The idea for a Riverdance Symphonic Suite had been on my radar for some time. Over the years I had often had requests from orchestras around the world for a full-length concert piece containing the music from the show. As my original score incorporated traditional instruments, it was not always easy to assemble the various ethnic elements in countries where pipers and bodhrán players are rare! So what I have done with this new score is to present all the themes from Riverdance in a way that is playable by a full symphony orchestra anywhere in the world, without the traditional musicians. There were two principal challenges – the first was to arrange the themes and melodies as a colourful and dynamic concert piece. The second was to choose the instruments from within the conventional symphony orchestra to appropriately replace the original ethnic instruments and voices.
In this score the listener will hear the core pieces at the heart of Riverdance – namely those melodies which were inspired by the modes and rhythms of traditional Irish music. However, as in most of the music for Riverdance, I have played with rhythmic structures and with counterpoint deliberately to present the choreographers with opportunities to break outside the conventional Irish dance forms.
In this suite I have also incorporated the music I composed for the international elements in Riverdance. So we will hear the Spanish-inflected Firedance and Andalucia as well as the music inspired by Bulgarian, Macedonian and Russian music.The choral music and songs are also included – with the orchestra taking the melodies – and the suite reaches its climax with Riverdance itself – the original seven minute piece that I wrote when the first performance was unveiled in 1994.