Last year’s winner, violinist Julieanne Forrest helped launch the 2021 competition.

Competition for top student classical musician

Good news for Tipp’s top teen music talent as the 2021 Top Security/Frank Maher Classical Music Awards is now open for entries. With a €5,000 prize for the winner, it is the largest such competition for Irish secondary schools.

The Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards were first created in 2001 by Emmet O’Rafferty, chairman of the Top Security Group, to honour the memory of his late teacher, Fr Frank Maher, a pioneer in the nurturing of musical talent in secondary schools. They went nationwide in 2012.

Emmet said: “From small beginnings, the awards are now into their tenth year of national competition, and we never cease to be amazed and delighted at the incredible teenage talent that it attracts We’re proud to be able to support these young people when they need it most and very much looking forward to meeting this year’s finalists.”

The award entrants are a rollcall of rising young Irish classical music talent. Past winners also include pianists Kevin Jansson, Aidan Chan and Maire Carroll, violinist Mairead Hickey and cellists Sinead O’Halloran and Killian White. All the winners have received national and international recognition for their achievements and used their prize money as a springboard towards a professional career by funding their studies at some of the world’s most renowned music colleges and institutions. These include Juilliard School, Barenboim-Said Akademie, Royal College of Music, Conservatoire Nationale Superieur de Musique et de Danse and Kronberg Academy.

The awards are open to sixth year post-primary students of string, woodwind, brass and piano. The €5,000 top prize will be used by the winner 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. The remaining finalists will each receive a €300 bursary.


The closing date for this year’s entries is Friday, October 8, and the competition night is scheduled to take place on Friday, October 29, in Dublin. Further information, rules and a copy of the application form for downloading on