Derry pianist Cathal Breslin has just been crowned one of the top classical musicians in the world.
Cathal, who hails from the Culmore Road, beat 130 pianists from 29 different nations to scoop third prize in the Viotti International Piano Competition in Milan, Italy, one of the largest, oldest and most prestigious international music competitions.
The only Irish person in the competition, he wowed an audience which included many European dignatories with his concerto performance of Beethoven's Fourth Concerto alongside the Turin Philharmonic Orchestra.
He walked away with a generous cash prize as well as concerts across Europe in 2008, including another high-profile appearance with the Turin Philharmonic in Italy.
Cathal told the Journal yesterday: "I'm delighted to have got so far in what is a worldwide competition, up against really tough opponents. I was proud to represent Derry and Ireland on the worldwide stage.
"It does take a lot of hard work and dedication to your art to get where you want to be in life and I think I'm really getting there. I suppose I've come a long way from my Saturday morning piano lessons with Rachel McGinley on the Northland Road when I was nine years old!”
Since graduating with the highest distinction at both the Royal College of Music in London and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester a few years ago, Cathal was based in Madrid in Spain for two years and is now based in Ann Arbor in Michigan, USA.
Latest news is that he’s now planning a return to Ireland and will probably be based in Dublin with trips back to Derry - and Sandinos - at weekends.
He said: "I've a busy year ahead of me at the moment what with my upcoming concerts across Europe and more competitions all over the world, but I'm looking forward to coming back home to Ireland and putting down roots."
Cathal was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, supported by Diageo Ireland, to pursue his musical studies at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He was also chosen as a Bank of Ireland Millenium Scholar. ded him as a student in the USA.
He is now completing his Doctoral Degree and is the Teaching Assistant at the University of Michigan School of Music.
His music takes him all over the world and he is in great demand as a performer not only in Europe, but in the US and as far away as Hong Kong. He has recently performed concerts in Spain, Greece, Dublin, Hong Kong, Japan, New York, Florida, Texas, California, Iowa, Michegan and Ohio.
Cathal is the son of Willie and Gloria Breslin from Troy Park, Culmore Road. He has one brother Aidan, and two sisters Carla and Leona.