Irish conductor Noel Kelehan dies

The death has been announced of former Irish conductor Noel Kelehan.  A conductor of five Irish winning songs, he was a stalwart of Eurovision for over 30 years.

Noel Kelehan died after a short illness, at the age of 76.  He was most famous to viewers across Europe as the conductor of Irish Eurovision songs 24 times between 1966 and 1998.  During his time as conductor, he was involved with the winning Irish entries in 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993 and 1996.  Ironically, when Rock n Roll kids won for Ireland in 1994, it was performed without orchestral accompaniment.  However, he did wield the baton for the début Polish entry To nie ja! which finished runner-up.  One year earlier, he also conducted for Bosnia-Hercegovina when his counterpart was unable to make the aeroplane out of Sarajevo.

Outside of Eurovision, he was also an accomplished jazz pianist, performing with the likes of jazz guitarist Louis Stewart.  He was also conductor with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra until he retired completely from broadcasting in 1998.

Kelehan had several records to his credit. Most notably, he wrote the string arrangements for U2‘s 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire.

Noel is survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons.

Source: Eurovisionary, RTÉ

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