Our featured May 2023 Festival Rising Stars are Irish flautist Amy Gillen and pianist Frasier Hickland, both of whom have already made an impressive impact on the music scene at home and abroad.
Winner of the Sir James Galway Rising Star Award and the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year, Amy has performed as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, has made her debut performance at London’s Wigmore Hall and was selected by the Royal College of Music to perform for Britain’s Prince Charles in 2021.
Amy will be joined by the acclaimed young Irish pianist Fraiser Hickland, who has recently been featured on both BBC Radio 3 ‘In Tune’, and on BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Classical Connections’.
Their gorgeous programme showcases the great versatility of the flute and piano repertoire, crossing centuries and continents from Prokofiev's romantic Romeo and Juliet Suite to music by Japanese film composer Takatsugu Muramatsu. The concert will also include a chance to hear the winning work from the West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival Composition Competition 2023.
This concert will include an opportunity to hear more from the West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival Composition Competition 2023 winner, in an interview hosted by the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland.
“Amy is an immediately engaging artist from the moment she steps on the platform. She is a true musician in every sense.”John Gilhooly OBE, Director of Wigmore Hall
Irish Flutist Amy Gillen plays with ‘incredible dexterity and musicality’ and ‘sparkling fluidity and pristine clarity’. This review comes from the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year Final by music critic Dick O’Riordan where Amy was the winner of the 2018 Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year and was also awarded the Conrad O’Sullivan Memorial Award for the best woodwind/brass performance in the competition.
Amy graduated from the Royal College of Music London as a Russell Race Scholar with a Distinction First Class Honours Masters of Music Performance in Classical and Jazz Flute. She was also awarded the prestigious Tagore Gold Medal for her outstanding contribution musically and to the life of the RCM. As part of being awarded the Tagore Gold Medal, Amy will be presented with the medal by HRH Prince of Wales. Most recently she was invited to perform for HRH Prince of Wales at the official grand opening of the Royal College of Music's new 24 million building development. She received a first class honours in her BA in Music Performance in Flute from Trinity College Dublin/Royal Irish Academy of Music in 2018 and also received her Licentiate Teaching Diploma from the RIAM. Amy was awarded the McCullough Cup and RTÉ Lyric FM Bursary at the 2019 Feis Ceoil Dublin. She has performed as soloist with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in 2018 and 2019. In February 2022, she recorded some solo music with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra for future broadcast on RTÉ Lyric FM in June 2022. This was as a result of winning the 2019 RDS Jago Award.
In November 2018, Amy made her debut performance at the Wigmore Hall in London where she was awarded the 2018 Irish Heritage Bursary for Performance. Commenting on the bursary being awarded, John Gilhooly OBE Chairman of the adjudicators and director of the Wigmore Hall said, “Amy is an immediately engaging artist from the moment she steps on the platform. She is a true musician in every sense. She greatly impressed the jury and this bursary comes at an important time in her development.” In December 2019, Amy played at the Soireé d’Or Royal College of Music event at the Victoria and Albert Museum London.
Amy has won numerous prizes, which include the 2021 Blackwater Valley Opera Festival Bursary, 2017 Sir James Galway Rising Star Award and a 14K Gold Nagahara head joint for her flute at the 2017 Galway Flute Festival (GFF), Switzerland; the Flax Trust Bursary and the Audience Award at the Flax Trust Music Awards in Belfast in October 2017; a Gemeinhardt piccolo at the 2016 GFF, Switzerland; the Yamaha Woodwind and Brass Bursary for Ireland in 2015; the Most Promising Young Musician at the 2015 Clandeboye Music Festival Belfast and a Haynes head joint at the 2015 GFF, Switzerland. As part of the Sir James Galway Rising Star Award, Amy gave a recital at the 2018 GFF Switzerland, which was supported by Culture Ireland. Amy also received funding towards the purchase of a new flute by the Music Network Music Capital Scheme and is supported by the Arts Council Travel and Training Award.
Amy has subbed with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. She was selected to participate in the BBC Symphony Orchestra Pathway Scheme for 2018/2019 and also participated in the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra Mentoring Scheme (2015-2017). Amy was selected as Principal Flute of the Royal College of Music Chamber Orchestra to play in Windsor Castle for Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. She was also Principal Flute of the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra for concerts conducted by Rafael Payare, Sir Antonio Pappano, John Wilson and Michael Rosewell.
Pianist Frasier Hickland studies with Simon Lepper, Kathron Sturrock and Roger Vignoles at the Royal College of Music, London, and having graduated with a First Class Honours degree from the Royal Irish Academy of Music under the tutelage of Professor Anthony Byrne. He is a SongEasel Young Artist, and has participated in masterclasses with renowned musicians Sir Thomas Allen, John O’Conor, Finghin Collins, Kathryn Harries, Ingrid Surgenor, Dennis O’Neill, and Iain Burnside, among others. He has been featured on both BBC Radio 3 ‘In Tune’, and on BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Classical Connections’. He has also performed in many prestigious venues in Europe and America, including Wigmore Hall, London, the Willard InterContinental, Washington DC, the Royal Over-Seas League, London, the Yacht Club de Monaco, Monte-Carlo, the National Concert Hall, Dublin, the Ulster Hall, Belfast, and at the BMS International Festival of Chamber Music. He was selected to work in a residency with distinguished composer Sally Beamish OBE, and gave the Irish premiere of her piece “Wild Swans” as part of ChamberFest Dublin.
Competition successes include winning the Accompanist’s Prize in the John Kerr Award for English Song, the Irish Heritage Accompanist’s Award, the Pianist Prize in the Brooks-van der Pump English Song Competition and the John Benson Memorial Cup in the Royal Dublin Society Feis Ceoil.