US Premiere for New Bill Whelan Work

Chicago Symphony Orchestra will link with James Galway at Ravinia Festival.

One of the world's leading orchestras, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, will give the US premiere of Linen and Lace, the new concerto by Irish composer, Bill Whelan. The piece will be performed at the renowned Ravinia Festival, in Illinois, on Tuesday 8 July and will be conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya and feature soloist James Galway. Linen and Lace is a concerto for flute.

The piece was originally commissioned by RTÉ Lyric fm – and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, along with James Galway and conductor Gavin Maloney, gave the world premiere performances at the Bill Whelan Gala concerts in Dublin and Limerick last weekend.

“It’s basically a two-movement piece, the first being Belfast, and the second being Limerick,” the composer told Niall Stokes in an interview in the current issue of Hot Press. “I decided that there was plenty to celebrate in the working people in both places. So both pieces start off with little quotes of well-known pieces to do with the cities: Belfast starts off with ‘My Lagan Love’, and Limerick begins with ‘There Is an Isle’, both of which are strongly associated with the culture of the cities.”

During the course of a lengthy interview, Whelan also made some startling revelations about Riverdance – the work for which he is most famous, which was produced by Moya Doherty.

“It’s very difficult for me to talk about this without being hurtful to people, which I don’t want to be,” he said. "My relationship with Moya has always been very cordial. And so I know this might sound really shitty – but I had sole credit on the marquee of Radio City for the first production there of Riverdance. And over the years that became not acceptable – and we had to have everyone’s name up.

“That was a demand that, personally, I had no problem with. But then it got to the stage where, if there wasn’t room for everybody, then my name wouldn’t be up there. That was a production decision. And if I’m uncomfortable about any part of it, the artist in me who created the thing finds himself uncomfortable with that.”

The full story is told for the first time in a fascinating and often challenging in depth interview in the current issue of Hot Press – with Paul Weller on the front cover...

 

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