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The Ad Astra Performing Arts Scholarship Membership has grown in number from 6 to 20 scholars. The group currently comprises of eight actors and twelve musicians. To have a better look at what is involved in the scholarships, then make sure to check out our behind the scenes videos of our (opens in a new window)Drama and (opens in a new window)Music Programmes.

Ad Astra musicians and vocalists have performed as the Ad Astra Ensemble in numerous places abroad and in Ireland including: (opens in a new window)Newman University Church, the National Concert Hall, Christchurch Cathedral,(opens in a new window) Hugh Lane Galler(opens in a new window)y, the National Gallery, Strasbourg and the Irish Ambassadors Residence in Ottawa, Canada as part of their 2017 St Patrick's day celebrations.

In March 2019, the music scholars travelled to Strasbourg with the UCD Symphony Orchestra to take part in concerts organised by the Orchestre Universitaire de Strasbourg. The trip culminated in an ensemble of almost 150 student musicians performing Prokofiev’s Knight’s March from the ballet Romeo & Juliet in the Église Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune, which was conducted by the UCD Symphony Orchestra’s Artistic Director, Ciarán Crilly. They also performed a chamber music recital at the Church of St Guillaume. 

Several of the Ad Astra music scholars have performed with the UCD Symphony Orchestra and Bootleg Beatles in Bord Gais Energy Theatre. The Performing Arts scholars have also collaborated as a group on performance pieces such as Yeats' At the Hawk's Well – a blend of dance, theatre, and musical performance.

The Ad Astra drama scholars have had many opportunities to perform. In 2017, they held a Pop-up Theatre Festival over three days. The festival took place in different locations across campus and included extracts of Constellations by Nick Payne, The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien and Nuclear War by Simon Stephens. In 2018, they held a Theatre Lab week, where members of the UCD community were invited along to participate in workshops, performances and talks, that included Designing with Light, What is Dramaturgy, Developing New Work and more. In 2020 during Covid-19 restrictions, they created Isolations,
which was a series of on-line short works created and performed by the Ad Astra Drama scholars in collaboration with Ad Astra Artistic Director Kellie Hughes

In 2019, both the music and drama scholars came together in a new performance developed by our Artistic and Theatre Director, Kellie Hughes called (opens in a new window)Voices of War in collaboration with Dr. Lucy Collins, from the UCD Poetry Archives and the National Gallery of Ireland to commemorate the end of the First World War. This was performed in the National Gallery and UCD James Joyce Library Hub. In addition, the drama scholars performed selected extracts from novelist and playwright, Professor Frank McGuinness’s celebrated play Carthaginians, in honour of when he was awarded the UCD Ulysses Medal in April 2019. This is the highest honour the University can bestow. This performance was directed by Kellie Hughes.

In 2021, the The Ad Astra Chamber Orchestra, led by Music Director Therese Timoney, performed Mozart's Divertimento and Handel’s Largo and Allegro in the UCD Astra Hall. This performance was organised in place of the end of year recital, was recorded and is available (opens in a new window)online. During the the year, our drama scholars had the opportunity to work with Fishamble, the New Play Theatre Company. This association assisted the development of the scholars creative writing skills through masterclasses with established Irish writers. It also provided professional dramaturgical support and gave the scholars access to the work of professional theatre artists. 

The Ad Astra Performing Arts Alumni continue to be seen on the stage and screen including, Caitriona Ennis (nominated four times for Best Actress in the Irish Times Theatre Awards), whose most recent work includes Mabel’s Magnificent Flying Machine, at the Gate Theatre; Ross Gaynor, who appeared in Bernard Dunne’s Mythical Heroes for RTÉ and Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirekto’ for the Irish National Opera and Sam McGovern, who appeared in RTE’s Striking Out. Alumni Ryan O’Donnell, received an Arts Council of Ireland Award to create a new performance with Luna Collective, founded with Ad Astra alumni Rachel O’Sullivan and Graham Butler Breen. This project is supported by the Ad Astra Performing Arts Alumni Mentorship Initiative. 

Scholarship Benefits

The Ad Astra Performing Arts scholars benefit from a scholarship, mentoring and a range of tailored supports. The value of the scholarship for new scholars entering the programme in September 2024 is a €3,000 bursary which can be used to offset the cost of fees or accommodation. If wishing to live on campus, Ad Astra scholars may avail of allocated on-campus accommodation.

In addition to this performing arts scholars receive:

  • the opportunity to work with experienced performance professionals in seminar and workshop settings
  • the opportunity to participate in modules specific to their artistic pursuits
  • access to expert training
  • access to the Ad Astra Academy Performing Arts Studio
  • the support of a dedicated academic mentor
  • opportunities to perform live
  • access to the Scholar's room

The scholarship is usually awarded for the first four years of study, subject to meeting the criteria for scholarship renewal each year.

To find out more about what is involved in being part of the scholarship programme, then have a look at our behind the scenes videos of our (opens in a new window)Drama and (opens in a new window)Music Programmes.

Watch our video "Innovation in the Arts at University College Dublin"

Watch our video "Innovation in the Arts at University College Dublin"

Watch our Performing Arts musical scholars perform an afternoon recital featuring our music scholars, in a varied and attractive programme of solo & chamber works by Bach, Handel, Brahms, Chopin, Grieg, Franck & Prokofiev in the Hugh Lane Gallery from 2017 by clicking (opens in a new window)here. The highlights are available (opens in a new window)here.

Contact UCD Ad Astra Academy

Student Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4.
T: +353 1 716 3105 | E: adastraacademy@ucd.ie