FAMED Limerick composer Bill Whelan, who wrote the music for Riverdance, is one of the first two inductees into the IMRO Academy, established to celebrate the country’s ‘iconic’ songwriters and composers.
Just two artists have been inducted into the Academy - established by the Irish Music Rights Organisation, a national organisation that administers the performing right in copyright music in Ireland - Limerick man Whelan and Brendan Graham, co-writer of well known ballad ‘You Raise Me Up’.
Just two artists a year are to be inducted, considered to be those who have made a “very significant cultural and social impact in Ireland and/or internationally”.
Whelan, who also has production and arranging credits that include, among others, U2, Van Morrison and Kate Bush, said: “It is a double honour for me to be inducted into this new Irish Academy of Composers - not alone because I share it with my long-time friend and colleague, Brendan Graham - both founder- members of IMRO, but also because I look forward in the coming years to the growth of this Academy into an association of Irish talent, as yet unimagined.”
Victor Finn, CEO, IMRO, said that both artists had “contributed enormously to the recognition of Ireland across the globe”.
Chairman of IMRO, Keith Donald, also paid tribute to Whelan adding: “When you think Ireland and music you think either U2 or Riverdance”.
Whelan was born in Limerick in 1950, attending Presentation Convent School, Sexton Street and the Crescent, and later Limerick School of Music.
He quickly became a noted arranger and composer and in 1994 was asked to compose a piece for the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest. The result was Riverdance, initially a seven minute composition and later full stage show that became a phenomenon around the world.
Whelan and Brendan Graham were presented with oak and steel statuettes individually cast by blacksmith and sculptor John Hogan at the recent induction ceremony in the Four Seasons.
Following the ceremony, the duo presented a world premiere performance of their new composition, ‘The High Line’, which they wrote together in New York recently.