UCD Foundation Day Medal for Bill Whelan
Bill Whelan, Grammy-winning composer of Riverdance, has been awarded the 2011 University College Dublin Foundation Day Medal.
The Foundation Day Medal was inaugurated in 2004 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of UCD’s antecedent institution, the Catholic University of Ireland. It is awarded annually to a UCD graduate who has demonstrated great achievements in their field. Previous winners include author Maeve Binchy and rugby player Brian O’Driscoll.
In his Keynote Speech at the 2011 ceremony, the Minister for Education, Ruari Quinn, remarked of Whelan, ‘The clarity of [Whelan’s] musical diction is envied around the world, but it is not often emulated.’
Professor Harry White of the UCD School of Music suggested that, ‘It is at the confluence between tradition and innovation that Whelan’s originality truly shines through. Riverdance’s claim to greatness lies in the Irish, European, North American and Asian traditions which he so skilfully engages.’ White goes on: ‘It is a claim which has been so widely endorsed (and absorbed) that we might be in danger of forgetting just how original Riverdance really is. Riverdance carries forward an expression of the Irish musical imagination that reconfigures our narrative understanding of how music in Ireland can speak to the world.’
Bill Whelan was presented with the UCD Foundation Medal by the university’s President, Dr. Hugh Brady. The ceremony was preceded by a performance of three Whelan compositions, The Heart’s Cry, Shivna and Cloudsong, by the UCD Ad Astra Scholars and UCD Choral Scholars under the direction of Desmond Earley. After the award ceremony, Bill Whelan joined the UCD Ad Astra Scholars, UCD Choral Scholars, UCD Orchestral Scholars and conductor Ciarán Crilly for a special performance of some of his music.
Video of the event can be viewed here.
Pictured: Bill Whelan with the UCD Foundation Day Medal.
Published on 11 November 2011