Birr Festival of Music

An exciting weekend of classical music in locations around Birr. Highlights include;

  • Performances from leading Classical Music outfits

  • Masterclasses                  

  • The Trench Awards Gala Concert 

  • Birr Young Voices



The first of Birr's five annual Arts Festivals should now be gearing up to present great classical music throughout the town this coming May Bank Holiday Weekend. Alas, like so many other festivals this summer, it is a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will not be happening. However, it is not completely cancelled but optimistically postponed to the October Bank Holiday, depending on public health restrictions in place at that time.


In the meantime with a full programme of events planned, and with singers and musicians of international and national acclaim engaged, the festival will present some of the their wonderful music during the coming week through the Facebook and Twitter accounts.


THE TRENCH AWARD, which is the centrepiece on which Birr Festival of Music is built, aims to assist a young singer or musician in the classical field to develop a professional performance career through further study at home or abroad. The recipients of this valuable bursary and four other awards, including the Birr Lions Club bursary, the Canto Al Serchio award (for voice) the Audrey Chisholm award (for instrument) and Birr Stage Guild's audience choice award, are selected by a distinguished panel of music experts. The six finalists chosen in early March must be under 27 years and from the Midland region. As well as each performing a 15 minute programme in the Trench Award Gala Concert, they have rehearsals and interviews, receive masterclasses in their chosen field, and attend all festival events.


Introducing the six Trench 2020 finalists who were selected in early March - an array of highly gifted young emerging professionals.

Ben Gannon 


Age 20, Ben made his solo debut in Carnegie Hall in 2017, is a winner of many awards including the Birr Lions Club bursary in 2018. He was a finalist in the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Future 2019, and performs frequently with the RTÉ National Symphony and Concert Orchestras, and Ulster Orchestra. He is currently pursuing his BA in Music Performance at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin.

Jessica Hackett 


Undertaking an MA in Advanced Opera Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Jessica was also a Studio Artist with Northern Ireland Opera 2018/19. An avid cross-over singer, she has performed many leading roles in Opera and Musicals including 'Sweeny Todd', 'Die Fledermaus', 'Cendrillon', 'Phantom of the Opera', 'Rigoletto' (Gilda cover).

Orlaith McHugh


Beginning her violin studies at the age of six, Orlaith holds an Hons MA in Music Performance from Cork IT. She is now studying in Gothenburg, Sweden, and continues with her Masters in Symphonic Orchestra Performance there in 2020/21. As well as playing with various international orchestras she has performed in masterclasses for renowned musicians including Maxim Vengerov and Ray Chen

Sarah Luttrell 

Mezzo Soprano

An Hons graduate of TUD Conservatory of Music & Drama, Sarah has performed as a soloist for many oratorios including Handels 'Messiah', Mozart's 'Requiem', Vivaldis 'Gloria'  in various venues throughout Ireland. Opera performances include 'La Boheme' with Lyric Opera, 'Don Pasquale' with Blackwater Valley Opera Festival and 'Die Fledermaus' with Northern Ireland Opera. She continues her studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2020/21

Peter Regan


Peter's playing has brought him to Carnegie Hall New York, the Centre for Performing Arts Toronto, the National Concert Hall Dublin, and to London and Madrid. He has performed in festivals in Westport, Clandeboye, Boyle and the Winterval Festival. He graduated from the Glen Gould School of Music in 2018 studying under John O'Connor and is currently pursuing a master's at the Royal College of Music, London.

Mollie Wrafter Violin 

Currently studying at the RNCM, Manchester, Mollie was awarded the Irish Heritage Performance Bursary 2019/2020. Notable performances of this season include the Wigmore Hall and NCH Dublin. A multi-prize winner at Feis Ceoil, Mollie performed with the INYO, with SinfoNua under conductor David Brophy, with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra, and received the Musical Futures bursary at the Trench Awards in 2016. She is an avid champion and performer of chamber music, contemporary music and music composed by females.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Quick Sitemap

Birr Theatre & Arts Centre, Oxmantown Mall, Birr, Co Offaly Tel: 057 9122911  Chy No: 10478