Bill Whelan

Renowned composer, producer and arranger Bill Whelan has worked extensively in theatre, film and television. His grammy winning album of music for Riverdance The Show is certified Platinum in the US, Ireland and Australia. His orchestral work, The Seville Suite was specially commissioned for Expo ’92. The Spirit Of Mayo, was first performed in 1993 by and 85-piece orchestra in Dublin’s National Concert Hall. As a producer he has worked with U2, Van Morrison, Kate Bush, Richard Harris, The Dubliners, Planxty, Andy Irvine, Patrick Street, Stockton’s Wing, Davy Spillane and Bulgarian/Irish band, East Wind. His recently completed trilogy of pieces for chamber orchestra: Inishlacken, Carna and Errisbeg are included on his latest CD, "The Connemara Suite".

He has worked extensively in theatre. His adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore had successful runs at London's Old Vic, Melbourne and Sydney and received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination. Since 1989, when he was appointed as composer to the W.B. Yeats International Theatre Festival at Dublin's Abbey Theatre, he has written original music for 15 Yeat's plays.

His work with Irish traditional music and musicians has occupied much of his time since 1980 when he was a member of the legendary Planxty. He also produced records for many folk and traditional artists including, Andy Irvine, Patrick Street, Stockton's Wing (TARACD3028 & 4016), Davy Spillane and the Bulgarian/Irish band, EastWind (TARACD3027) and Zoë Conway (TARACD4012). Bill's latest release 'The Connemara Suite' (TARACD4021), which is set for release in Jan 2008, features the Irish Chamber Orchestra along with soloists Zoë Conway, Morgan Crowley, Colin Dunne (Dance Percussion), Fionnuala Hunt, Michelle Mulcahy.


In 1987, he wrote his first major orchestral suite commemorating the film music of Seán Ó Riada, which was conducted by Elmer Bernstein and performed by the Irish National Symphony Orchestra.

His specially commissioned orchestral work, The Seville Suite (TARACD3030), received its European premiere performance at the Maestranza in Seville as part of the celebrations for Ireland's National Day at Expo '92. The last movement of this work was danced by Maria Pagés who was later to appear in Riverdance The Show (Click here to view Video Clip). His next large scale orchestral work, The Spirit Of Mayo, was performed in 1993 by an 85-piece orchestra in Dublin's National Concert Hall. Together with the choral group Anúna, this piece also featured a powerful Celtic drum corps and a 200 strong choir.

BILL WHELAN – A CELEBRATION Waterfront Hall, Belfast 17 March 2009
The Concert featured passages from The Connemara Suite (Tara4021), The Seville Suite (Tara3030) and Riverdance and was broadcast live on BBC NI Radio Click here to hear a BBC recording of the concert
Performers on the night included; The Ulster Orchestra with David Brophy (conductor) Soloists: Fionnuala Hunt, violin, Aoife O’Brien, violin, Colin Dunne, dancer, Michael Longley, poet, Julie Fowlis, singer, Declan Masterson, uileann pipes, Sharon Corr, fiddle, Máirtín O’Connor, accordion, Mel Mercier, bodhrán, Bill Whelan, electric piano, Rodrigo Romani, Galician harp, Pepe Ferreiros, whistles and Galician pipes, Nando Casal, whistles and Galician pipes, Yolanda Gonzalez Sobrado, dancer.

His own compositional work in film includes Lamb starring Liam Neeson, the award-winning At The Cinema Palace, the emotive score for the film Some Mother's Son and Dancing At Lughnasa starring Meryl Streep.

Riverdance was composed especially for the interval act of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. The original 7 minute orchestral piece conceived for hard-shoe Irish dance was televised to a European audience of 300 million viewers. As a single release, Riverdance spent 18 weeks at No. 1 in the Irish charts and was a Top Ten hit in the UK.

Later that year Bill Whelan began to write Riverdance The Show and in February 1995 it had it's first performance at The Point Theatre in Dublin. Since then it has gone on to play to millions of people world-wide with both the album and video topping the charts around the world.

Riverdance Music From The Show is an album of 15 inspired composition's which marry a rich blend of ethnic influences, such as Russian, Spanish and Irish. The album features stunning performances from some of the finest Irish and International musicians including Eileen Ivers, Rafael Riquini, Nikola Parov and Davy Spillane.

Bill was honoured with a 1997 Grammy Award when the Riverdance record was named the 'Best Musical Show Album'. Most recently Inishlacken (from Bill's Album The Connemara Suite) was performed by Zoe Conway and Fionnuala Hunt in Dublin on December 5th as part of the Royal Irish Academy of Ireland's ceremony conferring fellowships on Gerard Gillen, Bill Whelan and Harry White.