Student Experience

Eithne Nic an Ríogh

Medicine Stage 5

A typical day: Busy! I have to fit in music practise and sometimes performance, as well as my academic work, of course. Being an Ad Astra Performing Arts Scholar certainly requires dedication and it is important to be available to perform when invited to do so. However, it is very enjoyable and you get to meet other students with similar interests. From the very first day I felt that I belonged to the UCD community. By contributing to the community in this way I feel a sense of involvement which is very rewarding.

Performance experience: I play both cello and piano, and have won many national competitions for both instruments, including the Junior Piano Rose Bowl and the J J O’Reilly Concerto Cup in the Feis Ceoil. I have performed with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and with the Royal Irish Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra and travelled to places such as Japan, Dubai, U.S.A., Norway and England to perform. I’m now a member of the UCD Symphony Orchestra and as an Ad Astra Performing Arts Scholar I also perform at various college events such as the Foundation Day celebrations. The Ad Astra Scholars also have social events where we meet informally and get to know one another and the staff members who are involved with the Ad Astra programme.

Oisin Friel

Medicine Stage 5

Performance highlights:  As a violist, I've been fortunate enough to have performed in the United Arab Emirates with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland. I travelled to Switzerland and Norway with the chamber orchestra, and took part in a number of masterclasses. As a singer I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform in venues such as The White House in Washington DC, New York City's Metropolitan Opera House, and in our own National Concert Hall.

Ad Astra advantages: Music, like any skill, requires a huge amount of practice time if it is to be done properly. Fortunately, this year I have adequate time to practice both viola and singing while still retaining control over my academic work, and the Ad Astra Academy is to thank for that. Until recently, I wanted to study music performance on a professional level, but following completion of the HPAT exam I decided to study medicine. My intention is to develop my music to as high a standard as possible, and to maintain my performance skills as an amateur. Ad Astra allows me to do that, which I am very pleased about. The scholarship programme has given me the means to combine my academic expectations and my musical passions and it is something I would recommend to anyone with serious musical interest.