Ailís Ní Ríain is an Irish contemporary classical composer and published writer for stage who aims to produce work that challenges, provokes and engages. A regular collaborator with artists in other art-forms, her artistic interests are diverse and combined with an unwavering desire to push and develop her artistic practice through each new project or commission.  In 2016 she was awarded the Paul Hamlyn Award for Composers.

Ailís Ní Ríain was born in Cork, in the Republic of Ireland. She studied classical piano at The Cork School of Music with Bridget Doolan and took an undergraduate music degree at University College Cork followed by studies at The University of York, Manchester University and The Royal Northern College of Music.

In 2016 she was awarded a Paul Hamlyn Composer’s Award – the largest individual artist award in the UK. In 2018 she was shortlisted to represent Ireland at ISCM World Music Days in 2017 and 2018 and for the 2018 Annelie de Man Prix in the Netherlands. She is represented by The Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland.

Ailís composes concert music, site­-specific music installations, opera, music­-theatre and often collaborates with artists working in other forms such as visual art, text, photography and illustration. There have been performances of her work at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s Southbank, The National Concert Hall of Ireland and Carnegie Hall, New York, throughout Europe and on BBC Radio and RTE Radio.

Ailís’ early studies focused on performance as a pianist. It was as a post-graduate that she began to focus on composition. Formative musical experiences included international workshops, courses and residencies with Louis Andriessen, Michael Finnissy, Salvatore Sciarrino, Luca Francesconi, Klaus Huber and Toshio Hosokawa.

Awards & Prizes

PRS for Music Foundation Women Make Music Award
Hinrichsen Foundation 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 Atlantic Center for the Arts, 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