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David Blake shines at 2020 Frank Maher Classical Music Awards

Sixth year student David Blake (S6A) was among the six finalists at the 2020 Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards on Friday 2nd October. With a €5,000 top prize, it is Ireland’s largest such competition for secondary schools.

David, who plays the cello, performed two pieces; ‘Sonata in G Minor,Op.65 for Cello and Piano (Largo)’ by Frédéric Chopin and ‘Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op.33’ by Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky. David was presented with a €300 bursary as were the other finalists, Iedida Condria and Kevin O’Loughlin from Sandford Park School, Dublin; Lukas Bespalovas from Breifne College in Cavan and Helen Rutledge from St. Angela’s College in Cork.

The 2020 Award was won by 17-year-old violinist Julieanne Forrest from St. Peter’s College in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, who received the top prize of €5,000.

Because of Covid-19, there was no audience this year and instead the young musicians performed individually in front of the judges only, in socially distanced surroundings. The performances were filmed and will be available post-event for family and friends to view.

The Awards were created in 2001 by Top Security chairman Emmet O’Rafferty to honour the memory of his late teacher, Fr Frank Maher, who taught music at Castleknock College in Dublin. Emmet said “Congratulations to Iedida, Kevin and David on their achievement in making the finals of this very prestigious competition. It’s a privilege to have been able to give these young musicians the support and recognition they deserve, which has never been more needed than now. They now join the ranks of extremely talented young musicians who have taken part in this competition and we wish them all the very best for the future”.

The Awards’ aim is to showcase outstanding young musical talent in Ireland 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.

Past winners have gone on to attend some of the world’s most prominent music colleges, which includes the Juilliard School in New York, the Shenandoah University of Virginia, Conservatoire Nationale Superieur de Musique et de Danse Paris, Kronberg Academy in Germany, the Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas, and the Royal Academy of Music in London.

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


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