Three Artistic Bursary winners announced on final weekend of Wexford Festival Opera

Wexford Festival Opera, thanks to the generosity of three donors, awarded artistic bursaries to Irish violinist and conductor Cillian O'Breacháin (The Liam Healy Bursary), Polish baritone Simon Mechlinski (The Gerard Arnhold Award) and Venezuelan baritone, Gustavo Castillo (The Aria Friends’ Bursary) on the final weekend of the Festival.

At just 26 years of age, Dubliner Cillian O'Breacháin is both a violinist and conductor. He is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the Royal Irish Academy of Music with a degree in Music Education and has just completed his Masters in Music Performance in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Cillian has a busy orchestral performing career and has worked with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Ireland and the RTE Concert Orchestra. He regularly performs with Fishamble Sinfonia, an orchestra dedicated to the performance of 18th Century works, which he co-founded in 2013. As a conductor, Cillian has worked with many various youth and amateur orchestras around Ireland. He will continue in his role as Conductor of the Orchestra of the Irish National Youth Ballet with performances in spring 2019. 2018 marks Cillian’s inaugural year as a member of the Wexford Festival Orchestra.

The Liam Healy Bursary, was founded by Eithne Healy in special memory of her late husband Liam Healy, the former chairman of the Wexford Festival Foundation. This bursary is intended to nurture the development of the performing careers young Irish artists. 

Two other artistic bursary awards were announced this weekend. The Gerard Arnhold Award, generously donated by Anthony Arnhold, in memory of his father, Gerard Arnhold, who was a long-time patron and supporter of Wexford Festival Opera was awarded to the Polish Baritone, Simon Mechlinski, who made his debut in Wexford this year singing the role of Luigi in Il bravo by Mercadante and as Dr Malatesta in Don Pasquale by Donizetti, but also found the time to perform in a lunchtime recital.

“The lunchtime recital at St. Iberius’s church was given by the Polish baritone, Simon Mechlinski, who wowed the audience. At only 23, Mechlinski showed ability well beyond his years, and looks set for hugely successful career.”  - Operawire

The third award, The Aria Friends’ Bursary, which is voted upon by the Aria Friends of Wexford Festival Opera, went to the Venezuelan baritone, Gustavo Castillo, who sang the role of Foscari in Mercadante’s Il bravo, and who also performed in a lunchtime recital.  Gustavo, who also made his debut in Wexford this year, is member of the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala in Milan since 2016.

The 67th Wexford Festival Opera is supported by grants from the Arts Council, Wexford County Council and Fáilte Ireland/Ireland’s Ancient East.