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.
APPLICATIONS NOW CLOSED FOR 2024
THE TRENCH AWARD
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
BIRR LIONS CLUB BURSARY
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
THE AUDREY CHISHOLM AWARD
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
CANTO AL SERCHIO AWARD
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
10TH ANNIVERSARY AWARD
2023 marked 10 years of The Trench Award and in recognition of this major anniversary, this bursary was awarded to mezzo-soprano, Heather Sammon.
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
Maureen de Forge & Catherine Cotter