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Inaugural Young Irish Jazz Musician 2020

The inaugural Young Irish Jazz Musician event, presented by Limerick Jazz in association with Improvised Music Company will provide a platform for the best of emerging young jazz talent (aged 13-18) on the island of Ireland, giving outstanding young jazz musicians the chance to be heard by leading Irish jazz musicians and broadcasters. Finalists in the competition will play with and be mentored by a rhythm section of professional musicians. This is the first of what is planned to be a regular event to give a platform to the best of emerging Irish jazz talent. The Young Irish Jazz Musician 2020 will get to make a professional studio recording, participate in UCH’s Rising Stars Concert, and receive a bursary to take part in an international summer school.

Young Irish Jazz Musician 2020 is organized by Limerick Jazz. Limerick Jazz has been promoting performances by leading Irish and international jazz artists since the 1980s and has been consistently active in jazz education since 2003. In 2019 we succeeded in obtaining charitable status. For the Young Irish Jazz Musician award, Limerick Jazz is partnering with the 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 world music in Ireland.

Kenneth Killeen, Director, Improvised Music Company said: “IMC are thrilled to be developing this Young Musician of the Year award with Limerick Jazz and Limerick Jazz Festival. Providing a platform to spotlight and acknowledge formative jazz talent is crucial for the long term development and sustainability of this music, and will provide a fantastic opportunity for the inaugural winner in 2020.”

John Daly of Limerick Jazz added: “Limerick Jazz are both thrilled and excited to be launching this is great initiative for our up and coming generation of jazz musicians and delighted to have IMC as a valued partner in making this event an integral part of the festival and its legacy for many years in to the future".

All applications need to be sent to Limerick Jazz Festival via their website, email or by post.

Full details are available here.
Terms and conditions are available here.
Application form is available here.


There are two stages in Young Irish Jazz Musician 2020, Round 1 and the Final. If you decide to enter you will need to send a video of yourself performing (see below). Your video will be judged by a panel of experts, who will view every entry and score the performances. The highest scoring people will go through to the Final (up to a maximum of 5 people).

The judges will write feedback notes for everyone and you can request those afterwards. We know this feedback is important to lots of our musicians – it can be very productive to get the opinion of someone new on your playing.

If you are chosen for the Final, you’ll have the opportunity to be mentored by and play with our house band of experienced professional musicians. You’ll have a couple of days to rehearse with the band and then the Final happens as part of the Limerick Jazz Festival at University Concert Hall, Limerick. At the Final you will be playing in front of an audience and a new panel of judges. The highest scoring person will become Young Irish Jazz Musician 2020 and will receive:

  • a specially designed souvenir of the event
  • an opportunity to create an EP length recording with the house band
  • Participation in University Concert Hall, Limerick’s Rising Star Concert in 2021
  • a bursary to attend an international jazz summer school in 2021

The value of these awards is over €2,000.


The closing date for entries is Saturday September 5th, 2020. You will be told if you have qualified for the Final or not by Monday, September 14th. If you accept our invitation to take part in the Final, please be ready to tell us what music you want to perform.

The final will be held on the evening of Saturday September 26th, 2020. There will be an opportunity for each finalist to rehearse the house band and use practice facilities during the day on September 26th and Friday 25th.

What Do I Do?

To enter Young Irish Jazz Musician 2020, you need to send in a video of yourself playing / singing, plus your entry form, a photo, and proof of your age – a photo or scan of your passport / birth certificate / driving licence. Please don’t send original documents.

You should use the information in this document to help you to fill out the form, and read the rules, terms, and conditions before completing it.

What Can You Play?

  • You can play any instrument you like, or you can sing.
  • You can choose any music to play, any style of jazz that you like, but we recommend that you show some contrast of tempo / feel etc. Later on in the competition we will need to make sure that we can clear your music for broadcast, but we will talk to you about that if and when you go through.
  • At the Final, one of your numbers must be either your own composition, or your arrangement of a standard.
  • Let us know what you’re playing on your video, either by filling in that section as you enter online, or on the form.
  • You can play or sing solo, or with a band, or in any combination, as long as your performance is showcased, and we can assess it.
  • Most importantly: there must be a substantial element of improvisation in your performance and this applies to singers as well as instrumentalists. Improvisation is one of the judging criteria so if you don’t improvise you are very unlikely to go through to the next round.

Please see Limerick Jazz Festival for full details about how to enter, video requirements and other useful information.

Details of Limerick Jazz Festival's re-imagined programme for 2020 are now available on their website

You can follow Limerick Jazz Festival on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to keep up to date.

Follow Improvised Music Company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or sign up to our newsletter for further updates on our activities and partnerships.

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