Fergus Sheil

Fergus is one of Ireland’s leading conductors. From Dublin, he graduated in music from Trinity College Dublin and undertook private conducting studies with Leon Barzin in Paris. He is Artistic Director of Opera Theatre Company, Ireland’s national touring opera company. He is also Artistic Director of Wide Open Opera and Wide Open Music, both of which he founded in 2012.

Fergus has undertaken engagements with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of the National Concert Hall, the Northern Sinfonia (UK), the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and many others. In opera he has worked for Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Opera Ireland, Opera Theatre Company, Lyric Opera Productions, NI Opera and others. He has also appeared with numerous choirs including the State Choir Latvija, and the BBC Singers, with whom he has toured Ireland.

With Wide Open Music he has toured the RTÉ Orchestras around Ireland, including several major projects in Navan and Drogheda. He has produced major children’s choral works such as Rain Falling Up (2012) and Bluebottle (2014). His opera productions have included major productions at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Gaiety Theatre, Cork Opera House and other venues throughout Ireland.

Fergus’ work in Opera and Music has been acknowledged by several major awards. In 2011 his community opera Shelter Me From the Rain which he produced for Carlow Co Council won the Allianz Business to Arts “Best Use of Creativity in the Community” award. His 2015 production of the opera The Last Hotel by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh was awarded “Best opera production” at the Irish Times Theatre Awards. The television version of the same opera, made in collaboration with Sky Arts, was awarded “Best Large Sponsorship” at the 2016 Allianz Business to Arts Awards.”

Fergus’ career has taken him many places internationally. His opera productions have appeared in Edinburgh, London, Luxembourg and New York. As a conductor he has undertaken engagements in the USA, Canada, Southa Africa, Australia, UK, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Malta and Estonia

Especially committed to youth music, as well as helping found the JYO, he is conductor of the Dublin Youth Orchestra and has worked for the Australian Youth Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, and Welsh National Youth Opera.



Ailbhe Kirkan (Junior Orchestra)

In 2016 Ailbhe took part in a conducting course with Robert Houlihan in the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

She studied violin in the Royal Northern College of Music as well as Bilkent University, Ankara. In 2013 she obtained a Masters diploma in Performance from the Conservatory of Music and Drama, DIT. Ailbhe works as a freelance violinist with the RTE Symphony Orchestra, the RTE Concert Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. She also performs with the Wexford Festival Opera Orchestra, Wide Open Opera, Lyric Productions and the National Concert Hall Orchestra.

Ailbhe is passionate about teaching. She teaches violin, viola as well as chamber music.

She also conducts small school orchestras, group tuition and string projects for young people and adults.