Veronica Dunne Competition
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A dhaoine uaisle, is mór an onóir dom a bheith anseo libh anocht chun an naoú comórtas amhránaíochta idirnáisiúnta Veronica Dunne a lainseáil, a bheidh le feiceáil san Amharclann Náisiúnta ó 25 go 31 Eanáir.
Last Friday I launched “100 years of women in politics and public life,” which gave an account of the complex narrative surrounding participation in political and public life over the last one hundred years. These women blazed a trail for all of us in public life today. They were not the only ones.
For anyone growing up in Ireland in the last sixty years Veronica Dunne has been a household name. We did not have to be interested or know anything about opera but we knew that Veronica Dunne was Irish Opera. We owe her a huge debt not just for establishing this competition but for the work she has done in developing young singers in this country, many of whom have gone on to have international careers. She has worked tirelessly to promote opera and to ensure that anyone with talent will be encouraged.
Last January, I attended the competition’s Gala Dinner and I had the absolute pleasure of chatting to Dr. Dunne for the evening. I had an opportunity to hear first-hand about her hard work and passion which has remained unabated down the years. I can honestly say that she is an inspiration to all of us who are interested in public service. I want to thank her not just for the difference she has made in promoting the arts but for the great role model she has been to women and to any person who wants to make a difference.
Since it was first held in 1995 the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition has developed into a highly prestigious and well regarded competition of international significance. That first competition was won by Orla Boylan who is now well known on the international stage and who this year is on the jury. There have also been many distinguished prize winners who have gone on to have great careers including Irish singers Tara Erraught, Miriam Murphy, Dean Power and Gemma Ní Bhriain.
Since the inaugural event the competition has grown not only in the number of competitors but also in status. The best of international artists enter and strive to carry off the top accolade. In 2016, the last time the event was held, almost sixty international participants competed. Participation in the event provides a platform for artists to promote themselves and it helps develop an artist’s career. Niamh O’Sullivan from Cork who joined the Bavarian State Opera Studio following her performance in the 2016 event is evidence of the impact the competition can have.
Of course the worth of a competition may be assessed by the quality of the jury panel. The Veronica Dunne competition has been successful in attracting first class adjudicators throughout the years.
Included in the jury for the first competition was the late great Australian soprano Dame Joan Sutherland.
Other acclaimed adjudicators down through the years have included Sir Thomas Allen as well as globally successful Irish figures such as Patricia Bardon and James Vaughan.
This year’s Jury is as strong as ever. It is chaired by Jane Carty and its members include:
- John Gilhooley, from Limerick, Director of the Wigmore Hall, London;
- Orla Boylan, Dublin Soprano, who I mentioned earlier, winner of the first Veronica Dunne Competition in 1995;
- Sir Richard Bonynge, Australian Conductor and Pianist;
- James Vaughan, former student of the Royal Irish Academy and now Head of Music at the La Scala;
- Peter Carwell, Executive Director of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation;
- Andreas Massow, Manager of Artistic Administration, Bavarian State Opera; and
- Evamaria Wieser, Artistic Administrator, Salzburg Festival.
I think it is apt that the launch of this competition, which serves to encourage and support young artists, is being held here in the Royal Irish Academy of Music. The Academy, Ireland’s oldest music institution, is the seat of learning for our young musicians. You will be aware that the Academy has ambitious development plans. I am pleased to say that just a few weeks ago I announced my support for these plans with a pledge of €3 million towards the cost of the development.
Before I close, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the organisers of the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition all the best for 2019 and beyond.
It was Andrea Bocelli who said;
‘To sing opera, one needs two things, the voice and the passion – and above all the passion.’
Well we are fortunate that Veronica was gifted with both the voice and the passion.
All that remains is for me to say thank you to the Friends of the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition, sponsors and supporters; to you all for supporting the event, an event of international standing that we may all be proud of.