New Album


The new recording Transcendence by Ilse de Ziah features rich and dark cello performances of music inspired by the religious and spiritual traditions of old Ireland.

“When I first heard the recording from 1951 of singer Kitty Gallagher, I felt the deep connection of music with mourning. She sang Caoineadh do Leanbh Marbh (Keen for a Dead Child) in a hotel room in Letterkenny on a bitter hard afternoon during a blizzard. I knew I had to find a way to express the ‘caoine’ or keen on the cello. I researched into this style of music and discovered a story of the banning and subsequent loss of the tradition, and the heartbreak of letting loved ones go without this powerful expression of grief. The keens are improvisations based on musical themes, and to bring this to the cello, I needed to take my time to live with the music, grieve with it, play it at funerals, play on a bleak hill, visit the old overgrown cemeteries, visit abandoned houses, listen to the stories of an older generation and form a rich sacred cello vernacular. Through research and performances for funerals and weddings I also collected hymns and devotional songs, and the vision poem or Aisling. I compiled a collection of deeply emotional music that has never been arranged for the cello, and with the help of a Cork County Council grant, I have spent the past 6 months of lockdown and loss, composing and recording these intense pieces. The recordings are inspired by the need for a time of grieving after so much has been lost, and for a need of authentic, sensitive and powerful music to uplift our spirits and help carry us with vigour and hope into the future. The cello is the perfect conduit for such music.”

The 11 pieces that comprise Transcendence, Irish sacred music for solo cello, were released 18 September 2020.

A very subtle, deceptive and very cohesive aural statement…each piece dovetails beautifully into the next… delving into a folky, sacred past here in Ireland  Bernard Clarke LyricFM


Liner notes

Press Release

Transcendence Cover Image

Portrait photo: Ilse Rocks with Umbrella

Landscape photo: Ilse with Umbrella




Google Play


Sheet music of tracks in Sacred Irish Music for Solo Cello 

“Ilse’s recordings are hauntingly beautiful, the emotion in her music is tangible which shows that she plays from her heart. She is a true technician on the cello, a natural performer, but it is evident that, for Ilse, it is the music, its meaning and what it conveys to the audience that matter. I loved listening to ‘Transcendence’, a heavenly, ethereal, other-worldly soundtrack, to sooth the soul, especially in these uncertain times.” Louise Harrison, L-Myriad




YouTube Channel

Further information:

Irish-Australian cellist and composer Ilse de Ziah has a deep passion for composing, arranging and performing music for the cello. Using traditional Irish melodies as source material, she creates contemporary arrangements perfectly suited for the cello. With the marriage of classical detail and folkloric tradition, this makes for a transcendent musical experience.

Ilse is well respected for her interpretation of slow Irish Airs, with a CD and published book Irish Airs for Solo Cello. Her award winning film Living the Tradition, a journey into old Irish airs reflects the passion she has for the music and it won best documentary in the Eirie International Film Festival. She regularly tours her solo cello performance around Europe and has a large following on her solo cello YouTube channel. In Summer 2018 Ilse featured as soloist in the largest Gamelan Festival in the world, in Java with the Irish Gamelan Orchestra. She is a member of the Quiet Music Ensemble and performs and records with many trad, rock, pop, jazz and world musicians. Her next music documentary is in pre-production, and she has recently published her fourth book of solo cello music, Sacred Irish Music for Solo Cello.

An accomplished cellist with inspiring depth and vivacity.