Offaly man picks up 2018 Trench Award

He claims a €3,500 prize fund

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


Offaly man picks up 2018 Trench Award

Offaly man picks up 2018 Trench Award

Offaly tenor Philip Keegan claimed the overall prize at The 2018 Trench Award during the recent Birr Festival of Music & Voice at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre on Sunday, May 6.

Now in its fifth year, the Trench Award is a bursary which aims to assist young singers and musicians from the Midlands who are pursuing a career in professional performance in the field of classical music.

The Tullamore native took home the top bursary valued at €3,500 with a programme which included Lalo, Vaughan Williams and Schubert.

On the night, he was also awarded the Canto al Serchio Award, which will see him join a group of international singers for a week-long residency in Italy under the tutelage of baritone Bruno Caproni and renowned pianist Julian Evans. The duo performed at the inaugural Birr Festival of Music and Voice last year. 

Longford’s Ben Gannon won the Birr Lions Club bursary of €1500 while the Audience Award, sponsored by Birr Stage Guild was presented to pianist JJ McNamara from Meath.

The evening also featured performances from the other finalists, bass-baritone David Howes and sopranos Leah Redmond and Aisling McCarthy all playing a high level of accomplishment in their chosen repertoire. 

The selection panel of David Brophy, one of Ireland’s leading conductors, Cara O’Sullivan, renowned Irish soprano and local music teacher Enda O’Connor were greatly impressed with the overall calibre of each performer. 

A special thank you is extended to the Trench Trust and Salters Sterling; Birr Lions Club; Birr Stage Guild and all the funders and patrons for their continued support.

Director of Birr Festival of Music & Voice Maureen de Forge said: “This year’s Trench Award was the perfect ending to the second ever Birr Festival of Music & Voice. The standard of performers this year was very strong. It is wonderful to see so many musicians and singers from the Midlands and surrounding region go on to devote themselves to a career in classical music.”

“Playing and singing from an early age, years spent traveling to music lessons, to full time music college in Dublin, Cork and abroad is a costly business. It is a great pleasure to those involved in both funding and organising The Trench Award and Birr Festival of Music and Voice, to be able support outstanding young artists such as Philip, Ben and JJ. We look forward to following their future careers very closely.”


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