The Celtic Cello is the creation of Clíodhna Ní Aodáin. Her one woman show has the feel of both a grand theatrical performance and a visit with a cherished friend. Drawing her audience in with the low hum and cadence of a drone, she layers tone upon tone, from slow and sombre to joyous jigs.
The cello is the sound of her soul. Her feet pedal the looper, her body wraps the cello, at times playing it like a drum, expressing every note; even the wisps of her long golden hair sway in time. It’s a dance of being. Of life.
Clíodhna is a playful spirit. Maybe even mischievous. Her voice, too, is enchanting -- from vocalisations, to chants, songs and stories spoken in the soft accent of her own native Dublin. She calls upon the audience to join in the music-making with simple chants and body percussion. Flocks of birds have been known to lend their voices to her soundscapes.
Audiences are transfixed, refreshed and uplifted; and describe it as a ‘transformative experience.’ Indeed it is so, when instead of feeling the roar of a standing ovation, your spirit is awakened to the unmistakable sound of a thousand trees rustling their leaves in sustained applause.
Calling through the mists of time, in the language of the ancient Celts, her very name — Clíodhna Ní Aodáin (pronounced “CLEE-uh-na Nee AY-dawn”) — is a tribute to Ireland’s Goddess of Love and Beauty. It is a story unto itself -- one of the many she shares about the mythologies of Ireland and Scotland.
Combining the traditional melodies of Ireland and Scotland with harmonies that speak of a more classical heritage, Clíodhna brings together tunes that all have stories to tell — stories of love, separation, nature and the cycle of life.
The cello is a rare gem in traditional Irish music, and Clíodhna is one of its champions. Her playing is inspired by the voices of the sean-nós (old style) singers of Ireland.
She plays the cello with the same melodic grace notes and ornamentation as the traditional instrumentalists and singers, themselves said to echo the sounds of nature. She is further inspired by one of the leading figures in the traditional music of Ireland — her mentor, legendary fiddler Martin Hayes.
Trained as a classical musician, Clíodhna Ní Aodáin has hit the high notes in the classical world. She is a solo performer, a passionate and compassionate teacher, a composer and a conductor of two orchestras in Bern, Switzerland, where she now resides. Following a life changing accident in 2017, she dedicated herself to the music of her heart -- traditional Irish music.
In 2018, Clíodhna performed The Celtic Cello for the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and received his blessing to use his poem “The Prophets are Weeping” to create a piece of music. In 2019 she conducted 180 musicians for an Irish music concert “In Search of a Better Life” -- which told the story of Irish emigrants, and highlighted the plight of refugees today. In 2021, she won the Robinson Emerging Artist Showcase, with an invitation to play at the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival in Canada in 2022. September 2022 saw the premiere of “The Westerly Edge” in Bern, a collaboration between and Irish fiddler Martin Hayes and Clíodhna Ní Aodáin. The Westerly Edge is a Suite for Irish Fiddle and Chamber Orchestra. Clíodhna wrote all the arrangements, conducted and played the solo cello part.
Called “Endlessly stimulating” by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (Ireland’s national broadcaster), Clíodhna’s music has been well-received on radio internationally. She has released two albums — The Celtic Cello (2018), Celtic Rituals (2021), and is working on an upcoming third album.