Van Dessel Award for DkIT Student Jessica06 December 2023
Final year student on the BA (Hons) Music, Jessica Muldrew from Bessbrook in Newry, Co. Down, is the recipient of the prestigious Michael Van Dessel Choral Conducting Scholar award for 2023-2024 at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT).
Jessica attended Newry High School before pursuing her degree at DkIT. Despite engaging remotely in the early stages due to COVID-19, Jessica discovered a strong community in her classmates. With the lifting of restrictions, coming together on campus was a cause for celebration and the DkIT choir became an important social as well as learning environment.
Jessica hopes to pursue a career as a songwriter and performer after graduation. She plays piano, mandolin and bass in addition to specialising on guitar, for which she is receiving tuition from another former DkIT music graduate, Oscar Montague. Jessica has also excelled as a singer and has featured as lead vocalist with the Institute’s traditional music group in recent performances.
On receiving the award, Jessica said:
“I am delighted to have been appointed the Michael Van Dessel Choral Conducting Scholar for this year. Throughout my four years in DkIT, I have enjoyed being the conductor in class ensembles, I have helped rehearse the choir lines in the soprano section and I have obtained further conducting skills in the conducting and arranging module of last year. Therefore, I am looking forward to working with my lecturers and the choir to showcase and further develop my conducting.”
As part of the award Jessica will work closely with and receive mentorship from Annalisa Monticelli and Dr Georgina Hughes, directors of the DkIT Choir. Jessica has availed of many musical opportunities during her time at DkIT. She performs regularly at home in folk sessions and performances and recently joined the Oriel Traditional Orchestra, the cross-border community ensemble-in-residence at DkIT. Jessica is looking forward to travelling after she completes her undergraduate studies at DkIT and also has plans to do some music teaching.
The Michael Van Dessel Choral Scholar is awarded each year to a leading student on the BA (Hons) Music programme in recognition of their achievements. Michael Van Dessel (1899-1974) was organist and musical director at St Patrick's Church and St. Joseph's Redemptorist Church. He was noted by many as Dundalk's 'most distinguished musician' on account of his work as teacher, musical director, composer, conductor, and organist.
Dundalk Institute of Technology is proud of its contribution to the cultural life of the region and the musicians from the Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music regularly perform for and collaborate with the community. In presenting the award, Dr Adèle Commins, Head of Department, stated
“We are delighted to make this award in honour of Michael Van Dessel and continue his legacy of choral music making in our Department.”