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The Venue

17 June 2019

2019 RDS Music Bursary Winner Annouced

  • Cork Leaving Cert student Kevin Jansson awarded RDS Music Bursary valued at €15,000 – yet to sit his Leaving Cert music exam
  • Judges describe him as ‘brilliant in all respects’
  • Bursary to help with 18-year-old Kevin’s studies in New York

Leaving cert student Kevin Jansson was today (17.06.19) announced as the 2019 RDS Music Bursary winner. Valued at €15,000, the RDS Music Bursary is the single largest annual classical music award in Ireland and one of the largest in Europe. The RDS Jago Award of €5,000, the second of the RDS Music Bursary prizes, was awarded to flautist Amy Gillen. Both musicians will also receive professional performance engagements with RTÉ Orchestras as part of their prizes


Eighteen-year-old Kevin is currently studying piano in CIT Cork School of Music with Mary Beattie and will sit his Leaving Cert Music exam this Thursday. He will use the prize money to help fund his studies at the prestigious Julliard School, Manhattan, New York, where he has been accepted with a scholarship to study piano with Dr Veda Kaplinsky and Julian Martin.


Former General Manager of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra Brian O’Rourke was chair of this year’s judging panel, who were so impressed with Kevin’s application form, performance and interview that he was awarded full marks and was described as ‘brilliant in all respects’.


Kevin was the winner of three prizes in the 2019 Feis Ceoil, including the Morris Grant Bursary which is one of the qualifying competitions for the RDS Music Bursary. He is also the recipient of numerous international awards and accolades. In 2018 he won first prize at the Jeune Chopin Competition in Switzerland which resulted in concert engagements in France, Switzerland and Poland. In 2017 he won first prize in the Euregio Piano Award International Competition in Germany, the Isidor Bajić Piano Memorial Competition in Serbia, and the Val Tidone International Competition (piano category) in Italy, where he was also awarded first prize in the violin category with full marks awarded and got a special prize as the most outstanding string player in the competition.


He has an impressive and extensive list of performances to his name, including performances with Camerata Ireland, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and the New York Concerti Sinfonietta in Carnegie Hall. Kevin was the youngest ever member of the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and has given a private performance of Chopin and Rachmaninov for President Michael D. Higgins in Áras an Uachtaráin.

“We are delighted to award Kevin Jansson this year’s Bursary, he really impressed the judges and undoubtedly is a performer with a very exciting career ahead of him” said RDS Chief Executive Michael Duffy. “Studying under Veda Kaplinsky is a brilliant opportunity and we wish him every success with his move to New York. Classical music has a strong tradition within the RDS. By backing talents such as Kevin and Amy we are supporting classical music performance in Ireland and encouraging others to reach their musical potential.”

In addition to the €15,000 prize, Kevin will also benefit from some key RDS partnerships in 2020 a partnership with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra will offer him a professional engagement and a partnership with Irish Heritage in London will offer him a recital in London, next year.


Winner of the 2019 RDS Jago Award of €5,000 is flautist Amy Gillen, who is a graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin and is currently studying for a master’s in music performance in Flute at the Royal College of Music in London. She has won numerous awards including in 2018, first prize in the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year and the Irish Heritage London Bursary. In the 2019 Feis Ceoil she won the McCullough Cup and the RTÉ lyric FM bursary of €1,500. She has performed extensively and regularly deputised as Principal Flute with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. Amy plans to use the prize money from the RDS Jago Award, which also comes with a performance opportunity with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, towards the purchase of a new professional quality instrument.


Candidates for the Bursary can be Irish born or Irish resident, over eighteen and become eligible by winning one of five specified senior competitions in the Feis Ceoil classical music competition of the same year. The five competitions comprise of piano, strings, woodwind, voice and brass. Winners of these competitions are invited to apply to the RDS and the bursary is awarded based on a detailed outline of their future plans, the outcome of a panel interview and a live performance which took place on Saturday (15.06.19) in the RDS Concert Hall.


The RDS Music Bursary was set up in 2003 by the RDS Committee of Arts, whose goal is: To provide a platform that supports the transition from student to emerging artist; encouraging the pursuit of a career in visual art, craft or music.



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