I’ve been involved in a wonderful new opera composed and directed by John O’Brien with libretto by John O’B and Eádaoin O’Donohghue. It is based on the short story by Oscar Wilde ‘The Nightengale and The Rose’ A pretty sad tale, but the opera is full of characters to delight! I’m one of the 9 muses – Melpomone, muse of Tragedy and in my earthly guise a willow tree. (the programme shot below).
I stand as I play most of the time, as I am acting and dancing (sort of shimmying along). I just pull the spike out full, which on this cello is sturdy and long enough, and the spike has a stop so it doesn’t fly out completely. Playing standing without any strap, it’s essential to have a sturdy spike.
It is still difficult when playing in thumb position and high up the finger board (lots in this show) so for these I bend my left knee and press it against the back of the cello to give something steady. I also hook it over my shoulder for moves across the stage, and do various bad postures, but as long as I always come back to a strong straight back throughout, it doesn’t hurt or give me a crick neck! I keep looking at the Bloch cello strap but in the shows I do, I need to swing the cello off me quickly and slickly, and have a mixture of sitting and standing and sideways cello playing. I have used a belt tight around my waist joined with another belt around the cello. This gave some traction so it was sturdier. But again slow to unhook and put aside. When you are constantly on stage in character there can be no clumsy movements. Well that’s my aim. I have tried many versions of straps in fact and am still investigating this for myself!
I’m also using an Arcus S8 bow, which is great for standing. (it’s in that photo above) I thought it might be too light initially, but it is much easier to handle on the cello than my other bows, and actually I discover whilst standing and playing light is better, as long as it has good grip. It’s a perfect show bow, clean long bowing, accurate. I’m going to do a video review of it actually, cause when I was looking at them after a colleague was raving, I couldn’t find one. If you’re in Cork, Dublin or Limerick you can catch me in The Nightengale and the Rose on these dates:
Only 3 shows left in Cork before the Nightingale takes flight to Dublin and Limerick!
Book today at the Everyman Cork
🌹The Civic, Dublin (23-24 Oct) | https://goo.gl/9B9CqN
🌹The Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick (27 Oct) | https://goo.gl/11rKns
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “Precise in every detail of performance, the production glows with a rich inventiveness of colour, surprise and allusion…” Irish Times
★ ★ ★ ★ It is unlike anything else I’ve seen on the opera stage to date. The storytelling is vivid, the spectacle is intriguing and the music is attractive.” Irish Examiner
Have a great day!!!
If you’re like me you’ll be eager to get started on a new party piece for those end of year events!
This week I have completed a new solo cello arrangement of Marriage d’Amour by Paul de Senneville. I am sure you will enjoy playing it. It is passionate and as one of my patrons said, “a strong swirling dance of life”
Speaking of patrons; each video release is being supported by patrons through https://www.patreon.com/ilse
If you would like to support me in making more music do have a look. When I make an arrangement you will be the first to receive it, and are encouraged to give suggestions about what pieces you would like arranged. I find this platform a good way for me to interact with fellow cellists who enjoy my music.
Video of Marriage d’Amour, as usual made in front of my famous Narnia cupboard… from inside it, inspiration flows.
Thank you for listening!
I am pleased to announce the release of my new cello book, Trad on Cello. There are twenty Irish traditional tunes including polkas, slides, jigs, reels, hornpipes and slip jigs, with a guide on how to play them.
I have enjoyed choosing great tunes that fit together in sets so that when you turn up for a session, you are fully equipped to dive straight in and feel good about your playing! It was a challenge to find the perfect keys for the cello for tunes that sit in first position only so there is no running up and down the fingerboard. It makes them really fun to play whatever grade. The second cello parts are also great for playing as a duo, and the chords are included so the tunes can be played with anyone who can read chords. They sound amazing with a group of cellists too, as my friend said “like a big lumbering beast” (I hope that’s good!)
The introduction and chapter information is detailed and interesting for anyone who wants to have a little more guidance and get a brief background info on the tunes.
For teachers looking for something a little different to inspire students post exams, these are a perfect antidote to the earnestness of exam preparations.
I made a video of one of the reels to give an idea of what is in store for you and I hope to see other videos from cellists playing these tunes too!
Very excited to be playing with Ian Date at the launch of the Mid-May Arts Festival on Friday 15 May 2015 at 7.30
The evening, compered by Dr. Lorcan Byrne will celebrate arts in the Midleton and surrounds community, including poetry with Paul Casey and Julie Goo, a short film on Seamus Heany by Sean Monaghan, two award winning shorts Stolen by Yvonne Keane and The Handsome Shadows by Mark Cogan.
