Celtic Cello Workshop with Ilse de Ziah

Eugene, USA

September 23 – 25

Friday Night: Early evening Meet & Greet,

Saturday: 10 – 4 workshop, 7pm concert, followed by workshop participants Cello Ensemble

Sunday: 10 – 4 workshop


Cello Club

If you cannot make the workshop and are interested in taking part in developing your cello playing in a supportive and fun way and would like to be part of a wonderful community of past retreaters and new cellists, come along and try my online Cello Club. There are many hours of lessons, warmups, a library and a live lesson alternating with a live Zoom hang/session every Sunday. 



Learn Irish Music by the Sea with Ilse de Ziah

PLUS two new workshops running during the same week! Irish Guitar Retreat with Frank Kilkelly and Irish Fiddle Retreat with Laura Ugur Three retreats, with opportunity to join each other for triple the fun and triple the learning! More information on those retreats coming soon. Spaces limited to 10 each retreat, so inquire soon to register your interest.

Are you ready to spend quality time with your cello in a peaceful Irish setting and take your cello playing to the next level with new tunes and skills, in a fun and supportive environment?

Come and join me for a unique once in a lifetime experience in a beautiful location in County Cork, Ireland.

The Irish Cello Retreat, held in the peaceful East Cork setting of Garryvoe is for you, the cellist, to learn how to play Irish music to build on your technique and expand your repertoire. Irish music is a fantastic way to super charge your learning while having fun. The Irish Cello Retreat will give you a chance to learn new fast tunes, gorgeous deep and emotional Slow Airs and ancient melodies. We finish the retreat with a short performance of the music we work on, followed by a wild traditional Irish session.

The music packed days will be hosted in the four star Garryvoe Hotel, in a light room with great acoustics and a view of the sea. It’s the perfect environment to soak up the lessons, share ideas and get inspired. We’ll be lunching and dining together in the beautiful Garryvoe Hotel Restaurant and Lighthouse Bistro, and 2 nights heading to local traditional sessions.

On the last night we will celebrate after the delicious dinner with a traditional Irish session in the Garryvoe Library.

To help you prepare once you have booked we will have a video session (Skype/Zoom) where you play for me and we discuss any issues and aims you have for the retreat. Bonus online material will also be sent to you so you can start playing right away.

Amateur and professional players welcome. All levels of players can be accommodated! Email if you have any questions.

Have a look at the highlights and details from 2019


Join the Irish Cello Retreat!

For payment options choose from dropdown below and press Add to Cart. Options include one of the following;

“One Participant” – Your own booking for the retreat includes all tuition, a beautiful private room, all meals (4 dinners, 4 lunches, 4 breakfasts) €1045

“Participant plus partner” – select this option for yourself plus bring a (non-participating) partner who shares your room and enjoys all meals with the group and trips to sessions (4 dinners, 4 lunches, 4 breakfasts) €1345

“Participant’s Friend” – select the third option (can only be added after you have paid for either of the first two); invite a (non-participating) friend to enjoy the holiday in their own room including breakfasts and dinners! (lunch not included as they will probably be visiting the sights!) €420

EMAIL me to discuss payment methods and any other questions.

Retreat details will be updated soon with the guitar and fiddle retreat!


What is the Irish Cello Retreat all about?

It’s about being in a supportive and relaxed environment to learn fun traditional tunes whilst developing technique, style and your unique way to express yourself through the music.

Improved Technique
Slides, Polkas, Jigs and Reels – