Music Capital Scheme Spotlight

The Music Capital Scheme was established by The Arts Council, The IRMA Trust and Music Network in 2008 to provide support for the purchase of musical instruments. In response to the success of the initial pilot scheme, funding has been made available since 2011 by The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. 301 awards have been made to date under the Music Capital Scheme, enabling musicians across the country to develop and fulfill their creative potential. Below is a snapshot of just some recent Music Capital Scheme Awardees doing great work with their new instruments…

Headway Ireland

Headway Ireland provides rehabilitation services for people living with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) to help them rebuild their life after a brain injury. The organisation received Music Capital Scheme funding to purchase a digital piano for their choir. The Headway Ireland Choir brings together people from different cultural backgrounds who share a passion for music to develop skills and confidence across several areas including listening, vocal production, group participation and cooperation. It also seeks to develop performance-related skills and confidence, and to impact positively on the emotional management and mood of its members. The choir uses its platform to raise awareness of ABI and the challenges it presents to people recovering from it.

“In our case, the Music Capital Scheme has literally helped to give a voice to the voiceless. Many clients affected by Acquired Brain Injury experience language difficulties such as aphasia which make it almost impossible for some people to communicate in spoken language. A choir is one form of expression which helps to build confidence, improve expressive skills and to provide an important social outlet for people affected with lifelong disability following brain injury.”


Lucia Mac Partlin 

“The Music Capital Scheme is one of the most important resources for professional musicians in Ireland today. The support of the scheme is ensuring that Irish musicians, and the rich culture of music in Ireland, are both thriving." 

Lucia is from Ballina, Co. Tipperary and began playing the fiddle at the age of four. While she first started off playing classical music, she quickly began to develop an interest in and a love for traditional Irish music and has since become an accomplished player in many different genres. She is the winner of many national titles, including the Fiddler of Dooney, the International Pan Celtic title and has numerous All Ireland titles from Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Lucia completed her four-year BMus degree at CIT Cork School of Music where she studied classical music with Gregory Ellis and traditional music with Johnny McCarthy. She also has recently completed her MA in performance at both CIT Cork School of Music and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden where she also undertook to learn some Swedish Folk music. Lucia is a member of Strung, a contemporary Irish music ensemble, who originally formed in Cork and have toured extensively in Ireland, Europe and the USA. She has also performed around the world with ensembles and orchestras including The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, The National Folk Orchestra of Ireland, The University of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Suptrio and Atlas. Lucia received Music Capital Scheme funding to purchase an Ian Knepper violin.


Matthew Noone  

Matthew 'Mattu' Noone, is an Australian-Irish ex-indie rocker and well-known performer of a 23-stringed lute called a sarode.  He has studied North Indian Classical music for over a decade with Sougata Roy Chowdhury in Kolkata and more recently with UK based sarodiya, K. Sridhar.  He has performed Indian music across the globe and was a founding member of successful fusion group, The Bahh Band.  He has recorded with a host of contemporary Irish musicians such as Tommy Hayes, Sean Tyrell and Ronan O'Snodaigh and collaborated with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill on a recent tour of India.  Matthew plays a hybrid sarode which was created with funds from the Music Capital Scheme to develop a new instrument particularly for playing Irish traditional music.

"The Music Network Capital Scheme completely transformed my performance career through the acquisition of a new instrument- an Indian 23 stringed lute called the sarode.  The unique tuning of this specifically designed instrument allowed me to explore the world of Irish traditional music.  Over the last three years, this new instrument has become my main performance tool and has led me to collaborate with musicians of the highest caliber in Ireland and also in India.  It has led to a more regular performance career and a much higher profile as an artist.  It also has transformed the way I play and think about music".  

Laoise Kelly

Laoise Kelly is regarded as “the most significant harper of her generation” (Nuala O’Connor). She has produced three critically acclaimed solo albums ‘Just Harp’ (1999), ‘Ceis’ (2010), and ‘Fáilte Uí Cheallaigh’ (2015), as well as a live duo album, ‘The Wishing Well’ (2010), with fiddle player Michelle O’Brien. Laoise was a founding member of traditional group ‘Bumblebees’ with whom she recorded two albums (1997, 1999) and toured extensively internationally. Laoise continues to tour with Trad legends Tommy Peoples & Breanndán Begley since their Music Network tour in 2011. She also has a number of musical collaborators including a duo and upcoming album with Uilleann Piper Tiarnan Ó Duinnchinn, Albiez Trio with Cormac Breatnach (whistle) & Tola Custy (fiddle), Scottish Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes, Double Bassist Martin Brunsden, and is a member of ‘Fiddletree’ a group from America, Cape Breton and Scotland who play 8 instruments made from the same tree - they have released two albums to date. Laoise received Music Capital Scheme funding to purchase an Irish harp.

"This is a fantastic resource for musicians who have difficulty funding necessary instruments".

Patrick Joseph Rafter  

Regarded as one of Ireland’s most promising musicians, international award-winning violinist Patrick Rafter has toured Europe, Asia and America as Concert Violinist, Chamber and Orchestral musician, and currently studies under Maxim Vengerov and Oleg Kaskiv at the International Menuhin Music Academy Switzerland. Patrick received Music Capital Scheme funding to purchase a violin bow.

"Music Network provides an invaluable support to professional musicians in their pursuit of obtaining and owning high-quality instruments. The Music Capital Scheme provides an excellent opportunity for young professionals who find obtaining high-quality instruments nigh on impossible in today’s economy".

