Talented teens line up for Ireland’s classical music awards

Frank Maher competition offers €5,000 prize to secondary school student

An award-winning Galway composer and conductor, Eimear Noone, has given her support to the 2023 Top Security Frank Maher classical music awards for talented teenagers.

The awards are Ireland’s largest classic music competition for secondary schools with a €5,000 prize for the winner.

Support for young artists and creative professionals is “something we need more of in Ireland”, Noone said, congratulating the team behind the awards for making a positive impact on young musicians professionally and psychologically.

Last year’s winner, 18-year-old Daimee Ng from The High School in Dublin, achieved top honours in her Leaving Cert and has decided to forgo her university offers to pursue a career in music.


“It was wonderful to meet and play for Eimear Noone, she was incredibly supportive and gave me a lot of advice and encouragement,” she said.

“I’m now taking a gap year to attend masterclasses and explore the opportunities that the wider musical world has to offer before I audition for several renowned music colleges in Europe to start the next stage of my musical journey,” she said.

The awards were created in 2001 by Emmet O’Rafferty, chairman of the Top Security Group, to honour the memory of his late teacher, Fr Frank Maher, a pioneer in the nurturing of musical talent in secondary schools. The awards went nationwide in 2012.

Past winners include pianists Kevin Jansson and Aidan Chan, violinists Julieanne Forrest and Mairead Hickey and cellists Killian White and Sinead O’Halloran.

All the winners have received national and international recognition for their achievements, and many have used their prize money as a springboard to fund their studies at some of the world’s most renowned music colleges and institutions.

These include Juilliard School, MUK Vienna, Barenboim-Said Akademie, Royal College of Music, Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Musique et de Danse and Kronberg Academy.

The awards are open to sixth-year post-primary students of string, woodwind, brass and piano.

The €5,000 prize will be used by the winner to attend a recognised place of tuition, a course of study in Ireland or abroad or on a purchase necessary for the development of their talent. The remaining finalists will each receive a €300 bursary.

The closing date for this year’s entries is Friday, October 6th. Further information, rules and a copy of the application form for downloading are on frankmaherclassicalmusicawards.com.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times