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Sharing the stories that made the music

Cellist Ilse De Ziah… clearly loves performing and sharing her music. Photo: Peter Hislop

Music / Living The Tradition, Ilse De Ziah, cello and Ian Date, guitarist. At the National Film and Sound Archive, February 21. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

For an emotional journey through traditional Irish music, cellist Ilse De Ziah first presented a screening of the film she made with Maarten Roose called Living The Tradition: An Enchanting Journey Through Old Irish Airs. 

The film, a documentary, shows Ilse’s search around Ireland for the background and locations of many traditional Irish tunes and their composers. 

Along the way, she meets with composers, scholars and local characters who help to provide a deeper understanding of the roots of this emotionally charged music.

Dynamic, colourful, lush and romantic, the country’s history and politics are never far away in these tunes. Beautifully filmed, the atmospheric and unique scenery of Ireland, coupled with the country’s traditional music, make this a memorable journey.

Taking the stage after the film, De Ziah with her cello and Ian Date, guitarist, entertained with a selection of music from their debut album, Here & There.

De Ziah is a cellist and composer famous for her cross-genre style. She has worked across contemporary, classical, rock ‘n’ roll, traditional Irish, jazz and experimental music. As a cellist, De Ziah is known for her daring and emotionally charged performances which connect at a deep level with people from all walks of life.

Guitarist Ian Date performs with cellist Ilse De Ziah at NFSA. Photo: Peter Hislop

Date is regarded as one of Australia’s great guitarists. Known for his lyrical, inventive style and virtuosity, he has performed extensively as a jazz musician since the 1990s.

Presenting nine of the songs from their album, the pair displayed their virtuosity, individually and together. They began with The Ambush, a work inspired by the history of a place where they had lived in Ireland. It was a dynamic piece that combined chaos, emotion and melody and displayed their skill at working harmoniously together. 

Other works were inspired by music from Mexico and Argentina as well as other Irish stories and melodies.

Their performance made an immediate connection with the audience. De Ziah clearly loves performing and sharing her music. Constantly smiling, her relaxed rapport with Date and the audience was very appealing.

Both performers presented the audience with fascinating detail of the origins of each tune. Date’s personal interaction with the audience was also very down-to-earth, easily showing his enjoyment in playing this music.

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