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Variety is spice of life for multi-talented Bill

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It has won him a Grammy award, has fans all over the world, and has given hundreds of Irish musicians and dancers well-paid employment, so Bill Whelan is rightly proud of having composed the music for the phenomenal hit show, Riverdance. But ask him where he places it in his cannon of work, and he is pretty circumspect.

“It would be like asking me which of my children I prefer,” he says with a laugh.

Limerick man Bill, who spends as much time in Roundstone as his busy working schedule will allow, is giving a talk at this year’s Clifden Arts Week on Riverdance and his life in music. It promises to be fascinating, given that his music spans many genres and that he has worked with some of the world’s finest singers and musicians including Van Morrison, U2, Kate Bush and Elmer Bernstein.

Bill was also a member of Planxty and he produced and arranged Ireland’s Eurovision winners, Hold Me Now and What’s Another Year. Currently he’s working on a musical for Rough Magic Theatre Company based on the 1971 ‘contraceptive train’, which saw members of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement bring contraceptives – then illegal in the Republic – from Belfast to Dublin by train. Train will be performed at this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival.

But life could have turned out much differently. Although he had studied piano as a child in Limerick where he later joined a band, playing drums and writing songs, Bill’s initial career path veered towards law.

He attended UCD, graduating in 1973 with a law degree, but music was his passion and after college, he immersed himself in it.

“My connection to Irish music came when I was in my 20s,” he recalls.

Folk was his entry to trad, he says, when he worked with Danny Doyle. After that, he got involved with Planxty and “that was the turning point”. It brought him into intimate contact with musicians including Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Christy Moore, Nollaig Casey and Liam O’Flynn.

Bill wrote the score for Timedance with Dónal Lunny in 1981, beginning a creative strand that continued through the 1990s, culminating in Riverdance.

CITY TRIBUNE

Comedian Shane for city show

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Comedian Shane Clifford.

Shane Clifford, who has been described by podcaster and comedian Blindboy as ‘The best comedian in Ireland, hands down’, will be at the city’s Town Hall Studio next Thursday, December 1, at 8.30pm to perform his new show, AW Class.

It’s being presented by the Lisa Richards Agency who are promising loads of laughter as Tralee man Shane tries and fails to get to grips with rugby fans, posh dogs, sinister yoghurt and retail breakdowns.

Shane who previously worked in Tesco, was 30 when he did his first stand-up show about six years ago. That was after he had quit his job, gone travelling and decided, on a whim, to upload some silly videos to the internet. He dealt with issues such as mental health and masculinity in an original and funny way in these videos and has since gone on to gain a reputation as an original voice on the Irish comedy scene, playing festivals and venues including Whelan’s.

Tickets €15, plus €1 booking fee, from tht.ie, 091-569777 or from the Town Hall Theatre box office.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

INO present Donizetti comedy at Town Hall

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Graeme Danby as Don Pasquale and Kelli-Ann Masterson as Norina. 

Irish National Opera will return to Galway next Thursday, December 1, to present Donizetti’s Don Pasquale in the Town Hall Theatre at  8pm.

Donizetti’s sparkling operatic comedy is an intergenerational tug-of-war about love and money. It  features Don Pasquale, a grumpy old bachelor; Ernesto, his good-looking young heir; and Norina, an attractive young widow.

This unorthodox love triangle is the basis for a hilarious and touching show that offers an entertaining slant on the threat of being disinherited, a mock marriage and a spendthrift wife.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles, it’s conducted by Teresa Riveiro Böhm and directed by Orpha Phelan, with Graeme Danby as Don Pasquale and Kelli-Ann Masterson as Norina.

Tickets for Don Pasquale are €30/€27, plus €1 booking fee, from tht.ie, 091-569777 or from the Town Hall Box Office.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Music festival set to return after a successful debut

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Billy Owens of Galway Simon Music Project accompanied by Aboriginal singer Jesse Lloyd as they sing The Galway Shawl during a visit by Jessie to An Taibhdhearc to meet with members of the project during the Songs from an Open Road Festival. Jessie, who is an artist, musician, singer and activist, collaborated with well-known musician Steve Cooney for her concert as part of the festival. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Musicians, artists and DJs from more than 15 countries congregated in Galway City at the weekend to take part in the inaugural Songs From An Open Road (SFAOR).

Organisers Pádraic Boran and Pat Neary say the overwhelmingly positive reaction from audiences and participants alike augurs well for its future. They are hopeful it marks the beginning of a new international winter World Music festival in Galway.

There were a couple ‘firsts’ over the weekend. For many who attended the beautiful Loft @Seven in Bridge Street, it may well be a case of an ‘I was there’ moment, as an intimate but appreciative crowd saw a stupendous set from Indian futurist jazz percussionist Sarathy Koewar and his band. This was their Irish debut and also marked the beginning of a pioneering world tour from the burgeoning group. Pat and Pádraic are hopeful that this exciting talent will return to Ireland and Galway soon.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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