The final hour Ian Date and I will present The Intimate Hour, a powerful mix of blues, classical and jazz from various countries and influences. Ian Date on guitar, trumpet and vocals, is a virtuosic guitarist from Australia and has just finished recording an album with Tommy Emmanuel. This concert promises to be sparkling with virtuosity and beauty!
The whole evening will be a vibrant and entertaining celebration of local excellence.
For more info visit www.midletonmidmayfestival.ie
Ian Date, guitar, trumpet, vocals.
Mid-May Arts Festival Launch
Friday, May 15, 2015
Jameson Distillery (map)
The Mid-May Arts Festival is proud to present "Taste of the Arts" to launch the festival on Friday 15 May 2015 at 7.30
The evening, compered by Dr. Lorcan Byrne will celebrate arts in the Midleton community, including poetry with Paul Casey and Julie Goo, a short film on Seamus Heany by Sean Monaghan, two award winning shorts Stolen by Yvonne Keane and The Handsome Shadows by Mark Cogan.
The final hour will be "The Intimate Hour", with Ilse de Ziah cello, and Ian Date guitar, trumpet, vocals, performing a powerful mix of blues, classical and jazz from various countries and influences. Ian is a virtuosic guitarist from Australia and has just finished recording an album with Tommy Emmanuel. This concert promises a virtuosic and beautiful performance from these world class musicians.
A vibrant and entertaining evening celebrating local excellence.
For more info visit www.midletonmidmayfestival.ie
If you are around sunny Cork on Monday 7th April, please come and hear my Masters recital at the Cork School of Music. Get an early start to summer with passionate pieces from warmer times and climes! Below you can read about each piece from my programme notes. Have a listen to versions on youtube etc if you can't make it. The music is well worth a listen if you don't know all these pieces!
Masters Recital Series
Monday, April 7, 2014, 1.10pm
Curtis Auditorium, CIT Cork School of Music
Ilse de Ziah, cello
Michael Joyce, piano
Suite Populaire Espangnol Manuel da Falla (1876-1946)
Allegro Vivace, Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 2 in F maj. Op. 99
Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
Pappilon Op. 77 and Elégie Op. 24 Gabriel Fauré (1845 – 1924)
Pampeana No. 2 Alberto Ginastera (1916 – 1983)
Suite Populaire Espangnol, Manuel da Falla (1876-1946)
Perhaps more than any other composer, Manuel de Falla expresses the sol (sunshine) and sombra (shadow) of Spain. His music is born of the folk idioms of his native Andalusia which is influenced by the history of Moors and gypsies. Just before Manuel de Falla left Paris to return to Spain in 1914, he completed his harmonizations of Siete Canciones Populares Españoles for voice and piano using natural overtones to accompany the melody notes rather than traditional modal scales. Violinist Paul Kochanski (1887-1934) worked with Falla to transcribe six of the songs for violin and piano. Kochanski's work was entitled Suite Populaire Espagnole. In 1925 Maurice Maréchal transcribed these for cello.The suite begins with El Paño Moruno (The Moorish Cloth). The next songs, Nana (a lullaby) and Canción, are both based on popular published tunes. Polo is an original Falla piece in the style of a folk dance, sometimes described as gypsy- or flamenco-like. The most famous of the songs by far is Asturiana, a lament from northern Spain, played on muted strings. The final Jota is again Falla's own work in the style of folk dance music from Aragon; for this song Kochanski uses pizzicato chords as if to imitate castanets.
Allegro Vivace, Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 99, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Brahms spent the summer of 1886 in the idyllic Swiss resort town of Thun. He rented the second floor of a hillside house on the Aare River, and spent much of the summer at a local casino, drinking beer and playing cards with musicians from the house orchestra. He wrote happily to his friend Max Kalbeck, “It is simply glorious here. I only say quite in passing that there are crowds of beer-gardens, actual beer-gardens, the English are not at home in them!”
The F major Cello Sonata was composed for Robert Hausmann, a close friend of Brahms and cellist of the great Joachim String Quartet.
The Sonata unfolds with a bristling energy, with a jolting explosion in the piano answered by a triumphant cry from the cello. The opening Allegro Vivace’s central theme comprises these shouting fragments, rather than a continuous melodic line. Remarking on its unusual rhythms and bold melodic leaps, Schoenberg would later write: “Young listeners will probably be unaware that at the time of Brahms’s death, this Sonata was still very unpopular and was considered indigestible”. The movement’s harmony is similarly insolent, handily integrating dissonant tones, and flirting with minor key tonality throughout the exposition.
