Bill Whelan – Riverdance (Music From The Show) (1995)

FrontCover1Bill Whelan (born 22 May 1950 in Limerick, Ireland) is an Irish composer and musician. 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. “Riverdance” was released as a single in 1994, credited to “Bill Whelan and Anúna featuring the RTÉ Concert Orchestra”. It reached number one in Ireland for 18 weeks and number nine in the UK. The album of the same title reached number 31 in the album charts in 1995.

Bill with his mother and father:
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Whelan has also composed a symphonic suite version of Riverdance, with its premiere performed by the Ulster Orchestra on BBC Radio 3 in August 2014.

Whelan is a native of Limerick, and was educated at Crescent College.[3] He gained his Bachelor of Civil Law degree at University College Dublin in 1973 and then went to King’s Inns. In 2011, Whelan was awarded the UCD Foundation Day Medal in recognition of his outstanding achievements and his contribution to Irish music worldwide.

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While he is best known for his “Riverdance” composition and the theatrical show of the same name, Whelan has been involved in many ground-breaking projects in Ireland since the 1970s. As a producer he has worked with U2 (on their War album), Van Morrison, Kate Bush, The Dubliners, Planxty, Andy Irvine & Davy Spillane, Patrick Street, Stockton’s Wing and fellow Limerickman Richard Harris.

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Riverdance: Music from the Show is an album of the music composed by Bill Whelan for the Riverdance theatrical show, and performed by the show’s own musicians and singers.
The recording was engineered and mixed at Windmill Lane Studios in 1995. In 1997, it won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album for 1996. The album was released five times: in 1995, 1997, 2003, 2005 and 2020, each time with a different cover, sometimes different versions or mixes of the songs, and a slightly different track list. Notably, the “Cloudsong” and “Riverdance” segments are placed under one track going by the name of the latter. (wikipedia)

Concert Poster

Even though the visual elements are missing, this soundtrack to Riverdance sounds quite spectacular, making a no-holds-barred attempt to captivate the listener with grandiose variations on Celtic musical forms. Adding to the grandeur and magic of the music are performances by artists such as Davy Spillane, Maire Breatnach, Anúna, Nicola Parov, and others who are forces to reckon with individually. The music transitions between soaring vocal pieces and floor-shaking orchestral numbers that possess astonishing energy. Lead ceilidh dancer Michael Flatley left the production under something of a cloud, turning up later with the derivative and far more mediocre Lord of the Dance. On this recording of Riverdance: Music from the Show, Flatley, female lead Jean Butler, and the other ceilidh dancers can be heard providing taps on three tracks, including the thunderous “The Countess Cathleen/Women of the Sidhe.” (Steven McDonald)


Cormac Breatnach (tin whistle)
Máire Breatnach (fiddle)
Ronan Browne (uilleann pipes)
Robbie Casserly (bass, drums)
Áine Uí Cheallaigh (vocals)
Anthony Drennan (guitar)
Noel Eccles (percussion)
Kenneth Edge (saxophone)
Juan Reina Gonzalez (cantor)
Robbie Harris (bodhrán)
David Hayes (keyboards)
Tom Hayes (bodhrán, spoons)
Eileen Ivers (fiddle)
Declan Masterson (low whistle)
Des Moore (guitar)
Máirtín O’Connor (accordion)
Eoghan O’Neill (bass)
Nikola Parov (gadulka, kaval)
Desi Reynolds (drums)
Rafael Riqueni (guitar)
Davy Spillane (uilleann pipes, tin whistle)

Conducted by Michael McGlynn & Prionsias O’Duinn


01. Reel Around The Sun 8.42
02. The Heart’s Cry  2.27
03. The Countess Cathleen/Women Of The Sidhe  5.41
04. Caoineadh Cú Chulainn (Lament) 4.11
05. Shivna 3.38
06. Firedance 6.03
07. Slip Into Spring 3.46
08. Riverdance 5.44
09. American Wake (The Nova Scotia Set) 3.08
10. Lift The Wings 4.59
11. Macedonian Morning 2.56
12. Marta’s Dance / The Russian Dervish 6.03
13. Andalucía 4.21
14. Home And The Heartland 3.26
15 The Harvest 3.38
16. Riverdance 3.47

All songs written by Bill Whelan



Michael Flatley and Jean Butler – Riverdance – opening night The Point Theatre 9/2/1995:

The official Riverdance website:

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