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Emerging composer competition

The Finding a Voice Emerging Composer Competition has been an integral part of the festival since the beginning.  Since 2020, we have partnered with the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland to offer shortlisted composers a workshop, providing a unique opportunity for professional development for both winning and shortlisted composers.

The competition is open to women or female-identifying composers who are either born on or currently resident on the island of Ireland.  The competition opens in the autumn, with the winning piece performed in March at Finding a Voice.

Emerging Composer Competition
2020 Winner Rose Connolly
2022 Winner Maeve Kelly

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Finding a Voice is delighted to announce composer Maeve Kelly as the winner of our 2022 competition. A graduate of CIT Cork School of Music and TU Dublin, Maeve is currently studying for a PhD in composition with composer Grainne Mulvey. Her winning piece Life of Breath was selected by guest judge, composer Judith Ring, and will be performed by flutist Lina Andonovska at Clonmel Junction Arts Festival in summer 2022.

2021 Winner Abigail Smith
2021 Winner Abigail Smith


In 2021, Finding a Voice moved online, necessitating a change in dates for the composition competition.  The winning composer was selected anonymously by composer Judith Ring and the winning piece, Certain of Uncertainty by Abigail Smith, was premiered by percussionist Alex Petcu on Culture Night 17th September 2021 in Clonmel.

2020 Winner Rose Connolly
2020 Winner Rose Connolly


2020 saw our youngest-ever winner Rose Connolly, aged just nineteen and a student at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.  Rose’s piece for harp, entitled Beyond the Lake, was selected and premiered by composer and harpist Dr Anne-Marie O’Farrell on Sunday 8th March 2020.

2019 Winner Carol Hayes (l-r pictured with Jane O’Leary, Rhona Clarke, Marian Ingoldsby, Mary Dullea, Amanda Feery and Anna Murray)
2019 Winner Carol Hayes (l-r pictured with Jane O’Leary, Rhona Clarke, Marian Ingoldsby, Mary Dullea, Amanda Feery and Anna Murray)


In 2019, our winner Carol Hayes was chosen by guest judge Rhona Clarke.  Her winning piece comprised one of the movements in the commissioned piano piece Reflections on a Theme by Clara Schumann, premiered by Mary Dullea on Saturday 9th March 2019.

2018 Carmel Whelan
2018 Winner Carmel Whelan


In 2018, the competition was adjudicated anonymously by guest judge Marian Ingoldsby.  ‘Nightfall’ by the inaugural winner, Carmel Whelan, was written for Voice Trio and premiered by them on Friday 9th March 2018. 

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