Award-winning Irish cellist Clíodhna Ní Aodáin is calling for action- to plant 10,000 trees- with her inspired single Full Circle – Cellos for Trees.
Clíodhna Ní Aodáin, from Malahide in Dublin, is the revered cellist of the albums The Celtic Cello” and “Celtic Rituals.
Cellos for Trees was initiated by Clíodhna Ní Aodáin with Brenda Neece, founder of The Cello Museum.
They are inviting cellists from all over the world to participate in creating a music video project.
Clíodhna has composed a multi-track cello piece with a part for every cellists of all abilities who are asked to make a video of themselves playing under their favourite tree.
The final video will combine these images to create a virtual forest of cellos and trees.
Clíodhna told The Irish World: “I have a Celtic Cello club online and one of the members is the founder of the Cello Museum and she asked me would I like to do something.
“I said, ‘Amazing. Yes, of course and I’d love to do something for trees’.
“Because the album that I’m recording at the moment is all about tress so that’s kind of my thing at the moment.
“She said, ‘Great’.
“And then I took it from there and I looked into different organisations that plant trees.
“I like very much One Tree Planted and then for Ireland there’s an organisation called Reforest Nation.
“So I thought, ‘10,000 trees, let’s see what we can do with that’.
“I thought, ‘I’ll do 5,000 in Ireland and 5,000 globally wherever trees are needed the most’.
“That was the idea. I wrote a piece for multi- track cello.
“Because I teach all different levels and ages, I know what’s possible in every level so I wanted something that literally someone who had only taken up the cello last week could do but I always wanted something to interest intermediate, advanced, professional players and this piece just kind of emerged.
“I had another piece in mind that I had composed different style altogether and then I was hanging up my washing and I started to sing this tune.
“It was like a seed idea that came through and I thought, ‘There’s something here now’.
“Dropped everything, ran to get the cello and played the first idea out and so that became the seed idea.”
While talking to us on zoom, Clíodhna takes her cello to play the different parts as she goes through them.
“And then the roots, a beginner could play that part.
“And then the trunk.
“And I just started to grow this tree musically. Then I got branches, I got leaves, I got the crown, I got fruit.
“I got 12 different parts.
“Sometimes when you’re in the creative space you just get an idea and if you don’t go with it, it will be gone so I was like, ‘Okay, laundry: Forget it. Ditch the washing, let’s go back to the cello’.
“So that’s where the music came from.
“How it grew was just literally a moment in time.”
It was in the pandemic that trees really gave Clíodhna a lot of ‘solace’.
“We have a little forest near where we live and in the lockdown I spent a lot of time walking in the trees and it was solace to me so I feel I made a different connection by being in nature daily so that’s how that whole idea for my connection to trees evolved from.
“There was a new appreciation because we were all so busy in our lives, we didn’t stop and then you just see, ‘Oh my goodness. This is on my doorstep and I don’t go in’.
“And then also the resilience of the trees, they’ve been there for 100, 200 years and they have weathered storms so in the thick of the pandemic when nobody knew what was going on, ‘It’s okay, there’s going to be a way through this, we will get through this’.
“And that was a message I definitely strongly got from the trees.”
Clíodhna thinks artists can use their profile to spread important messages such as about the environment.
“I think we have a platform and if we’re lucky enough to be in the position to use it for a good cause then that’s what I’m trying to model and I hope that other artists will have their own creative ideas.
“Who knows? I’m doing cellos for trees, there might be guitars for trees or drums for trees.
“It’s kind of a pioneer project to see what would happen.
“Of course, I’m hoping it would inspire other artists.”
Trees have inspired Clíodhna’s forthcoming album.
“I went to Birr Castle in Co. Offaly in October and the beautiful park there and I went and I played under lots of different trees to just sit under a tree with my cello and listen and think, ‘If the tree was able to sing to me, what would it sing?’ And then play what I imagined it might sing.
“That was really beautiful and interesting and I spent a couple of days there on my own going around with my stool and cello and going from tree to tree and that was really inspiring so I have from that, again, seed ideas.
“I’ll be going into the studio in June to record.”
It was a serious accident that gave Clíodhna the push to record her first album.
She says to anybody out there that wants to do something not to wait until they get such a bang on the head.
“Recording was something I kind of put off.
“I was busy with concerts and teaching and it wasn’t until I actually had an accident.
“The attic ladder in my parents’ house fell on my head and floored me.
“This was five years ago.
“It was Christmas time and it was terrible.
“They all heard a roar out of me and they found me on the floor.
“My son was four at the time and I was trying to hold it together for him.
“I was like, ‘I’m okay’.
“And he said, ‘But mam, you’re bleeding’.
And I just remember thinking, ‘Oh God, a head injury, what is this going to mean?’
“The first thought is, ‘Can I still be a mum?’ Second thought is. ‘Will I ever play the cello again?’
“You just don’t know what it’s going to do.
“My son was amazing and he held my hand looked into my eyes for 40 minutes until the doctor arrived and held me there literally and I was thinking, ‘Don’t go out, don’t go out’.
“That time was an eternity for him, it was an eternity for all of us and then the doctor came.
“Anyway, I recovered but I had a severe concussion.
“But in the recovery time I just thought, ‘If that was it, if my time was over, I couldn’t play again, my son would never know that I played the cello because there’s no documentation’.
“That was a real motivation for me to say, ‘Okay, it’s just for him’.
“I’m classically trained but I didn’t want to play the big concertos that I’d studied, I actually wanted to play the music of my heart, that I’d been missing my whole life which was the traditional Irish music, like She Moved through the Fair and Down by the Sally Gardens and The Last Rose of Summer, these melodies that everybody loves and I wanted to share that with him.
“That’s how that came about as a project so when I recovered, that’s when I launched the Celtic Cello which was my first album, then it became my brand and my business but if there’s a message to be had from this story it’s to not wait until you get hit in the head to do what you want to do because just like that, it could be over.
“We hang on a thread, all of us.
“It was such a shock to the system and all this great stuff came out of it.
“It was a wake up call really, ‘What are you doing? Are you doing what you want to be doing? Is there something else that you always said you would do and you’re not doing? Wake up and do it’.
“Don’t wait for the hit on the head.”
People can still get involved in the project.
“If you play the cello, you can help.
“If people think, ‘This is a great idea, I want to support it’, there’s also the opportunity to sponsor a cellist because we have low income cellists.
“I have 140 cellists and some very well known cellists as well which is very exciting. I just thought, ‘I’ll write to everybody and see what they say’. And they all said yes pretty much.
“So I have some amazing pro players and I have some beginner players so it’s a good mix.”
The finished video of a virtual forest of cellos will be published on 21 June.
You can get involved by clicking here.