Issue: October-December 2013
Bandworld Magazine Page


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by M. Max McKee  Bio


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Back Stories: Continued


Johan de Meij and Bill Whelan

Back in 2010 when Johan de Meij was working on the "At Kitty O'Shea's" consortium commission for the American Band College, he noticed one day on the Items for Sale board in the building where he lives in New York City a coffee machine for sale by another tenant. When we went to see the item, he noticed immediately that the owner of the coffee machine had an Irish accent. Thinking about the music he was planning for Kitty's, he asked the gentleman if he had any ideas about places he could get special information on Irish music. When asked why he inquired about that, Johan said, "I'm a composer and I'm writing a piece for the American Band College."

The man immediately said, "So, you're a composer. So am I. My names Bill Whelan." The man who wrote Riverdance!!

The two of them became good friends and when Johan was asked to come as a guest conductor/composer for the 25th anniversary of the American Band College, he soon talked with Bill and they decided to collaborate on a new setting of music from "Riverdance" to be premiered in Oregon. Bill decided that he and his wife, Denise, would come for that premiere and thus joined us for that very special celebration on June 25th at the Ginger Rogers Craterian Theater in Medford, Oregon. During ABC, the Bill and Johan presented a clinic and were both involved in the rehearsals, the concert and the after-party with the three trumpet soloists along with Yolanda Pelzer and the other conductors.

As part of his music, Johan also decided to present two movements from his famed "Lord of the Rings," which was also celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Johan with Max & Nell McKee presenting them with the beautiful "Lord of the Rings" score. deMWhBill Whelan celebrates with Johan de Meij after completion of their Riverdance setting. Whelan

RivPreBill Whelan and Johan de Meij take a bow after the Riverdance premier during ABC's 25h anniversary concert on June 25, 2013.

A very special gift since Nell and Max were at the second performance of "Lord of the Rings" while Max was teaching in France in 1989 and bought the CD for Nell, to which "she has cooked" ever since!
Doc Severinsen with Johan de Meij and Max McKee during the June 24th faculty dinner in 2013.



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