Dublin student wins Ireland’s largest post-primary classical music competition

Christopher Ellis (17) from Raheny, a sixth year student at Sutton Park School, Dublin, is the winner of the 2014 Fr Frank Maher Classical Music Awards sponsored by Top Security which took place on Thurs 13 November 2014. With a €3,000 first prize, it is Ireland’s largest classical music competition for post-primary schools.

Seven young finalists from Dublin, Louth, Waterford and Clare competed at the prestigious Royal College of Physicians in Dublin to win the top prize of €3,000 to further their musical career.

Christopher,who plays the cello, performed two pieces; ‘Hungarian Rhapsody’ by composer David Popper and ‘Aprés un Réve’ by composer Gabriel Fauré. A delighted Christopher said “I am delighted to have won and I plan to put my prize money towards the purchase of my own cello.”

The Fr Frank Maher Music Awards were established by Top Security chairman Emmet O’Rafferty to honour the memory of one of his former teachers. It is open to sixth year post-primary students of strings, woodwind, brass and piano. A classical programme can only be entered and the aim is to showcase outstanding young musical talent in Ireland.

Emmet O’Rafferty, chairman of Top Security, said “Father Frank Maher was a teacher at Castleknock College from 1959 to 1998. He was a great spotter and mentor of talent in many areas of school life and was particularly passionate about classical music. I know that he would have expressed enormous pride and pleasure in tonight’s performances at this wonderful venue. Christopher now joins an extremely talented line of young musical talent and I wish him the very best for their future career.”

The remaining six finalists each received a €250 bursary. They were:

Pianist Dylan Browne (17), Williamstown, Waterford, (De La Salle College, Waterford).
Violinist Maria Dawe (17), Hackballscross, Louth (St. Louis Secondary School, Dundalk)
Flautist Nadia Grimes (17), Skerries, Dublin, (Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Dublin).
Pianist Lucy McCabe (17), Cabinteely, Dublin, (Rathdown School, Glenageary, Dublin)
Violinist Phoebe White (17), Rathfarnham, Dublin (Wesley College, Ballinteer, Dublin)
Flautist Fina Wurm (17), Newmarket-on-Fergus, Clare (Colaiste Muire, Ennis)

The judging panel were emeritus professor of music at NUI Maynooth, Dr Gerard Gillen; Dr Kerry Houston, head of academic studies at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and renowned concert pianist Veronica McSwiney.