Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

The Music of Bill Whelan, Grammy Award-Winning Composer of RIVERDANCE, to be Performed at The Kennedy Center (5/17), Lincoln Center (5/19) and Ashland Pops (7/4)

Bill Whelan. Photo by Jim McCann

Bill Whelan. Photo by Jim McCann

 While internationally-acclaimed Irish composer Bill Whelan’s music for Riverdance has continued to thrill audiences around the world for the past 20 years, his more recent original orchestral compositions are now sought after on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Grammy Award-winning composer has written for theatre, film and orchestra and now fields requests to not only allow his works to be done by major institutions and festivals, but to perform them himself.

Whelan recently returned from France where he performed with the Breton Symphony Orchestra.

On Tuesday, May 17 – Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington, DC, two of his pieces, “Carna” (from The Connemara Suite) and “Firedance” (from Riverdance) will be performed at the opening of The Kennedy Center Festival “Ireland 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture.”  Directed and hosted by Olivier Award-winning actress Fiona Shaw, the concert reveals the talent, soul and enthusiasm of the Irish, showcasing a small slice of what the new Ireland has to offer. The performance will feature former Riverdance star Colin Dunne and others along with the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Irish conductor David Brophy. Click here for tickets and more information.

On Thursday, May 19 at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium, New York, Conor Linehan, acclaimed pianist and composer with the Abbey Theatre (Ireland’s National Theatre), offers a musical exploration of Irish history. In this informal concert, Conor performs music from the period of the 1916 Easter Rising, when Ireland began their revolution against British rule, up to contemporary music from Ireland in 2016, including the music of Bill Whelan. Click here for tickets and more information.

On Sunday, May 29 The Schull Fastnet Film Festival in Dublin, Whelan will discuss “Music in Film” in conversation with Maurice Seezer. He’ll discuss his approach to composing for film, referring to his work from Dancing At Lughnasa for Pat O’Connor, Some Mother’s Son for Terry George and Poitín for Bob Quinn among others. Click here for tickets and more information.

On Monday, July 4 in Ashland, Oregon, 200-plus members of the American Band College master’s degree program will join together for the 28th annual Star Spangled Spectacular “Ashland Pops” at the Ashland High School Stadium. The group includes band directors from over 35 states and 5 countries performing this multi-faceted show that includes the music of Bill Whelan – “The Seville Suite” and highlights from Riverdance. Click here for tickets anymore information.

Bill Whelan received the 1997 Grammy Award for his music for Riverdance. More than 22 million people have seen Riverdance live.  The CD has been certified platinum in the United States. His orchestral work, The Seville Suite was specially commissioned for Expo ’92 and continues to be widely performed, The Spirit Of Mayo, written for orchestra and choir was first performed in 1993 at Dublin’s National Concert Hall. His musical settings of the literary works of Irish writers have been performed widely at home and abroad and include the poetry of Paul Muldoon, Derek Mahon, Tom McIntyre, Frank McGuinness and Paul Durcan. As a producer in the studio he has worked with U2, Van Morrison, Kate Bush, Richard Harris, The Dubliners, Planxty, Andy Irvine, Davy Spillane and Bulgarian/Irish band, East Wind.  His film work includes music scores for “Dancing At Lughnasa” starring Meryl Streep, “Some Mother’s Son” featuring Helen Mirren and “Lamb” with Liam Neeson.  The Connemara Suite, a trilogy of pieces composed for chamber orchestra premiered at Carnegie Hall by the Irish Chamber Orchestra in March 2005.  He was commissioned by RTE Lyric FM to write a concerto for flute for Sir James Galway in 2014. Titled Linen & Lace it was commissioned to celebrate the city of Limerick as the National City of Culture.   It was performed by the Irish National Symphony Orchestra and subsequently by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  The Train musical was inspired by the contraceptive train and the Irish Woman’s Liberation Movement of the 1970’s.  With music by Bill Whelan and lyrics by Arthur Riordan, it was performed as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2015. Bill serves on the boards of Berklee School of Music in Boston, the University of Limerick Foundation, and Music Generation.  He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Music, holds two honorary doctorates and was recently elected to Aosdána,the prestigious Academy of Irish artists.

WWW.BILLWHELAN.COM     @ShivnaBill

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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