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Meet the 2024 Finalists

Northern Irish soprano Zoë Jackson studied at The University of Manchester, performing the eponymous roles in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Holst’s Sāvitri, and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. Zoë was a member of the Northern Ireland Opera Studio 2019/20 and performed the role of Vivien Savory in the Northern Irish premier of Victor Herbert’s The Enchantress. She recently performed Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen with Rose Opera at Leighton House and will be returning for their ‘Celebration of Ukrainian Song’ and ‘Great Opera Composers in Song’ recitals this Autumn. In July she will be making her role debut as  Pamina in Die Zauberlöte with the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar.

Zoë participated in the inaugural Virtuoso and Belcanto Festival Opera Project, performing the role of Novizia in Suor Angelica at the Teatro del Giglio and Teatro Alighieri. Her chorus work includes Handel’s Theodora with Sestina and the Irish Baroque Orchestra and Die Fledermaus with Northern Ireland Opera.

Zoë Jackson

Hannah McKay is a young soprano from Carrickfergus, NI. She recently completed her vocal masters at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, under the tutelage of Janice Chapman. She is very much looking forward to starting the Opera Course at Guildhall in September. 

Earlier this year, Hannah was a finalist in the Irish Heritage Bursary Competition, making her performance debut at Wigmore Hall. In February, Hannah performed the UK premiere of Jessie Montgomery’s Lunar Songs for a BBC Radio 3 Concert. Other recent concert work includes Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, and Vaughan William’s Sea Symphony. While she was a student at Durham University, she performed Mozart’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elijah in the Cathedral. Hannah was a member of the Samling Academy 2019-22. 

 This season, Hannah is covering the role of Suor Angelica for West Green House Opera. She has performed the roles of Suzel (L’amico Fritz), Ellen (Peter Grimes), Vitellia (La Clemenza di Tito) and Adina (L’elisir d’amore) in various opera scenes at GSMD. 

 She is proud to be the 2024 Boise Scholar, the Behrens Foundation Scholar and the Sidney Perry Foundation scholar, as well as being supported by a private donor.

Hannah McKay

Peter Thomas O’Reilly, is a Cork-based Irish tenor. He graduated with a MA in Music Performance and  Bachelor of Music from MTU Cork School of Music, where he studied under the tutelage of voice lecturer Mary MacSweeney, and pianist and répétiteur, Gary Beecher. Peter is currently continuing his training with renowned voice teacher, Paul Farrington. 

A multi-award winner at the Feis Maitiú, he has demonstrated his versatility in style, winning categories spanning early music, operetta, and Irish song. Peter was most recently a finalist at the Charles Wood Song Competition 2024, and finalist at the Feis Ceoil Dramatic Cup 2024. 

Praised for his charismatic stage presence, Peter has  performed vocal scenes from the following operatic roles: Sesto (Giulio Cesare),  Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Count Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia),  Nemorino  (L’elisir d’amore), Alfredo (La Traviata), Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto),  Le Remendado (Carmen), Gérald (Lakmé). 

Peter is also a sought-after oratorio soloist, appearing as the Evangelist and tenor soloist in J.S. Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium with the East Cork Choral Society and the East Cork Orchestra. He also performed as the tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah, the tenor soloist in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music and Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore. 

In 2023, Peter made his London recital debut as part of the Pimlico Concert Series. In August 2024, he was selected to join the Oxenfoord international summer school’s advanced opera scenes programme. 

Peter Thomas O’Reilly

Seamus Brady is a Baritone from Co. Down, Ireland & is a MMus Year 1 student. Seamus is an alumnus of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin where he completed his BMus Performance (Vocal Studies). Seamus has performed as a soloist and within choruses, both in operatic and choral settings.

Seamus performed his role debut as cover of ‘Baron Douphol’ in Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’ with Northern Ireland Opera in Grand Opera House, Belfast 2022. Seamus is a proud member of Northern Ireland Opera’s Chorus Development Programme 24/25.

Seamus Brady

John Johnston is a baritone born in Belfast and based in Oxford. He started singing as a chorister in St. Peter’s Cathedral Schola Cantorum, and later the chapel choir of Winchester College. He recently graduated from the University of Oxford with a first-class degree in Music, where he was an Academical Clerk in the New College Choir, and was taught by Bronwen Mills. During his time at Oxford John has enjoyed working on numerous vocal projects with New Chamber Opera, Schola Cantorum, and the Oxford Opera Society; highlights of which include the roles of Figaro in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, and Paris in John Weldon’s The Judgement of Paris.Recent masterclass opportunities have included Joyce di Donato and Jonathon Cole-Swinard. In the last year John has held a lay clerkship with the Choir of New College, a graduate scholarship with Ex Cathedra, and now learns with Giles Underwood.

John Johnston

Orlaith Sharkey, who hails from Donegal, is currently pursuing a Master’s in Music degree at the MTU Cork School of Music, studying under Ciara Moroney. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance (honours) from TU Dublin Conservatoire, where she studied with Danusia Oslizlok. Following her degree, she studied on the Professional Mentorship course at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) with Conor Linehan, Dearbhla Brosnan and visiting professor Iain Burnside.

Orlaith enjoys a varied career as a collaborative pianist and choral accompanist, regularly performing in venues all over Dublin. In August 2023, Orlaith was selected to be the piano intern for the Charles Wood Festival of Voice, working alongside vocal coach Paul Farrington. In 2024, Orlaith won the Larchet Memorial Cup for piano accompaniment at sight. In 2020, she won first prize in the Tomás Ó Súilleabháin Award for piano accompaniment.

Orlaith also enjoys working as a ballet accompanist for the Nadia Quick School of Dance.

Orlaith will be the Peter Rankin Piano Intern for the 2024 Glenarm Festival of Voice

Find out more and book your tickets here

Orlaith Sharkey