National Concert Hall and Sounding the Feminists Announce Winners of Female Commissioning Scheme

National Concert Hall and Sounding the Feminists Announce Winners of Female Commissioning Scheme

Established Commission Award: Éna Brennan (Rupture VII) €10,000 

Mid-Career/Emerging Commission Award: Amelia Clarkson (I AM LEDA) €3,000 

Music Recording Award: Finola Merivale (Do You Hear Me Now?) €10,000 

Music Project Award: Wyvern Lingo (Collaborative Audio / Visual livestream concert performance) €15,000


The National Concert Hall and Sounding the Feminists (STF) are delighted to announce the winners of its Female Commissioning Scheme; namely Éna Brennan (Established Composer), Amelia Clarkson (Emerging Composer), Finola Merivale (Music Recording Award) and Wyvern Lingo (Music Project Award). The scheme offers established and emerging female and female-identifying musicians and composers from all musical idioms a new platform to create work. This year saw the scheme expand to include the new strand of ‘Recordings’ and ‘Projects’, the former to support a high-quality professional recording project and the latter to support high-quality music projects. 

The Female Commissioning Scheme is part of a five-year partnership initiative with NCH and Sounding the Feminists, established in 2018 and supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media, under the Creative Ireland programme with co-funding confirmed in the form of €20,000 a year, over five years. That makes it a significant contribution to promoting work by female musicians and composers.  
Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media said: “I am delighted that the Department has been able to support the Sounding the Feminists and National Concert Hall initiative as part of a five-year partnership that is funded by the Creative Ireland Programme. This funding has been a great support to female composers in the music industry. I would like to congratulate the winners of the Female Commissioning Scheme as part of this initiative. This scheme offers a fantastic platform for established and emerging female musicians and composers to create, record and produce new music projects.” 
Speaking of the initiative Maura McGrath, Chair of the National Concert Hall said: "The restrictions posed by Covid 19 have had serious adverse effects on all sectors of the arts, so supporting our creative community is more important than ever. Today we are delighted to announce the winners of the third instalment of this important initiative with Sounding the Feminists, which is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media under the Creative Ireland Programme, to whom we are very grateful. 
We are very pleased to be in a position to provide valuable funding to this year’s deserving recipients, who have each displayed outstanding skill and creativity. The NCH together with STF will continue to create opportunities for and promote the work of female and female-identifying composers and musicians in Ireland, across musical genres. This partnership initiative is central to achieving this aim”. 

Karen Power, Chair of Sounding the Feminists said: "STF were hugely impressed by the depth and diversity of creative voices that emerged through this scheme. There is an abundance of skilled women working across many areas of Ireland's music sector. We are thrilled that this partnership enables us to support even a small portion of some of the most original and valuable work out there."
“We’re delighted to support Sounding the Feminists. Sustained funding from Creative Ireland over 5 years has enabled the NCH to support composers and begin to address glaring imbalances. We all look forward to hearing these new recordings and live streams in 2021” said Tania Banotti, Director of the Creative Ireland Programme. 




Éna Brennan is a Dublin-based composer, arranger, violinist and graphic designer, originally from Brussels. Her work has been performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Crash Ensemble, Dulciana Vocal Ensemble, Tonnta Vocal Ensemble, New Dublin Voices and Mornington Singers. Éna's main musical outlet is her experimental solo project Dowry and she manages a string quartet called Dowry Strings. Her Rupture series - consisting of six works to date - is an exploration of conflict, dichotomy and rupture within the human body and mind. Following on from a micro-opera for the Irish National Opera, Éna continues her series with a 10-12 minute piece written for strings, electronics, percussion and upper voices. The themes of the Rupture series address many elements of social and gender disparity with the female voice at its core. 


Amelia Clarkson is a composer from County Down. Her artistic practice is centred on navigating potent social and political issues, juxtaposing folk influences and classical elements in her approach. Recent works include A Picture on the Wall for the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, song-set Through His Gaze for the 2020 Presteigne Festival and 2019 ballet Dear Frances.  Amelia's work is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her new piece, I AM LEDA, will form a non-verbal retaliation to Yeats’s Leda and the Swan, considering the victim’s perspective of the story to challenge the injustices of victim-blaming and the damaging effects of romanticising non-consensual sex in classical and popular culture. 


Finola Merivale is an Irish composer living in New York. She is pursuing a DMA in Composition at Columbia University, studying with George Lewis, Georg Friedrich Haas and Zosha Di Castri. Her music has been performed by International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Crash Ensemble and musicians from the Chicago and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, amongst others. She has recently been commissioned by Irish National Opera, National Sawdust and the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. Do You Hear Me Now? will be an album of music composed between 2012 and the present, for strings, piano and electronics. Pieces will include Release for violin & piano, commissioned by Music Network in 2019, and Do You Hear Me Now? for string trio, commissioned by Kirkos Ensemble. The album is a collaboration with the accomplished Desdemona Ensemble, who have been described by the New Yorker as an “excellent young quartet”. It will be Finola’s debut album. 


Wyvern Lingo are a trio from Ireland, who grew up playing music together. After the release of their Choice Prize - nominated debut album in 2018, the band toured extensively throughout Ireland, the UK and Europe, enjoying stints on tour supporting the likes of Hozier, James Vincent McMorrow and Grace Jones. Members Caoimhe Barry, Karen Cowley and Saoirse Duane recorded their new album Awake You Lie in Berlin’s JRS recording studios. 

The album was named Awake You Lie because it evokes an image of night-time when someone should be sleeping but can’t, due to restlessness or worry. The theme of the album addresses this unease and highlights female friendships and the comfort that they can bring. This performance is part of a series that will develop/build on the visual identity/representation of the new record and will feature bespoke digital installations created by album designer Liing Heaney, as well as special guests. Wyvern Lingo's performance aims to redress issues of gender imbalance in the industry by being work that is written, produced and performed by women. 


Judges for the awards were as follows:

Commissions Award: Cat Hope (Composer, musician and academic), Anne Hilde Neset (Director of Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo) and Áine O'Dwyer (Artist). 

Music Recording Award: Toner Quinn (Editor, Journal of Music), Catherine Sikora (Saxophonist, improviser and composer) and Heather Roche (Clarinettist and Reviews Editor for Tempo). 

Music Projects Award: Juliet Fraser (Soprano - UK), Olga Barry (Director, Kilkenny Arts Festival) and  Belinda Quirke (Director, Solstice Arts Centre).  

Media Queries to Sinead Doyle, Marketing & PR Manager, National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2. Tel: 087 1775334, E-mail: [email protected] or Roisin Dwyer PR & Publications Executive National Concert Hall Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2. Tel: 085 7129628, E-mail: [email protected]

Media Release Thursday 11th February 2021