We are Ilse de Ziah, cellist and composer from Ireland, and Maarten Roos, filmmaker from Portugal. Living the Tradition is our project for a music documentary in which we journey around Ireland searching for the origins of Irish Airs.

“Airs” are the name for slow songs and tunes from the Irish music tradition. These are often laments and tales of loss and longing, but also of dreaming and hope.

Music unites us, speaks to our common humanity and brings us together in a shared experience whatever our cultural background. Therefore, traditional music needs to be kept alive in the cultures from which it springs. It is a trend around the world that traditional music can be deemed irrelevant or is forgotten and dies out. It is important that the music is celebrated, explored and promoted and that artists add to the tradition to keep it alive and to become primary sources of it.

Ilse arranged and published a book Irish Airs for Solo Cello, which includes background information on ten Irish airs. She also recorded a CD of these airs. The histories of these melodies are rich with references to specific places, people and stories. When Maarten, who loves Irish music, especially the slow airs, found out about these, he immediately thought they would make great films.

Meet the Living the Tradition team:

Ilse de Ziah is a cellist, arranger and composer. She performs solo cello concerts, taking inspiration from the Irish and other landscapes to create a fresh, lyrical and emotional style of cello music. Ilse is principal cellist of the City of Cork Symphony Orchestra, and has been involved in theatre, folk music, free improvisation, and dance. She composes music for dance and film, plays for recording sessions, and arranges and composes solo cello music for her website playcellomusic.com. Her ensembles include the experimental Quiet Music Ensemble, her classical Scarlet String Quartet, and as musical director, the Cork Light Orchestra. She also plays Baroque Cello. Find out more on her website www.ilsedeziah.com.

Maarten Roos is a documentary filmmaker and a planetary scientist. He is also an amateur musician, playing piano and cello, and he loves Irish music. Maarten has made documentaries about science and technology, about human interest issues, craft beer in Japan and various independent documentaries about film, music and art. He holds two TV broadcast credits: the documentary Between Mars and Svalbard commissioned by Portuguese National TV channel RTP2 (2012) and Spiral Galaxy – the Milky Way unravelled, which was broadcast on Dutch TV channel Holland Doc (2009). His film Serene Universe, an inner journey into outer Space, is very popular on Amazon Video. On the Lightcurve Films website you can find his full portfolio.

Ian Date is an artistic advisor, musician and website developer based in Cork. Ian has played all over the world, has made numerous, television radio, festival and concert hall performances and is regarded as one of Australia’s great guitar players. He runs this website. See more about his work at www.iandate.com.

Donncha Moynihan is an audio engineer from Cork. He recorded and mixed the Irish Airs for Solo Cello CD and engineered the music tracks on Living the Tradition.

Pedro Daniel is a graphic designer from Portugal. With an experience of over 15 years, he has been working freelance since 2001 for a wide range of clients, from Pharmaceutical companies to musicians, health clubs, law firms, and more. For Living the Tradition Pedro has looked after the design of all the graphical art work. See his website at pedrodanieldesign.com.



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Inch Strand, County Cork, Ireland, one of the film sites