Northern Irish musicians receive Young Musicians’ Platform Award to further their careers


Six talented young musicians from Northern Ireland have been awarded the Young Musicians’ Platform Award, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and BBC Northern Ireland. 

The six award recipients are classical music awardees: opera singer Andrew Irwin; cellist Angus McCal; pianist Justine Gormley. Traditional music awardees Jack Warnock and Rose Connolly. And singer-songwriter awardee Roisin Donald (ROE). 

The biennial awards, which are run by the Arts Council in collaboration with BBC Northern Ireland, aim to showcase and support the development of young musicians from the region by providing individual funding awards of up to £5,000.

This funding enables recipients to spend a sizeable amount of time learning from a master musician, mentor, teacher or composer either in Northern Ireland or abroad.

Justine Gormley, who was a recipient of the Young Musicians’ Platform Award

For the first time, the awards have been extended beyond the classical and folk music arenas reaching out to singer-songwriters in the region.

As well as this training opportunity, the awardees will receive two professional radio broadcast engagements, including one with the Ulster Orchestra in 2021. Performances at this level raise not only the professional profile of the young musicians but also give a boost to their performance experience.

Highlighting BBC Radio Ulster’s continuing commitment to specialist music and to developing new musical talent, three presenters from the station will mentor the new awardees in helping them prepare for their upcoming performances with the Ulster Orchestra which will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle. 

John Toal, a classical pianist and presenter of Classical Connections will mentor the three classical musicians while Folk Club presenter, Lynette Fay, will mentor the folk musicians.

Jack Warnock

And Stephen McCauley of The Stephen McCauley Show will mentor the singer-songwriter.

Speaking about the awards, Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland,  said: “The Arts Council is committed to providing valuable, meaningful opportunities for our artists to develop their professional careers and we are hugely proud to partner once again with BBC Northern Ireland to offer these awards to exceptional young musicians. 

“Congratulations to all six musicians on receiving these awards which offers a unique opportunity to develop musical skills, learn from the best and perform live with our tremendous Ulster Orchestra.

“All of the previous recipients of this award have gone on to have incredibly successful careers in music and I’ve every confidence that the new recipients will benefit greatly from this experience.”

Paul McClean, Executive Editor Arts and Music, BBC Northern Ireland,  said: “At BBC Radio Ulster we are dedicated to providing our listeners with the best in specialist music and nurturing new talent is something we are extremely passionate about. We are delighted to be involved in finding new classical, traditional and singer/songwriting artists and to be able to have our listeners engage in their journey as they grow and develop with some help from John, Lynette and Stephen, each of whom has a deep love of music.”

For more information on funding opportunities visit


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