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Nils Kavanagh, a 20-year-old jazz pianist from Sligo, became the inaugural recipient of the Young Irish Jazz Musician Award Nils Kavanagh, a 20-year-old jazz pianist from Sligo, became the inaugural recipient of the Young Irish Jazz Musician Award

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Sligo pianist wins inaugural Young Irish Jazz Musician Award at UCH

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Nils Kavanagh, a 20-year-old jazz pianist from Sligo, became the inaugural recipient of the Young Irish Jazz Musician Award.

Limerick Jazz in partnership with Improvised Music Company hosted the first-ever Young Irish Jazz Musician Awards

Nils will now have the opportunity to make a studio recording with a professional ensemble and perform in UCH’s Rising Stars Concert.
Nils will now have the opportunity to make a studio recording with a professional ensemble and perform in UCH’s Rising Stars Concert.

Nils Kavanagh, a 20-year-old jazz pianist from Sligo, became the inaugural recipient of the Young Irish Jazz Musician award 2022 at University Concert Hall, Limerick on Sunday, April 10. He was chosen for the award by an adjudicating panel led by legendary Limerick musician Bill Whelan. The event featured six finalists from Clare, Cork, Dublin and Meath as well as Sligo, aged between 17 and 22.

Nils Kavanagh was introduced to jazz through his participation in the Sligo Jazz Project when he was 16. He is currently working as a professional musician in Cardiff and studying Jazz Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He will now have the opportunity to make a studio recording with a professional ensemble and perform in UCH’s Rising Stars Concert alongside outstanding young musicians in classical music and opera. Nils will also receive a bursary to take part in an international jazz summer school, showcasing young Irish jazz talent on a wider stage.

Limerick Jazz in partnership with Improvised Music Company (IMC) hosted the first ever Young Irish Jazz Musician in 2022. The history of Irish jazz is strongly present in both organisations as Limerick Jazz celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and Improvised Music Company its 30th. The inaugural Young Irish Jazz Musician Award spotlights the outstanding talent in the Irish jazz scene and the promise for the next 40 years of jazz in Ireland.

Limerick Jazz and IMC plan to make this a regular event to raise jazz’s profile with young people who can combine their entries with the study of improvised music as part of their broader Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle music studies.

Bill Whelan, Chair of the adjudicating panel said, “This was a very inspiring evening. The standard of these young musicians was quite outstanding and bodes very well for the future of Irish music.”

John Daly, Chair of Limerick Jazz said, “Limerick Jazz are delighted with the success of the first-ever Young Irish Jazz Musician event. Our feedback from the finalists and the adjudicators was very positive. The finalists particularly valued the opportunity to rehearse extensively with the house band over the weekend and get to know their peers from across the country. We are delighted to have IMC as a valued partner for this event.”

Kenneth Killeen, Director, Improvised Music Company added, “IMC are thrilled to be part of this significant new platform for emerging jazz professionals with the wonderful Limerick Jazz team. It’s been a goal of ours for some time to develop National talent development programmes for Irish artists. Providing this platform to spotlight and acknowledge formative jazz talent is crucial for the long-term development and sustainability of this music. I congratulate Nils on his win as well as the other finalists in what was a top-flight evening of music.”

Limerick Jazz Society is the longest continually active jazz society in Ireland and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012 with the first Limerick Jazz Festival. Its regular spring and autumn seasons feature performances by leading international and Irish performers. Since 2007 it has also provided jazz education programs through Limerick Jazz Workshop, the only regular jazz workshop in Ireland outside Dublin. Limerick Jazz Society is a registered charity and is supported by the Arts Council and Limerick City and County Council.

Improvised Music Company (IMC) is an Arts Council funded resource organisation for Irish and Irish-based jazz musicians, and a specialist promoter of jazz, improvised and ethnic music in Ireland.

For more information on Limerick jazz, go HERE 

For more music stories, go HERE 

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.

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