Eilís Lavelle  

Harp player and teacher Eilís Lavelle has won many awards and accolades including All-Ireland Fleadh titles, the Oireachtas and the O’Carolan Cup at the ESB Feis Cheoil. Having completed her BMus degree at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, she was awarded the Leo Rowsome award for the highest achievement in traditional music 2013. She completed a Masters in Music at Queen’s University in Belfast in 2014 and is currently undertaking a PhD in music, focusing on old harp collections and music from the 1800s. Eilís has premiered contemporary works by Linda Buckley (RTÉ’s resident composer in 2012), with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and has performed in the O2, Dublin as part of the Notre Dame Gathering alongside Noel Eccles. She is also a member of the band Skipper’s Alley, who have released their first album following a win of the coveted Loic Raison competition in Lorient, Brittany. Eilís Lavelle received Music Capital Scheme funding to purchase an Irish harp.

"The Music Capital Scheme is vital available funding for musicians in Ireland to avail of more superior instruments. It is becoming increasingly difficult to source the means to purchase such instruments, making this scheme crucial to Irish musicians who want to progress in the music industry".

ICO Sing Out with Strings

The Irish Chamber Orchestra's Sing Out with Strings project works with children in Limerick's regenerating areas, providing workshops in singing, songwriting and eventually violin. The aim of the project is to encourage, engage and enlighten children through a positive creative experience with professional musicians and artists. Speaking to The Journal of Music, Katherine Barnecutt, Education and Outreach Officer for the Irish Chamber Orchestra, said the impact of the Music Capital Scheme award has been immeasurable. Last year they purchased six double basses, five cellos and twenty violas that have enabled them to take on a more diverse repertoire, but they also need to replenish much of their old stock.

"After 8 years teaching 300 children the violin 2/3 times a week, the strings and bows have become particularly exhausted, drastically affecting the quality of the sound. This award will allow us to acquire better quality stringed instruments which are essential to support children progressing to study at a higher level. In addition, we will purchase a portable stage piano to accompany the growing number of children studying for exams, for performances citywide and for our song-writing programme.  Receiving this award has been nothing short of transformative."

Neil O’Connor 

Neil O’Connor has been involved in experimental, electronic and electro-acoustic music for the past sixteen years and has toured extensively in Ireland, Europe, Australia, Asia and the US. His work has been shown/performed at Resonances Festival @ IRCAM Paris, Kunsthalle, Berlin, Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art, London. He has held residencies at the Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art, USA and EMS – Swedish Institute of Electro-Acoustic Music, Stockholm, Sweden. As a composer, he has written for solo, duo, string quartet, large ensemble and orchestra along with mixed media projects. He has recently worked with the Bang on a Can Ensemble and David Crowell (Phillip Glass Ensemble). Neil received Music Capital Scheme funding to purchase a modular synthesiser.

"It’s a Make Music System Cartesian Modular Synthesizer. It’s capable of several types of synthesis: subtractive, additive, FM, phase modulation, ring modulation, amplitude modulation and more, often simultaneously. I plan on using it to enhance my live performance, particularly for improvisations with other modular synthesizer performers and hope to form an ensemble around this: the group is called TME (Temporary Modular Ensemble)".

Liam O'Connor  

Liam O’Connor, one of Ireland’s leading fiddle players, was born into a musical family in Dublin. His father Mick O’Connor is a flute player and researcher of music who was a founder member of the Castle Céilí Band. During his youth, Liam was taught by Séamus Glackin and won several All-Ireland and Oireachtas fiddle titles. He was awarded TG4 Young Musician of the Year in 2002. He has performed as a soloist and in duets with Liam O’Flynn, Noel Hill and Harry Bradley among others. In 2009, he released a critically acclaimed CD entitled “Dublin Made Me” with uilleann piper Seán McKeon and in March 2017 released his long awaited solo CD “The Loom”, described by The Irish Times as "A multi-layered treasure trove." (*****) Liam received Music Capital Scheme funding to purchase a violin bow.

"It is great that there is a forum for funding individual musicians who put in so much time and money over many years. The fact that, through Music Network, the state is meeting some musicians 50:50 is very important; the need for appropriate quality tools is often imperative for musicians to fully develop and unfortunately the cost of quality musical instruments is often beyond us. However, by backing the musicians 50:50 you can enable them to attain excellent instruments and the musician can be offered a chance to strive at a level that would be beyond them on an inferior instrument".   

Julianstown Youth Orchestra

The Julianstown Youth Orchestra was founded in 2011 by Maria and Fergus Sheil. It has quickly grown and now has approximately 100 members which are organised into 2 orchestras - a junior orchestra consisting of primary school children and a senior orchestra consisting mainly of secondary school students. The aim of the orchestra is to provide a uniquely high-quality music experience for its members, who are drawn from counties Meath, Louth and Dublin. The orchestra operates as a not-for-profit community organisation. It is led musically by Fergus Sheil and operated by a voluntary committee. Julianstown Youth Orchestra received Music Capital Scheme funding to purchase a full set of Timpani and percussion as well as lower strings and brass instruments.

"Having the support of the Music Network Music Capital Scheme has enabled Julianstown Youth Orchestra to hugely expand its artistic horizons and to also enable more young people to take part in the unique experience of playing in a youth orchestra. The orchestra has purchased a full set of Timpani and percussion as well as lower strings and brass instruments with MCS support. This has opened up new repertoire for the group and enabled the creation of a genuine full orchestral sound. Many different members have had opportunities to use these instruments which are distributed to players on a needs basis and rotated over a period of years. It undoubtedly has encouraged many new players to become involved in the orchestra as well as diversifying the talents of existing members. All our instruments are in regular use and maintained to a high standard." Fergus Sheil, Julianstown Youth Orchestra

. @MusNetIrl will host 'The Butterfly Sessions': a new digital performance series premiering newly-commissioned mus……

03 April 2020 Follow @musnetirl