Gonzaga College student wins classical music award

Competition established in 2001 to remember Fr Frank Maher

Pianist Stan O’Beirne (18), a sixth year student at Gonzaga College, who won the   Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Award, Ireland’s largest such competition for secondary schools, over the weekend. Photograph: Peter Houlihan

Pianist Stan O’Beirne (18), a sixth year student at Gonzaga College, who won the Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Award, Ireland’s largest such competition for secondary schools, over the weekend. Photograph: Peter Houlihan

 

An 18-year-old pianist from Dublin has won €5,000 after securing the top prize at the Frank Maher Classical Music Awards.

Stan O’Beirne, a sixth-year student at Gonzaga College, was one of six finalists at the country’s largest classical music competition for secondary schools at the Mill theatre in Dundrum on Friday night.

The Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards were created in 2001 by Emmet O’Rafferty to honour the memory of his late teacher Fr Frank Maher, who taught music at Castleknock College in Dublin.

Mr O’Beirne performed two pieces on Friday night; Ballade No.2 in F Major, Op38 by Frederic Chopin and Moment Musicaux No.4 in E Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Mr O’Rafferty said he was very pleased to welcome Stan O’Beirne “to our pantheon of young and talented winners”.

“Father Frank Maher was a mentor of talent in many areas of school life, but he was especially passionate about classical music,” he said.

“I know that he would have been delighted and proud of all the performances we heard tonight. I want to wish Stan and our five finalists the very best of luck wherever their talents take them.”

Mr O’Beirne said he had “prepared so much” and put “so much emotional energy” into his performance on the night and would put his winnings towards saving for a new piano.

“It’s just an amazing feeling to have won,” he said.

The awards aim to showcase outstanding young musical talent in Irish schools and are open to sixth year post-primary students of strings, woodwind, brass and piano.

The €5,000 top prize must be used 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 five other finalists each received a €300 bursary. They were Sidi Bao (17) from Sandford Park School, Dublin (violin); Eimear Boyle (18) from Midleton College, Cork (flute); Anna Jansson (18) from St Angela’s College, Cork (piano); Claire O’Connor (18) from Muckross Park College Dublin (violin) and Gerry Yang (17) from Sandford Park School (piano).

The judging panel was Dr Gerard Gillen, emeritus professor of music at NUI Maynooth, Dr Kerry Houston, head of academic studies at TU Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama and classical pianist Veronica McSwiney.