Pappilon Op. 77, Gabriel Fauré (1845 – 1924)
Composed in Summer 1884 and published in the same year. It came about at the request of the publisher, Hamelle, who sought a companion piece for the Elégie;
Elégie Op. 24, Gabriel Fauré (1845 – 1924)
Élegie belongs to the notable group of small scale works which Fauré wrote for the cello. He had the gift of imbuing these miniature pieces with a classic beauty in which calmness and intensity are perfectly counterbalanced.
The music of Élegie was originally written for cello and piano in 1883, and, as often with Fauré’s pieces, was only later orchestrated.
Élegie has always been a popular work, for its elegance and poise, along with its underlying passion, made an immediate appeal, and its is not surprising to find that the organist at Fauré’s funeral in 1924 chose to honour the composer’s memory by playing an improvisation on it.
Pampeana No. 2, Alberto Ginastera (1916 – 1983)
The Rhapsody for Cello and Piano was completed in 1950 and belongs to Ginastera’s Subjective Nationalism period (1948-58). The influence of folk-music on his works during this period becomes more symbolic. Ginastera says… “without using any folkloric material, it recalls the rhythms and melodic trends of the Argentine pampas…
Whenever I have crossed the pampas, my spirit felt itself inundated by changing impressions, now joyful, now melancholy, produced by its limitless immensity and by the transformation that the countryside undergoes in the course of the day . . . from my first contact, I desired to write a work reflecting these states of my spirit.”
Composed in four sections the Pampeana No. 2 captures the full scope of these moods and feelings through rhapsodic fantasy.
Last night performing on Baroque cello with The CSM Baroque Strings for a lovely final Masters concert of Countertenor Graham J. Norton. It was wonderful to work with Jory Vinikour who directed and played harpsichord. Also soprano Laura Gilsenan sang beautifully a couple of duos including the gorgeous Monteverdi, Pur ti mio. We also played a Handel Concerto, Vivaldi: Longe Mala umbrae Terrores, Handel: Vo far guerra And Cara Sposa and Monteverdi: L’incoronatione di Poppea
I played the Cork School of Music baroque cello as my own bought online from China is not brilliant! I was playing a beautiful very old borrowed one for a few years and miss its sweet sound. The CSM one started to sound ok after playing it a few days, but as always with gut strings and Baroque cello, it’s really hard to play in tune! You can’t relax concentration for even a split second or the finger hits out of tune. I find the best way to approach it is keeping arms low and relaxed, the body as grounded as possible, and snapping fingers down crisply where possible. Also keeping the left arm very light in shifts as the thick strings can make shifts tricky.
And then of course playing musically, listening, following…
I have been enjoying composing the soundtracks of creative videos for ESA. (European Space Agency) Maarten Roos did a beautiful job of the films!
Gaia is ESA's billion-star surveyor, designed to provide a precise 3D map of our Milky Way galaxy in order to understand its composition, formation and evolution.
Earth's magnetic field is our life saver, protecting us from the energetic solar wind. The Swarm satellites will measure Earth's magnetic field to allow us to understand it for a safer future.
A reflection on ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano's five-month mission to the International Space Station between May and November 2013.
We have just released a full 5 minute taster of the air "A Stór mo Chroí" on Youtube and VIMEO. We are still in need of some support for the final stages of the editing and post-production and if you like what we do, consider leaving a tip in the Tip Jar here www.vimeo.com/lightcurvefilms/astormochroibythesea
We also performed the first pilot version of the Living the tradition live-documentary on Thursday, which is Arthurs day, a Guinness celebration in Ireland. Guinness showcased 20 acts around Ireland and our projects was chosen to be one of them. We plan to tour it next year.
We are very excited about the progress of the film!
I composed and played the music for a scary slasher short film for egomotion pictures. It's on the short list for the Blood Games Short Film Competition. Watch and you'll never be able to listen to twinkle twinkle in the same way!
This is the poster…
Go and vote for it!!
I was doing a music video shoot a couple of weeks ago for a duo piece by the wonderful composer and flute player Katrina Emtage who wrote "Wind on Waves" for cello and bass flute. It was made by award winning producer Shaun O'Connor. (some great photos from the shoot are on his site)
The amazing outfits were made by designer Lisa Zagone. As I sat there being filmed it struck me in such a dress I was an embodiment of the Augustus John painting of Portugese cellist Guilhermina Suggia so I asked Shaun to take a photo of me to recreate the image.
photo by Shaun O'Connor
I'm looking forward to seeing the end product of the shoot. Part of it I was lying in a pool of icy water, of course it was the coldest day of the year despite winter being officially over… and there was no hot water in the taps. I can tell you it was agony for arts sake…