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Bill Whelan's new flute concerto, Linen and Lace, receives first performances by James Galway in Dublin and Limerick in June and its US premiere the following month in Chicago.

Composer Bill Whelan, most celebrated for his Riverdance music, has written a new flute concerto for James Galway, receiving its premiere at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on 20 June. The first performance of the new work, entitled Linen and Lace, is part of an all-Whelan gala concert presented by RTÉ lyric fm with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gavin Maloney. The programme also features the recent Riverdance Symphonic Suite and Inishlacken, his double concerto for violin and fiddle.

The gala concert is repeated the following day at the University Concert Hall in Limerick as part of the Limerick City of Culture 2014 celebrations. This concert will be broadcast live on RTE lyric fm and webcast on www.rte.ie/lyricfm. James Galway gives the US premiere of Linen and Lace at the Ravinia Festival at Highland Park in Chicago on 8 July with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

On his new composition Linen and Lace, Bill Whelan says: "When Sir James Galway and I first spoke of working together towards the birth of a new flute concerto, we wanted to link our two native cities. Belfast and Limerick are renowned respectively for their linen and lace and it was a beautiful image in An Unborn Child by the Belfast poet Derek Mahon which lubricated my imagination. The child, awaiting its birth, muses on the mysteries relayed "through the dark network" of its mother's body as she sews in expectation of the infant arrival. I pictured her fingering the filigree of Limerick Lace and grasping the supple strength of Belfast Linen. Somehow this image, and the anticipatory life of the womb, became the affirmative force which inspired this piece.

"It has been over 20 years since I have had the opportunity to premiere a new piece with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, so it is a particular honour to bring this new concerto for James Galway to life for the first time with this orchestra. I am grateful to RTÉ lyric fm for making this happen, and I am especially delighted that it will form part of the programme of the Limerick City of Culture 2014."

Bill Whelan returned to his home city of Limerick for performances of Riverdance in January to launch the City of Culture celebrations. Riverdance undertakes its 20th anniversary tour this year, starting in Germany where it passed the 25 million live audience mark, with dates in the coming months in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ukraine, Russia, the UK (with 15 venues including the Hammersmith Apollo in London), and ending in Switzerland on 21 December.

A selection of Riverdance music is available from The Shop at Boosey.com and other good music shops, including a range of new publications to celebrate the 20th anniversary:
> Riverdance Selections
> Riverdance Choral

>  Further information on Work: Linen and Lace

Photo of Bill Whelan by Jim McCann

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