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Annual Irish Heritage Bursary Auditions Go Virtual

1st December 2020

Bursaries with a combined value of over £10,000 were at stake when 10 very talented Irish musicians and singers were nominated for this year’s Irish Heritage Bursary auditions.

The 10 candidates, who represented music conservatoires and colleges from all over Britain, were competing for the Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Performance which is valued at £5,000, the Brackaville Bursary for Vocal Studies valued at £2,500 and the Accompanist Prize for the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.

In addition to the prize money, the bursaries also involve valuable performance opportunities in London and at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival where recipients will perform on the 2nd June 2021, subject to the current restrictions being lifted.
Because of the Covid-19 lockdown this year’s auditions were conducted virtually instead of at their usual venue, the Wigmore Hall in London. Video and written submissions from the candidates were judged over the past fortnight by a distinguished adjudication panel consisting of Audrey McKenna, Irish Heritage’s Artistic Adviser for Ireland; Professor Colma Brioscú, Head of Keyboard at the Royal Irish Academy of Music; Professor Mia Cooper, Leader of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and Dieter Kaegi, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival and Director General of Theater Orchester Biel Solothum in Switzerland.

The bursaries were awarded as follows:

The Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Performance went to Tiffany Qiu (19), a pianist from Dundalk, County Louth, who is studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London;

The Brackaville Bursary for Vocal Studies was awarded to Dominica Williams (30), a mezzo-soprano from Dublin, who is studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

Because the recipient of main bursary is a pianist, the Accompanist Prize was not awarded.

Commenting on the candidates and bursary recipients, Audrey McKenna, Chair of the Adjudication Panel, said, “All of the candidates delivered enthusiastic and spirited performances that did themselves, their families, teachers and conservatoires justice. As a result we had difficult decisions to make with very little to choose between performers. The two recipients are special talents; we congratulate them and look forward to seeing them perform at Irish Heritage and other events in due course.”

Tiffany Qiu is a second-year undergraduate studying piano with Professors Ian Fountain, Michael Dussek and Dr Ruth Byrchmore at the Royal Academy of Music. Prior to moving to London, she was a student of Dr Hugh Tinney and Dr Kevin O’Connell at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin.

On learning of her receipt of the bursary, Tiffany commented, “I am so honoured to have been awarded the Irish Heritage bursary for performance this year. I’m looking forward to performing at Irish Heritage recitals and to acting as an ambassador for the charity.”

Dominica Williams is studying for a Masters in Advanced Opera Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She has been working as a singer since graduating with a BA in Drama and German from Trinity College Dublin in 2013. She has returned to full-time education to develop her skills as a soloist. She is the second recipient of the Brackaville Bursary for Vocal Studies and said “I am thrilled to receive this bursary from Irish Heritage; I look forward to establishing a relationship with the charity over coming months.”

Entries for Irish Heritage’s 2020/21 Music Bursary for Composition close on 31st January 2021.

Dominica Williams – recipient of the Brackaville Bursary for Vocal Studies.