A Night of Irish Music from the Composer of Riverdance

By
Allen Bush
March 29, 2013
Bill Whelan

Bill Whelan, whose Irish roots are embedded in much of the music he’s created, will join Berklee students and faculty for a program that spotlights his award-winning career as a composer, arranger, producer, and musician. He is the composer, arranger, and lyricist of Riverdance, one of the world’s most successful theatrical productions. As a musician and producer, his work spans Irish traditional and folk music with the Dubliners, Planxty, and the Irish National Symphony Orchestra, and pop artists like U2 and Kate Bush.

The Music of Bill Whelan is part of Berklee's Signature Music Series and takes place Thursday, April 11, 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. The venue is wheelchair accessible. Tickets for reserved seating are on sale now at $8 and $16 in advance, $12 and $20 day of show. Buy tickets at berklee.edu/bpc. For more information, call the Berklee Performance Center Box Office at 617 747-2261.

Whelan wrote a new composition especially for the concert to be performed by a student vocal group. Joining Whelan for guest turns on stage will be Irish entertainers Zoe Conway on fiddle, Declan Masterson on uilleann pipes, and traditional dancer Mick Donegan. Featured students will be violinist Tara Novak and harpist Mairi Campbell.

The concert is produced by Whelan and executive produced by Larry Bethune, vice president for student affairs/dean of students, and Rob Rose, vice president for special programs. Music direction comes from Ken Zambello, ensemble professor, and vocal direction from voice instructor Annette Philip.

Riverdance originated from a seven-minute orchestral piece for hard-shoe Irish dance created for a TV program. From its first public performance in Dublin in 1994 to Radio City Music Hall, to international touring productions, Riverdance has brought Irish music and dance to millions of people. The Riverdance soundtrack made Whelan a Grammy Award-winner for Best Musical Show Album, and the video of the production became the all-time highest selling music video in the U.K.

Whelan’s production and arranging credits include a number of projects with artists from his homeland. He produced the song “Refugee” for U2’s album War. He collaborated with Van Morrison writing and producing the score for the film Lamb. Whelan and Michael Kamin arranged all tracks on Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love album.

Among Whelan’s earliest work with Irish traditional music was as a band member of the legendary Planxty, starting in 1980. He’s produced records for many Irish folk artists, including the Dubliners, Andy Irvine, Stockton's Wing, Davy Spillane, and the Irish National Symphony Orchestra.