2007 - Sean Morgen-Rooney

Sean Rooney, a 13-year-old pianist, is the 2007 Northern Ireland’s Young Musician of the Year.Sean, from Mayobridge goes to Abbey Grammar School in Newry. 

He played “Romance” by the Finnish composer Sibelius, and won the title because, in the words of adjudicator Simon Taylor, “He gave the most complete and engrossing performance of the competition. He showed he had really thought it through from beginning to glorious end”. 

Sean received an engraved Tyrone Crystal bowl and £250 in vouchers from Matchetts Music, sponsors of the event. 
Runner-up was 14-year-old Malachy Frame on trumpet. His interpretation of a Concert Etude by Russian composer Goedicke was “technically complete and fluent, and showed clear confidence and enjoyment of the music”. Malachy is a student of Methodist College.

In third place was 16-year-old guitarist Eoin Gribben, from Randalstown, a student from St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt. His chosen piece was Akäskero by Austrian composer Thomas Leeb. Fourth was 16-year-old Scott Lowry on violin from Belfast, who chose a virtuoso violin piece by Pugnani, adapted by Kreisler. Scott goes to Grosvenor Grammar School. Simon Taylor’s choices in the ‘highly commended’ category were: Declan McErlane, guitar, from Magherafelt; Aaron Leung, piano, from Belfast; and Jonathon Lamberton on bagpipes, from Mallusk.

Simon Taylor congratulated all 16 finalists on getting to the final and creating a wonderful evening of music-making. He thanked the Rotary Club of Comber for organising “This important event in the musical calendar”.

Sean Morgan-Rooney from Mayobridge was only 13 when he won the competition in 2007 and was continuing his schooling in sixth year at Abbey Christian Brothers in Newry.  He studied music then under the director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, internationally-renowned concert pianist John O’Conor and Dr Peter Tuite. Since winning the competition, Seán has continued to pursue a path in music performance. While at school, Seán studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music under John O'Conor. He recently graduated with a First from the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied under Professor Christopher Elton.  During his time there he was the winner of the Else Cross Prize for contemporary music and the Vivian Langrish award for obtaining the highest piano mark in his year. Following the 2007 competition, Seán was a piano finalist in the BBC Young of the Year Competition. He has concertized in various venues across the UK and abroad. He has appeared as concerto soloist with the Hibernia Orchestra in Dublin, the Torun Symphony Orchestra in Poland and the Hornton Chamber Orchestra in London. In 2015 he gave a recital at the World Piano Conference in Serbia. In the same year he was the winner of the Charles J. Brennan Prize at the Dublin International Piano Competition. As a result, he is engaged to perform with the RTE Concert Orchestra, to record his first CD under the RTE Lyric FM label and to give a solo recital at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Most recently, Seán was made a permanent member of the Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble, a contemporary music ensemble based in Belfast. Seán is currently continuing his piano studies with David Kuijken at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.

“ Winning the competition was hugely encouraging and I feel it really spurred me on to continue with pursuing a life in music. For that, to the competition I am very grateful."