Ilse de Ziah – Transcendence
The new recording ‘Transcendence’ by Ilse de Ziah features rich and dark cello performances of music inspired by religious and spiritual traditions of old Ireland. From the stark, intensely sad ‘Caoine for a Dead Child’ and the entrancing, meditative ‘Fair Churchyard of Creggan’, to the joy of ‘Queen of the May’, the music ranges from deeply introspective to sublimely uplifting.
“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 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.”