herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Mr Eurovision Noel dies at 76 after five epic victories

FORMER RTE musical director Noel Kelehan, who conducted 24 Irish entries in the Eurovision Song Contest, has died at the age of 76.

Mr Kelehan, a jazz pianist and conductor of the RTE Concert Orchestra, conducted five winning Irish entries: in 1980 (What's Another Year?), 1987 (Hold Me Now), 1992 (Why Me?), 1993 (In Your Eyes), and 1996 (The Voice).

In all, he conducted 29 Eurovision entries, 24 of them Irish. He retired in 1998.

He also wrote the string arrangements for U2's 1984 album, The Unforgettable Fire.

Born in Dublin in 1935, he was self-taught as a composer and arranger, having received a classical training in piano theory.

He is survived by his wife Mary, his daughter Carol and his sons, Simon and Brian.

He also played as a pianist in several well- known Irish jazz quartets from the 1960s.

RTE Director General Noel Curran said: "Through his work with the RTE Concert Orchestra, above all at so many Eurovision Song Contests, Noel Kelehan became indelibly associated with music at RTE and with musical excellence as an expression of Ireland's confident participation in the wider world."

mlavery@herald.ie

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