top of page
The Trench Award 2023 Group Shot.jpeg

The Trench Award

Now, in its eleventh year, the purpose of The Trench Award, which includes a number of bursaries, is to assist singers and musicians from the Midlands/Mid-West region to develop their professional careers through further study at a University/Music College/accredited music establishment, in Ireland or abroad, undertaking classical music studies in pursuit of a career in professional performance.

The Trench Award 2024

Sunday 5 May
Birr Theatre & Arts Centre

Accompanist |
Dearbhla Brosnan

Following our callout for applications, we invite six finalists to perform a 15-minute programme at the Trench Award Gala Concert during Birr Festival of Music. The winners are selected by a prestigious panel and also take part in a series of masterclasses during their time at our Festival here in Birr.

In previous years, Fergus Sheil, David Brophy, Sandra Oman, Bruno Caproni and Julian Evans have all been adjudicators. 





Laura is a Masters student at the Royal College of Music and a graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She is the Joseph Clover Scholar at RCM, and in 2023 was awarded the Brackaville Bursary for Vocal Students by Irish Heritage.


She has performed in venues and festivals

across Ireland and the UK including the Wigmore Hall, the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, and the Irish Embassy in London.

Laura Aherne The Trench Award.jpg
Johanna Dietz The Trench Award.jpg




Johanna was accepted as a part-time student into the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 2016. Here, she was awarded a scholarship and earned a place in the Young Scholars programme in 2020.


Ever since then, through more experiences and performance opportunities, her love for music grew and led her to study at the RIAM full-time.


She is now in her third year of the BMus Performance degree and has placed in multiple competitions, performed in masterclasses and taken part in numerous concerts.




Eva is currently studying vocal performance on the BMus at RIAM, under the tutelage of Kathleen Tynan and Dearbhla Collins. She was awarded the Most Promising Performer at the 2023 RIAM Irene Sandford Award for Singers.

Upon earning a scholarship in 2023 for the Daniel Ferro Program in Tuscany, Italy, Eva attended masterclasses with industry luminaries like Ira Siff (Metropolitan Opera, New York) and Mark Watson.


Other performance highlights include the Feis Ceoil Prizewinners Concert at the National Concert Hall 2023 and the role of Sadie Dowling in the world premiere of Stephen McNeff's Spirits Unsurrendered for RIAM Opera.

Eva Kavanagh The Trench Award.png
Jayden Lamcellari The Trench Award.jpg




Jayden is an Albanian/Irish Cellist currently studying with Professor Christoph Richter at the Royal Academy of Music after being awarded a full scholarship. 


He has performed as a soloist in some of the world's major concert halls including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Centre, Musikverein Vienna, Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall.


Jayden is the winner of five international competitions and was awarded 1st Prize at the Piatti Cello Competition at the Royal Academy of Music. More recently, he was a finalist at the Delius Award as well as the Irish Heritage Award in London where he went on to win the Homan Potterton Award. 




Erinn is currently in the final year of her Bachelor in Music degree at TU Dublin, studying Trumpet Performance.

She began her trumpet studies with Music Generation Carlow and in 2019, she was selected to be one of two people from Ireland to attend the International Music Camp in North Dakota for two weeks as part of their Wind Band Programme.


She has performed at the National Concert Hall with Carlow Youth Orchestra and at Carlow Cathedral in the Easter Vigil broadcast on RTÉ Radio.

Erinn Lennon The Trench Award.jpg
Rosie Murphy The Trench Award.png




Rosie is a harpist and composer currently studying classical music and sonology in The Hague Royal Conservatory. She has also received a diploma of higher music from The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.


She has performed recitals of her own music in Arás an Uachtarain, No. 10 Downing Street, The Lyric Theatre Belfast, The London Irish Centre and the Sonic Arts Research Centre.

She is an awardee of the 2022 Music Capital Scheme and is the Featured Young Artist for The Hard Rain Soloist ensemble for 2023/2024.



The Trench Award is our top bursary, named in honour of Julia & Patrick Trench.



2023  Julieanne Forrest | Violin

2022  Martina Rosaria O'Connell | Flute

2021 Aoibhin Keogh Daly | Cello

2020 Ben Gannon | Oboe

2019 Aidan Chan | Piano

2018 Philip Keegan | Tenor

2017 Richard Thomas | Violin

2016 Sarah Brady | Soprano

2015 Carolyn Holt | Mezzo Soprano 

2014 Heather Fogarty | Mezzo Soprano

Salters, Julieanne, Janet, Michael & Arthur.jpeg
Deirdre Higgins & Ronan O'Hare.jpeg


This award is named in recognition of Birr Lions Club's ongoing support of Birr Festival of Music. They have generously supported numerous community, education and cultural organisations in Birr since establishment in 1974.



2023  Deirdre Higgins | Soprano

2022  Aimee Banks | Soprano

2021 Maria Matthews | Soprano

2020 Jessica Hackett | Soprano

2019 Leah Redmond | Soprano

2018 Ben Gannon | Oboe

2017 Kevin Neville | Baritone

2016 Rachel Goode | Soprano


In memory of the late Audrey Chisholm, concert pianist and hugely popular teacher for many years at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin.  Audrey grew up on Oxmantown Mall, Birr. Her father, William, was head forrester at Birr Castle, her mother, Ciss, taught piano and gave Audrey her first lesson. 


Awarded to an instrumentalist and funded from Audrey's estate by her brother Danvers and curated by Linda O'Shea Farren.


2023 Adam Buttimer | Tuba 

2022 JJ McNamara | Piano 

2021 David Vesey | Piano

2020 Peter Regan | Piano

Adam & Linda.jpeg
Bruno, Caroline, Anna-Helena & Julian Evans.jpeg


Awarded to a singer in the Trench Award, this is a residency at the Summer Opera Academy in Tuscany of renowned baritone Bruno Caproni and pianist Julian Evans. 


The recipient joins a small group of international singers for vocal coaching, Italian lessons and performance opportunities, visiting Puccini's birthplace in nearby Lucca and generally immersing themselves in Italian culture.


2023 Caroline Behan | Soprano

2023 Anna-Helena McLachlan | Mezzo Soprano

2022 Niamh St John | Soprano

2021 David Kennedy | Tenor

2020  Sarah Luttrell | Mezzo Soprano

2019  Dylan Rooney | Baritone

2018  Philip Keegan | Tenor


2023 marked 10 years of The Trench Award and in recognition of this major anniversary, this bursary was awarded to mezzo-soprano, Heather Sammon


Heather Sammon & Sandra Oman.jpeg


A bursary awarded to a Midlands student entering full-time music studies in the classical field. 



2022 Catherine Cotter | Cello

2020 Aoibhin Keogh Daly | Cello

2019 David Kennedy | Tenor

2018 Dylan Rooney | Baritone

2017 Mollie Wrafter | Violin 

Musical Futures.png

Maureen de Forge & Catherine Cotter

bottom of page