The Concerto Prize

The St Columb’s Hall Concerto Award is a special prize created by Le Foyer des Artistes, in partnership with the St Columb’s Hall Trust, to establish a significant annual classical music bursary in Ireland, together with a concerto engagement, in celebration of St Columba’s Day on 9 June.

Three soloists have been selected from 12 by the jury and they will perform in the Concerto Award Finalists’ Recital on 4th February 2023 for the opportunity to perform a concerto with Le Foyer des Artistes on 9 June 2023.

The Finalists are:

  • Henry Cash, 22 from England
  • Yuxuan Zhao, 20 from China
  • Justine Gormley, 24 from Northern Ireland

The winner will scoop the top prize of £2,000, and the public will be invited to award a special Audience Prize of £1,000 sponsored by ChallengeCurve.

St Columb’s Hall Concerto Awards (1st, 2nd and 3rd)  £4,000
ChallengeCurve Audience Prize £1,000

We are delighted to announce that YAMAHA International has become an Associate Partner
of Le Foyer des Artistes. Their brand new CFX Concert Grand Piano has just been released and has
been endorsed by the London Symphony Orchestra as well as some of the greatest pianists in the
world. YAMAHA will ship the piano from London to St Columb’s Hall for this very special event.

The winner of the St Columb’s Hall Concerto Award will return to Derry on the feast day of St Columba,
9 June 2023, to play Mozart’s piano concerto 9 in Eb major KVW271 Jeunnehomme, a work so sublime
it has often been described as ‘one of the greatest wonders of the world’.
St Columba – Founder of Derry, the oak grove – has a cultural legacy of over 1500 years. The Book of
Kells, an ancient manuscript produced by Columban monks and visited by people from all over the
world each and every day, is a modern example of this incredible legacy.
Like Columba, these three musicians will travel the world with their talent and inspire patrons as well
as new generations of young people. For this reason, we celebrate the continuation of Columba’s
legacy with an incredible evening of music in our home at St Columb’s Hall.

- Picture David Creedon / Anzenberger
Associate Pianist

Gary Beecher

The Jury

We are proud to announce the panel of distinguished musicians who will preside over the first-ever St Columb’s Hall Concerto Award. They need no introduction, and their combined expertise will ensure that this major bursary and professional engagement opportunity will be awarded to a consummate young musician ready for the challenge of an international music career in the 21st century.

Keep up to date with news and events 


Coming Soon

For a reminder please enter your email address here:


Coming Soon

For a reminder please enter your email address here:


Coming Soon

For a reminder please enter your email address here:


- Picture David Creedon / Anzenberger
Associate Pianist
Gary Beecher

We are pleased to announce Gary Beecher as Associate Artist with Le Foyer des Artistes and as official pianist for The Concerto Competition, Finalists’ Recital. One of Ireland’s most accomplished young pianists, Gary Beecher is from Cork and leads an extremely varied career as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist.

He has performed as concert soloist with RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra. He has also appeared as soloist at the National Concert Hall and RDS in Dublin, University Concert Hall, Limerick, Barbican Centre and Wigmore Hall in London.

In 2019, Gary had a string of success at international competitions, winning the Nadia and Lili Boulanger International Voice-Piano Competition in Paris and the Rudolf Jansen Pianist Prize at the 53rd International Vocal Competition Lied Duo in ‘S-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. In the same year he also won 2nd Pianist Prize at the prestigious International Helmut Deutsch Lied Competition in Vienna.

Gary was also a Fellow and staff accompanist at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where he completed his Master Degree, mentored by Julius Drake and Charles Owen. He is an alumnus of Cork School of Music, where he studied with Susana and Jan Čáp, Michael McHale and Gabriela Mayer. He is also a former pupil of Jacques Rouvier, Universität der Künste, Berlin, and John O’Conor, Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM).

In addition to his concert career, Gary teaches piano at the RIAM, and is coach and accompanist at both the Cork School of Music and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.

Jury Chair
Michael McHale

Belfast-born Michael McHale has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading pianists and has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. 

He has performed as a soloist with the Minnesota, Hallé, Moscow Symphony and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players and all five of the major Irish orchestras, and performed at the Tanglewood and Tokyo Spring Festivals, Wigmore Hall, London, Berlin Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center, New York, Symphony Hall, Boston and Pesti Vigadó in Budapest. 

Michael’s début solo album The Irish Piano was released in 2012 by RTÉ lyric fm and selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by the critic Norman Lebrecht. More recent solo releases include Schubert: Four Impromptus on Ergodos, Miniatures and Modulations on Grand Piano, and a first orchestral album Irish Piano Concertos featuring works by John Field and Philip Hammond with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Courtney Lewis. His discography of over twenty albums includes releases on Delos, Nimbus Alliance, Champs Hill, and seven duo recital albums on Chandos with Michael Collins. The début album of the McGill/McHale Trio Portraits on Cedille featuring special narrations by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali was released in 2017 and immediately entered the Top 25 US Billboard Classical Chart. Upcoming releases include a recording of Strauss’s ‘Burleske’ with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Chandos, and a recording of two new works by Cliff Eidelman with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Winner of the Terence Judd/Hallé Award in 2009, Michael was also awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition, the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award, and in 2016 a Major Individual Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, and his teachers and mentors include John O’Conor, Réamonn Keary, Christopher Elton, Ronan O’Hora and Barry Douglas. In 2017 Michael was invited to become a Patron of the Ulster Youth Orchestra, and in 2018 he was appointed as a part-time professor of piano for undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Cork School of Music in Ireland.

Michael collaborates regularly with Sir James Galway, Michael Collins, Patricia Rozario, Dame Felicity Lott and Camerata Pacifica.

“…McHale played with cool authority and understated panache as one expected from a young pianist whose international career is in serious take-off mode…” Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post

“…performed with zest and sensitivity by pianist Michael McHale with the RTÉ National Symphony under Courtney Lewis… McHale makes a potent case for all of it” Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“…McHale was a wonderfully incisive soloist… this was exactly the sort of headlong, exciting adventure that Prokofiev intended it to be…” Michael Dervan, Irish Times