Born in Limerick, Ireland on 22 May 1950, Bill Whelan was educated at Crescent College, University College Dublin and the King’s Inns. He is best known for composing a piece for the interval of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. The result, Riverdance, was a seven-minute display of traditional Irish dancing that became a full-length stage production and spawned a worldwide craze for Irish dancing and Celtic music and also won him a Grammy.
Before this, Whelan has been involved in many ground-breaking projects in Ireland since the 1970s. As a producer he has worked with U2 (on their album ‘War’), Van Morrison, The Dubliners, Planxty, Andy Irvine & Davy Spillane, Patrick Street, Stockton’s Wing and fellow Limerickman Richard Harris. Whelan wrote and arranged pipes and strings for Kate’s song Night of the Swallow, and went on to handle all Irish arrangements on her albums Hounds Of Love and The Sensual World.
In theatre, Whelan received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for his adaption of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore. He wrote original music for 15 of W. B. Yeats’s plays for Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and his film credits include, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ (starring Meryl Streep), ‘Some Mother’s Son’, ‘Lamb’ (starring Liam Neeson) and the award-winning ‘At The Cinema Palace’.
Bill Whelan about Kate
I loved the experience of working with her, and her total focus on the music. Some people it’s about ego, and it’s about: how does my voice sound here and here? Or whatever. But with her, it was always about music. (Bill Whelan Interview – Whelan In The Years. Hot Press, 23 June 2014)
- Bill Whelan. Wikipedia, retrieved 11 September 2017.