Ailís Ní Ríain is an Irish composer and writer who aims to produce work that challenges, provokes and engages. In 2016 she was awarded the Paul Hamlyn Award for Composers.

Her work has been performed across Europe, in Israel, Brazil, USA and on BBC and RTÉ radio.

She was elected to the Ivors Academy Classical Committee in 2020 and is represented by The Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland. 

Ailís has broad artistic interests. She composes concert music, site­-specific music installations, opera, music­-theatre and has collaborated with writers, dancers, visual artists, filmmakers, poets and theatre artists.

Site-specific projects include music installations for a lighthouse, a K6 telephone box, a dis-used former cotton mill, the Brontë’s family home, a castle keep, a railway station accumulator tower and a high-street shop unit.

Ailís originally trained as a pianist and in recent years has dedicated considerable time to developing work for ‘altered piano’.  A Debut Disc of her music is scheduled to be released by NMC Recordings in 2022.

Ailís is deaf/hearing impaired and has been making work referencing disability since 2007.  She is an advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion and sits on the Ivors Academy EDI steering group and is a Disability Arts Online board member.

She has been awarded several international fellowships, associate artist positions and residences at Yaddo, USA, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, The Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, the Ragdale Foundation, ArtOMI in New York and Bogliasco in Italy.

Ailis is/has been an artistic assessor for the PRS Foundation, the Irish Arts Council, Sound and Music, Arts & Disability Ireland, Arts Council England and Culture Ireland.

Awards & Prizes

The PRS for Music Foundation Open Fund

The Arts Council of Ireland Commissions Award
Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust
Hinrichsen Foundation Award

National Endowment for the Arts [USA] Yaddo Residency Fellowship
PRS for Music Foundation Women Make Music Award
The Arts Council of Ireland Music Bursary Award
Unlimited/Shape Arts/ArtsAdmin Commission

Shortlisted ISCM World New Music Days Tallin
Culture Ireland Grant
Arts Council England Project Grant
Finalist Annelie de Man Prix

Shortlisted ISCM World New Music Days Beijing
Travel & Training award Arts Council Ireland

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers
Spitalfields Music Festival Project Award
Travel & Training Award from The Irish Arts Council
Irish Arts Council Commissions Award

Britten Pears Foundation Bursary
Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award
PRS Foundation for Music Award

Culture Ireland Travel Award
Travel & Training Award, Irish Arts Council
Sound & Music Composer­ Curator Award
Unlimited R & D Bursary
ACE/British Council International Artist Development Award
PRS Foundation for New Music Award

Finzi Trust Travel & Research Scholarship

Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award

Abandon Normal Devices/DaDaFest Research Award

Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award

Music Bursary from The Irish Arts Council
RVW Trust Grant Award

Vienna Modern Masters Nancy Van De Vate Prize for Opera
First Prize ISCM World Music Days Short Cuts competition

First prize SPNM/Brass in Association competition

First prize, RTÉ Composer of the Future competition



Yaddo Artist Colony, Saratoga Springs, USA
Ragdale Foundation Residency, Illinois, USA


MAKE Residency, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Virginia, USA


Fellowship – Omi International Arts Center, New York
Residency at Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, France


Associate Artist Residency ACA, Florida


Residency at METALCulture, Southend on Sea, UK
Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, Italy


Aldeburgh Artist Residency, Aldeburgh Productions, UK


Interact Roskilde, Denmark


THREAD Residency, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland

At ArtsOmi, New York State

Ragdale Foundation, USA, 2019

Mostar, Bosnia, 2017

Mostar, Bosnia, 2017