St. Patrick’s Hill in Cork, Aisling plays the piano and performed two pieces on the night. They were ‘Nocturne in C Minor, Op 48, No. 1’ by composer Frederic Chopin and ‘Etudes Tableaux, Op 39, No.4’ by Sergei Rachmaninoff.


Aisling, along with the other finalists, received a €250 bursary while the €5,000 top prize was won by pianist Aidan Chan (17), from Scoil Dara in Kilcock, Co. Kildare.

The Awards were created in 2001 by Top Security chairman Emmet O’Rafferty to honour the memory of the late teacher, who taught music at his old school, Castleknock College.  Their aim is to showcase outstanding young musical talent in Ireland and are open to sixth year post-primary students of strings, woodwind, brass and piano. The €5,000 top prize must 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 their talent.


Previous winners have gone on to attend some of the world’s most prominent music colleges, which includes 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 to name a few.


Emmet O’Rafferty, chairman of Top Security, said Aisling Donnelly and our equally talented finalists join a line of incredible young talent for whom this Award has been a stepping stone to even greater achievements.  Father 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 at this wonderful venue and I wish Aisling all the very best for the future.”


The other finalists were violist Seamus Hickey from Colaiste an Spioraid Naoimh in Bishopstown; cellist Grace Coughlan from Loreto College Fermoy; recorder player Rebecca Doherty (17),Lumen Christi College in Derry; violinist Anna Mitchell (17) Wesley College Dublin and cellist Robert Murphy (17) CBS in Kilkenny City.


The judging panel were Dr Gerard Gillen, emeritus professor of music at NUI Maynooth, Dr Kerry Houston, head of academic studies at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and internationally acclaimed pianist Veronica McSwiney.