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On Sunday 15th November, Kilkenny C.B.S. Leaving Cert student and musical prodigy, Patrick Rafter auditioned for leader of the ‘National Youth Orchestra of Ireland’ under 24s.

This prestigious orchestra is internationally renowned, and considered Ireland’s leading youth orchestra.

Auditioning against people of a far greater age, Patrick was selected , thus becoming the youngest ever leader of this orchestra on its 40th Anniversary, aged just 18. The orchestra itself has played with many great soloists, from Evelyn Glennie to Nicola Benedetti and has been led by famed conductors such as Christoph Margean and Diego Masson.

Patrick began his rise to recognition with the Junior under 18’s Orchestra back in 2007, becoming its leader after his first audition. He continued to lead the Junior Orchestra from 2007 to 2009, holding the coveted ‘Olive Smith’ chair.

Born into a musical family, Patrick’s parents introduced him to the world of Music. His mother Maura is a pianist and teacher of national recognition, and his father Paddy is an operatic tenor who has studied with Carlo Bergonzi and Carlo Baija in Milan for the past five years. With Patrick on violin, sister Isabelle on cello, Maura on piano and Paddy on vocals, they founded the Rafter Family.

This group made their official debut in the National Concert Hall on the 28th of September this year . This was to be a resounding success, a full house and rave reviews. This was followed by a sell-out concert in Kilkenny’s Watergate Theatre where this talented family of Musical prowess received rapturous standing ovations. The Rafters have performed all across Ireland in recent times.

Patrick started violin lessons with Fiona Warren in the Kilkenny School of Music. At the age of 12, he won a bursary to study with Eyal Kless.

Following a masterclass in Italy, Patrick continued his studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, winning an entrance scholarship.

Patrick was offered a scholarship to the Internationally acclaimed Chethams School of Music in Manchester, which he turned down however, preferring to remain in Ireland and develop his talent under the tutelage of Fionnuala Hunt.

During the past year Patrick’s development has been a meteoric success. Early in the year Patrick was selected as the National Concert Hall Young Musician of the Year 2009. Subsequently in March, Patrick completed an unprecedented hat trick of achievements, winning all three Senior Under 24 categories in the Feis Ceoil.

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