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Queen’s composer’s prestigious award is music to the ears

Queen’s composer Professor Piers Hellawell has been awarded a Major Individual Award (MIA), the highest honour bestowed by the Arts Council.

The awards, worth £15,000, are given in recognition of the contribution artists have made to creative life in Northern Ireland, and enable them to take time out to dedicate to their creative work and to produce a substantial, ambitious project that will make a significant contribution to the development of their artistic careers. 

Professor Hellawell will undertake a comprehensive digital recording of his works over the last eight years, including, as the centre-piece, his BBC Proms 2016 commission for the Ulster Orchestra. The second element of the project will enable collaboration – with Friction Quartet in San Francisco, the leading string quartet in America for contemporary music – on an experimental work, and will allow the composer to complete his third quartet, a work being created specifically for the ensemble.

Professor Hellawell said:

"The Arts Council's Major Individual Awards show the kind of flexibility that public funding rarely affords artists nowadays; they encourage established artists to make a case for whatever their practice needs. This award allows me to record my major outputs from the last decade, with the world-class artists for whom I created that music in the first place, in partnership with Queen's excellent facilities."

Professor Hellawell joins a distinguished list of artists who have previously benefited from the Major Individual Awards including celebrated composers Ian Wilson, Elaine Agnew, Conor Mitchell, Deirdre McKay, and acclaimed musicians including pianist, Michael McHale, jazz drummer, David Lyttle and choreographer, Oona Doherty.