10 Questions with | Clíodhna Ní Aodáin
Award-winning Irish cellist, Clíodhna Ní Aodáin, who gained immense popularity through her successful albums "The Celtic Cello" and "Celtic Rituals", will soon be presenting her new and inspiring single, "Full Circle - Cellos for Trees". Cellos for Trees is a call to action to plant 10,000 trees, initiated by Clíodhna Ní Aodáin, founder of The Celtic Cello, and Brenda Neece, founder of The Cello Museum. Their vision is to invite cellists from all over the world to participate in creating a beautiful music video project. With the track “Full Circle – Cellos for Trees” set to be released on Earth Day 2023, Clíodhna encourages her listeners to renew their appreciation of our precious earth. Indie Boulevard reached out to Clíodhna and delved deeper into the intricacies of her ambitious project, touching upon a broad range of subjects that included climate change, nature, and many more.
IB: Hello Clíodhna, it's a pleasure to have you here on Indie Boulevard, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to discuss your new single, the remarkable tree initiative, and the broader issue of climate change. Your previous albums, "The Celtic Cello" and "Celtic Rituals," have been very successful. How has your style and approach to music evolved over the years, and what can listeners expect from your upcoming single "Full Circle - Cellos for Trees"?
Clíodhna: I am delighted to meet you! My first album “The Celtic Cello” was an hommage to the songs of my childhood in Ireland. All the great tunes like “The Last Rose of Summer”, “Down by the Salley Gardens” and “She moved through the Fair” are there. My second album, “Celtic Rituals” was a creative act born out of the pandemic. On this album I became more connected to the calling of my inner musical guide and created music directly from my heart. While the compositions are original they remain strongly influenced by the tonalities and expressive depth of the Celtic music tradition. “Full Circle - Cellos for Trees” grows a musical tree from the seed to the roots to the trunk to the crown. Listeners will hear the magnificence of the tree as it grows. As the lyrical melodies build, the compelling groove drives deeper into the ground to support the glory of the tree as it emerges.
IB: Your latest single, "Full Circle - Cellos for Trees," is an inspiring call to action to plant 10,000 trees, and involves cellists from all over the world participating in a music video project. Can you tell us more about how this idea came about?
Clíodhna: I am lucky to live near a small forest in Switzerland. During the pandemic I walked there daily and noticed how being amongst the trees had a positive impact on my well-being. I was inspired by the resilience of these wonderful beings and thought about all that they had weathered and overcome. When “The Cello Museum” asked me to be part of a project to raise money for a charity of my choice, I immediately knew that I wanted to include trees in this vision.
IB: Can you tell us about the process of composing a multi-track cello piece for "Full Circle - Cellos for Trees"? How did you decide on the different parts for beginner, intermediate, advanced, and professional cellists?
Clíodhna: This is exactly how it happened: I was hanging up my laundry in the basement and I started singing a tune. I had a visceral knowing that this was the beginning of something. I dropped everything and ran up the stairs to get my phone so that I could record this seed idea. Then I went to the piano and worked out possible harmonies that became the roots of the piece, recording as it emerged. After that it grew very quickly. Much quicker than real tree! I used my Loop station to layer the multi-tracks. The parts for beginner, intermediate, advanced and professional cellists were created with members of my online Celtic Cello Club in mind. I accomodate all levels of cello players and I wanted something that was accessible to everyone. 30 years of teaching experience was a huge help in this creative process.
IB: The music video for "Full Circle - Cellos for Trees" will feature cellists from all over the world playing under their favorite trees. This is a brilliant idea! How did you and Brenda Neece, founder of The Cello Museum, come up with this concept, and what impact do you hope it will have on your listeners?
Clíodhna: Brenda Neece from The Cello Museum previously created a beautiful video of more than 200 cellists playing the Ukranian national anthem. She is a member of The Celtic Cello Club and asked me to lead a project featuring Celtic music. Because many of my solo videos are made outdoors under a tree, it was an easy step for us to come up with the idea of cellists from all over the world playing under their favourite tree for the “Cellos for Tress” project.
IB: The early Celtic people had a deep reverence for nature, which seems to be reflected in your music. How do you think we can reconnect with this sense of reverence and respect for the natural world in our modern culture?
Clíodhna: This is a great question and I wish I knew the answer. I think it is a mindset shift. Maybe if we change the language we use from “THE environment” and “THE climate” to “OUR environment” and "OUR climate”. we will feel more connected. We need to remember that we a part of nature and nature is a part of us. We literally cannot survive without trees. They give us the air we breathe.
IB: Your music is often described as evoking a sense of the Otherworld. What does the Otherworld mean to you, and how does it influence your creative process?
Clíodhna: The Otherworld is very present in the ancient Celtic culture. Many of us have had moments of grace and moments of feeling guided by something greater than ourselves. For me, the Otherworld is available to us all. It is there when we close our eyes and take a moment to become aware of our breath. From this inner awareness we can expand our consciousness to become aware of the energy that connects us all, across the earth, through time and space.
IB: Your music often combines traditional Celtic styles with contemporary and improvised elements. How do you approach blending these different genres, and what do you hope to convey through your music?
Clíodhna: I become present and follow my heart, trusting that the music that flows is exactly the music that needs to be played in that moment. I hope to convey a sense of peace and beauty with my music, giving my listeners a space to breathe, to be and to become present.
IB: As someone who is passionate about environmental regeneration, what advice would you give to people who want to make a positive impact on the planet but aren't sure where to start?
Clíodhna: Donate to the “Cellos for Trees” project! Plant a tree in your garden. Eat food from farms that produce organically or even regeneratively. Carry a reusable shopping bag. Support farmers markets in your area. Eat seasonal food. Cook fresh food for yourself as much as possible. Only eat meat once a week. Be optimistic that together we make it!
IB: How do you see the role of art and music in promoting social and environmental change?
Clíodhna: Artists have often been in the role of promoting social and environmental change. If you have a platform, use it! If you have a cause, write a song about it! Art and music can move people to take action where endless political speeches have failed.
IB: And the final question. What message would you like to send to your fans and listeners about the importance of taking action for the environment and how they can get involved in the "Cellos for Trees" project?
Clíodhna: If you are a cellist, please participate in the “Cellos for Trees” project. I have the perfect part for you! If you are a tree or a cello lover, please donate to the project and share it wherever you can. This is your chance to help create beauty in the world and to inspire others to do the same. Thank you.
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