Donegal students invited to audition for major concert

DMEP students, including well-known traditional musician Martin McGinley, earn distinctions in their Royal Irish Academy of Music exams

Donegal students invited to audition for major concert

Aisling Grier, Martin McGinley and Orsolya Yélamo.

Four music students from the Donegal Music Education Partnership, including well-known traditional musician Martin McGinley, have been invited to audition for a major classical music concert after earning distinctions in their examinations with the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

All four have been given the prestigious High Achiever Award by the RIAM. They are Paul Gillespie (cello), Ezgi Ozbay (piano), Shaun Fletcher (piano) and Martin McGinley (violin), who is the DMEP manager.

They’ve been asked to send video recordings of pieces to RIAM to help senior examiners choose performers for the High Achievers regional concert in Sligo next month.

About 42,000 music students do the RIAM examinations each year and of those about 450 get the High Achiever award.

Paul Gillespie, left, at Sligo International Chamber Music Festival. Photo: Brian Farrell.

Ruth Moody of RIAM’s Local Centres office said it’s a fantastic achievement for all four DMEP students.

“These High Achiever Awards are very special, and are based on the examiners’ recommendations,” she said. “It takes an exceptional performance in an exam to get one. All four DMEP students can be proud of themselves.”

Martin McGinley said the news of the award came as a bit of a shock personally, but he’s delighted that four DMEP students are RIAM High Achievers for 2017.

“There’s encouragement in this for people of all ages who are learning music or would like to. We’ve got a big range here, from Ezgi Ozbay, who’s setting out on her journey on the piano, to someone like myself, turning to classical violin after many years playing traditional music,” he said.

“The awards are a tribute to the DMEP tutors involved -  husband and wife team Victor Yélamo on cello and our full-time violin tutor Orsolya Szabo-Yélamo, and piano tutors Ursula Ó’Fáodhagáin and Edita Labanauskiene.”

Shaun Fletcher and Janet Fletcher.

The RIAM awards came at a range of examination grades – Shaun Fletcher at piano Grade 8 (the highest of the numbered grades); Ezgi Ozbay at piano Grade 2; Paul Gillespie at cello Grade 5; and Martin McGinley at violin Grade 6.

Aisling Grier, DMEP administrator, said the High Achiever awards are for families too. “Family support is vital in getting to this level, in terms of encouragement but also the day-to-day stuff of getting to lessons, examinations, workshops and performances.”

The RIAM High Achievers concert for Connacht-Ulster will take place on Sunday, Nov. 26th, at the Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo.

The Donegal Music Education Partnership organises music tuition in a range of instruments for almost 500 children and young people across Donegal. There are also 11 performing groups, including the Donegal Youth Orchestra and the Donegal Youth Choir. The DMEP is part of the Donegal ETB.

Ezgi Ozbay, with her mother and her tutor.

For more details on classes and groups, contact DMEP at 07491 76293 or email

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