The new Young Voice of Laois has been found, in 17 year old Abbeyleix singer, songwriter and guitarist Michael Kirkman.
The only boy among 14 finalists, he wowed the judges at last Saturday’s final in the Castle Arms Hotel. Michael played his guitar and sang the appropriately titled song Never Say You Can’t, a Bruno Mars song. He almost got the date wrong of the competition final, but made it in time, with his mother Leslie, who was tearfully proud of her son on the night.
The fifth year student of Heywood CS receives a Voice Training Scholarship sponsored by the Laois School of Music, and will perform at their anniversary concert in the Dunamase Theatre, as well as at the Durrow Scarecrow Festival this summer.
He was presented with the Ronan Lawlor Memorial Perpetual Trophy, a special award sponsored by the Lawlor family in Durrow in memory of their son, a talented musician who died tragically aged 28 while climbing in South America in 2007.
The competition, run by Durrow Development Forum in conjunction with Laois School of Music had their biggest number of entrants since beginning three years ago. They were whittled down to 16, but only 14 turned up on the night, along with a full audience of supporters.
Highly commended were Dearbhala Dunne, 16, from Mountmellick, and Emma Conroy, 18, from Camross.
In third place was Bronwyn Dunne, 16, a 4th year student at Heywood CS, and in second place was Sarah Luttrell, also 16, from Ballybrittas.
Other finalists were Rachel Matthews, age 13 from Emo, Ciara Finlay, 17, from Portlaoise, Ava Lalor, 13, from Abbeyleix, Rachel Byrne aged 12 from Rathleague, Amie O’Reilly aged 13 from Emo, Taylor Smith aged 12 from Portlaoise,
Lorna Campion aged 17 from Durrow, Hannah Stokes from Durrow, and Pippa Anderson, 16, from Durrow.
Special guest on the night was last year’s winner Aine Delaney from Mountmellick, who sang and thanked everyone for an enjoyable year. More interval entertainment was provided by Trio Vocalise, Nuala Kelly, Georgina Ireland and Vivian Graham and soloist Vicky Murphy.
Judges were popular singer Damian Bowe, Helena Begley, a leading light in the stage musical world, and Geraldine Ryan, a music teacher and prize winning musician.
Laois School of Music have an outreach centre in Durrow, where piano and guitar students are welcome. Contact Vicky at 086 1000230.