Finding a Voice and the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland are delighted to announce Cathy Purcell as the winner of the 2024 competition for Emerging Composers.  

Finding a Voice’s Artistic Director Róisín Maher says: “It was wonderful to be able to partner up with the Contemporary Music Centre for the fifth year in arow, to offer shortlisted candidates a workshop with Sylvia O’Brien and William Dowdall and mentorship from Siobhán Cleary. I know that it was very difficult for Siobhán to select a piece for performance but I’m absolutely delighted at Cathy’s success and can’t wait to hear the work performed live in Clonmel next month.”

Evonne Ferguson, Director, Contemporary Music Centre, adds: "CMC is delighted to continue our professional development partnership with Finding A Voice Festival for the Emerging Composer competition. CMC is proud to support opportunities for knowledge sharing and creative empowerment for women and gender minority composers in Ireland. Our community of composers and artists is stronger for its diversity of voices. Our congratulations to all participants in this year's competition. We are so pleased for composer Cathy Purcell and look forward to hearing her new work premiered in March.”

Cathy is a composer, music educator and percussionist from Co. Kilkenny. She is a first class honours graduate of the MA in Composition and Creative Music Practice at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, as well as holding an MA in Ethnomusicology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.  She was Composer in Residence for Waterford New Music Week from 2006 to 2008 and is the owner and Musical Director of Rhythm and Shakes in Waterford.


The essence of her work Droplet for voice and flute is the anticipation of a droplet of water about to fall. As the piece develops and lyrics are introduced, the listener realises that the water drop is actually a teardrop of nostalgic memories. The faster passages represent the intensity of a single teardrop turning into more tears as more memories are recalled. Cathy adds: “I am thrilled to have my piece chosen as winner of this year’s competition, and am most grateful to Finding a Voice, CMC and Siobhán Cleary for this opportunity. I enjoyed the creative process of writing this piece for flute and voice and found Siobhán's mentorship really valuable.  It was fantastic to have the chance to compose a work for Bill and Sylvia and I’m very much looking forward to hearing them perform it.”

Independent adjudicator for the competition was the CMC-represented celebrated Irish composer Siobhán Cleary, who writes: “Congratulations to all composers who submitted their remarkable pieces for the competition! Selecting a single composition for our upcoming March concert proved to be a challenging feat, testament to the exceptional quality of submissions. I was thoroughly impressed by the creativity and talent displayed. Every submission was a great success and deserving of celebration.”

Cathy’s piece will receive its world premiere on Saturday 9thMarch in Clonmel in Evlana’s concert as part of Finding a Voice 2024.  The programme will also include the world premiere of Irish composer Judith Ring’s The River Was Never Afraid (2023-4), commissioned by Finding a Voice for Evlana with funding from The Arts Council, alongside works by Lili Boulanger, Rebecca Clarke, Siobhán Cleary, Gemma Peacock and Jessie Montgomery.