NI Young Musicians' Platform Award

Arts Council of Northern Ireland seek applications from classical, jazz and traditional artists

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in collaboration with BBC Northern Ireland, is now calling for applications for the Northern Ireland Young Musicians' Platform Award.

The award showcases and supports the development of exceptional and talented young Northern Ireland musicians. For the first time, the awards will extend beyond the classical music arena and will now also be offered to musicians from jazz and traditional Irish music backgrounds.

The Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform is a biennial scheme, which this year will recognise the talents of five high quality musicians through the provision of five individual awards of £5,000.

This financial award enables recipients to spend a sizeable amount of time learning from a master musician, mentor, teacher or composer either in Northern Ireland or abroad. As well as this training opportunity, recipients receive two professional radio broadcast engagements, including one with the Ulster Orchestra between January to December 2015.

The music genres covered by the Young Musicians’ Platform includes three classical awards, one jazz award and one traditional Irish music award. Previous recipients of the award include Derry~Londonderry's Laura Sheerin, soprano with Opera NI, violinist Michael Trainor, celebrated pianist Michael McHale and clarinetist Sarah Smith.

Highlighting BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle’s commitment to specialist music and developing new musical talent, this year three presenters from the station will mentor the young musicians as well as following their progress on their programmes and helping them prepare for performances with the Ulster Orchestra for BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle concerts.

John Toal, a classical pianist and presenter of Sounds Classical, will mentor the three classical musicians; Folk Club presenter, musician and singer-songwriter Colum Sands will mentor the traditional musician; and jazz musician, educator and presenter Linley Hamilton will mentor the young jazz musician.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council, commented: 'The Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform Award is an unique opportunity for our outstanding young musicians to develop their musical skills, learn from the best in their genre and receive professional experience of playing with a live orchestra.

'All of the previous recipients have gone on to have successful, professional careers and I’ve every confidence that their experience received through this award acted as an exceptional platform to shaping their development.'

'I am really excited about this project as I think this is a real opportunity to promote a young champion for jazz and give them a platform to create and innovate as well structure a career,' added Hamilton, a world-renowned jazz trumpeter and band leader.

'It will also help audiences to form a long term relationship with a musician who is liable to be an ambassador for arts in Northern Ireland, bringing attention to us here, creating visibility for an already growing scene and the obvious exchange that will attract other musicians to tour here and give our young champion an opportunity to make connections with international musicians.

'It will be exciting seeing them bloom over the two years of the project, and provide a vehicle for them to have their profile, music and performances brought to a wider audience. Jazz in Northern Ireland has an open door policy. We want to welcome in new blood, inspire it, educate it, develop it and provide it with a platform.'

Applications are open from June 20, and close on October 2 at 4pm. Applications will be assessed by a specialist panel and shortlisted applicants will then be invited to audition in Belfast in late October 2014, where they will be asked to perform three contrasting pieces in style and period.

Applications forms and information are available in large print format, disc and audio tape, and are available from the Arts Council website.