Offaly students could win €2,000 classical music scholarship

Sixth year music students in post-primary schools in Offaly now have the chance to flex their fingers and win a €2,000 bursary to develop their musical talent and put their county on the musical map.

Sixth year music students in post-primary schools in Offaly now have the chance to flex their fingers and win a €2,000 bursary to develop their musical talent and put their county on the musical map.

The Fr Frank Maher Music Awards, sponsored by Top Security, is now seeking entries from all over Ireland for the very first time. It is the country’s largest classical musical scholarship for post-primary schools.

The Fr Frank Maher Music Awards is open to sixth year post-primary students of strings, woodwind, brass and piano only. A classical programme may only be entered and the aim is to showcase outstanding young musical talent in Ireland. The standard is extremely high and this year’s judging panel includes Dr Marion Doherty Hayden, retired Head of Music at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, conductor, teacher and performer, and Peter Sweeney, the renowned organist, teacher and adjudicator.

Emmet O’Rafferty, chairman of Top Security, set up the Awards several years ago in memory of the late priest who was a music teacher at his old school.

Emmet said, “It was Father Frank Maher’s love of music that encouraged Top Security to support this Scholarship. Excellence is the ethos of this competition and the standard of performance has risen steadily over the years. Previous winners are a credit to their schools and parents.”

Seven finalists will be selected from the entries received by the independent adjudication panel and attend a competition night on Wednesday, November 7 in Castleknock College, Dublin where they will perform in front of an invited audience. The top prize of a €2,000 bursary is to be used by the winner to attend a recognised place of tuition, a course of study in Ireland or abroad or on a purchase deemed necessary for the development of their talent. The remaining finalists will each receive a bursary of €150.

Paul Brennan, chairperson of the Post-Primary Music Teachers’ Association, said, “We’re delighted that the number of sixth year students taking music as a Leaving Cert subject has now topped 6,000 for the very first time. Music plays a huge role in the lives of young Irish people today and we’ve noticed a steady increase in numbers since the new curriculum was introduced some years ago.

“Scholarships like the Fr Frank Maher Music Awards, which encourage classical music, are an excellent opportunity for students to demonstrate their talents and win a bursary to further their career. Classical music can be very inspiring and it provides a wonderful training ground for the development of music skills in all genres of music. We would encourage sixth year music students and their teachers to take advantage of the chance to enter this high-profile competition.”

The closing date to enter the Fr Frank Maher Music Scholarship Awards is Monday, October 15. Full details, including rules and a copy of the application form for downloading, are on www.topsecurity.ie