performance calendar
Friday, December 1, 2017

Cutting Hall,
Palatine IL

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Altergott Auditorium at Palatine High School,
Palatine IL

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Cutting Hall,
Palatine IL

program notes > R > Riverdance

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Bill Whelan/arr. by Carl Strommen


Riverdance began as a composition for the interval (intermission) of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. Within a few years that seven-minute display of tradi- tional hard-shoe Irish dancing had become a full-length Broadway stage produc- tion. It is presented here in four movements transcribed for wind band.

The Wellspring Theme/Women of Ireland: Originally scored for low whis- tle and/or Uillean pipes, the haunting introductory theme is performed here by the soprano saxophone. Countess Cathleen was often used by poet W. B. Yeats as a feminine image for Ireland, and hence is the title for the slip jig, the first of two tunes in this set. The second, Women of the Sidhe (pronounced “Shee”), is a lively jig that accompanies a dance in which powerful fairy women over- whelm and subdue male intruders who have tried to capture the queen.

The Hearts Cry: This movement is also in praise of feminine qualities. The lyrics refer to the salmon, a traditional symbol of wisdom whose daring jour- ney back to its birthplace exemplifies the powerful natural instinct to procreate, and the eagle whose fierce protection of its young symbolizes motherhood.

Thunder and Lightening: In the stageplay, a group of male dancers tap out unison rhythms. A solo dancer then sets a cadence which the other members follow in a call and response pattern. It ends with a shout.

Finale: The inspiration for Riverdance was the life of a river. In the show, the slip jig is danced by the Riverwoman who vanishes with the entrance of the male dancer, symbolizing the Earth. River and Earth are then united in a full blown jig.

Composer Bill Whelan (b. 1950) is a native of Limerick, Ireland. Educated at Crescent College, University College Dublin and the King's Inns, he played key- boards in a rock band. He has worked extensively in traditional Irish music, theater, television and film. Production and arranging credits include U2, Van Morrison and Kate Bush. He was honored with a Grammy award in 1997 for his Riverdance CD.

Last updated on April 5, 2012 by Palatine Concert Band