Youth Orchestra Ovation Awards

Youth Orchestra Ovation Awards

The Irish Association of Youth Orchestra presents the Youth Orchestra Ovation Awards, an event and process that celebrates and spreads best practice and innovation in the youth orchestra community in Ireland.

Each year, in October, IAYO will hold an awards ceremony in which two awards will be presented in addition to commendations and the presentation of the work of all applications. (The two awards are initially valued at €2,000 each but it is intended to increase the cash / benefit-in-kind value in future years.)

The awards ceremony will see a gathering of young people from orchestras around Ireland with workshops, presentations of their work and the awards ceremony itself. It will form a second peak in national visibility for the youth orchestra community in the year, complementing and enhancing the promotional work of the IAYO Festival of Youth Orchestras which takes place in February.

Applications for 2021 are now closed.

You can read all about the work of the 2021 winning and commended orchestras here.

Awards Benefits

There will be two “winning” awards where awardees will receive:

  • An Awards Certificate in the form of a framed A3 poster;
  • A €2,000 cash prize towards their orchestra;
  • Inclusion in a national and regional PR campaign run by IAYO’s press company, Kearney Melia Barker Communications;
  • Letters announcing the award and commending the work of the orchestras to local representatives, arts office and ETBs as appropriate from the Chairperson of IAYO.
  • Promotion to the youth orchestra network through IAYO’s paper and electronic newsletters, website and social media channels.

We will also allow for an unrestricted number of commendations from applicants that will benefit from inclusion in regional press releases, letters to representatives, arts offices and ETBs and promotion through IAYO’s news and social channels.

All applicants will have their activities promoted through IAYO’s news and media channels as long as suitable materials have been supplied.

2021 Awards

On Saturday, 16 October 2021, we hosted our inaugural Youth Orchestra Ovation Awards in the beautiful Banquet Hall of Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin.

The Youth Orchestra Ovation Awards celebrate and spread best practice and innovation in the youth orchestra community and our two winners, Coole Music and Athenry Music School, have epitomised this since the beginning of the pandemic. We were truly blown away by the incredible work of these two rural Galway music schools and how, through fantastic leadership, imagination, and determination, they ensured that their young musicians were able to continue performing in individual lessons and as part of ensembles. Musica Fusion Community Orchestra were also awarded a Highly Commended for their tireless work within their community.

Each year, there will be two award winners and also commendations. There are no specific categories – we consider anything that enhances the lives of young people through youth-orchestra participation. If it is high-quality and it involves young people playing in orchestras, we love it! All applications take into consideration the level of development and capacity of a particular orchestra. Our awards are about being fantastic but not necessarily about being the best. 

This year’s awards saw a small gathering of young people who participated in a workshop with Lisa Dowdall, were treated to a wonderful performance by the IAYO’s Online Chamber Ensemble and who got to meet the presenter of the awards, the wonderful Eimear Noone!

Eimear Noone, from County Galway has blazed a trail for female conductors as well as being a prolific composer. Eimear’s composing and conducting work includes twenty-six film and video game titles including notable Blizzard Entertainment titles and The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra CD. She has conducted many professional orchestras all over the world including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic and Danish National Symphony Orchestra, as well as being the first female conductor to conduct at the Oscars. Eimear spoke so inspirationally at the awards to the young musicians present and was extremely generous with her time and knowledge with each of them and we are very grateful to her.

Previous Winners

Over the years we have seen many fantastic orchestra projects and initiatives. We have selected just a few examples below, to give you an idea, but there are many more! 

Musica Fusion Youth Orchestra won the award for their ‘Operation Integration’ which led to 80 young musicians aged between 4 and 18 performing in their orchestra together. Special arrangements which contained multiple lines of music for each instrument made the pieces accessible to the wide range of ages performing.

Young European Strings won for the extremely high standard of technical and musical accomplishment of their CD, Third Edition.

Julianstown Youth Orchestra received the award for their Gesamtkunstwerk, a two-year collaborative project undertaken by the orchestra under the musical direction of its founder and director Fergus Sheil. Ten JYO players composed pieces of music and other JYO players came up with fantastic performance concepts. The compositions were then recorded in Windmill Lane Studios.

St Canice’s NS Kilkenny won the award for their concert which celebrated their 30 years of existence. From its humble beginnings in the early 1980s, initiated by Gina O’Leary & Agnes O’Kane, the programme expanded with the acquisition of more instruments, more music teachers and more enthusiastic students! The music programme granted all children the opportunity to play a musical instrument.

Athenry Youth Orchestra received the award for their orchestra development and outreach programmes in schools in Athenry and the surrounding areas. The programmes take place during school hours in the schools and provide children with free access to instruments that can often be expensive or more unusual.

St Agnes Chamber Orchestra were worthy awardees for their valiant and varied fundraising efforts to support their young musicians to participate in an exchange with an orchestra from Madrid. They even received an invite to the residence of the Irish Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, in June 2018 – a great honour for visitors from Dublin, and deeply appreciated in Crumlin.

The East Meets West Orchestra received the award for the collaboration of Kilbride and Lakeside Band from West Wicklow and the Headford Youth Orchestra from County Galway and their concert. The goal of the combined orchestra was to expand the playing experience of both groups, led by their musical directors.

You can read our full current plan for the Awards here including how we intend the awards to benefit our mission, our members and the young people who make up our youth orchestras.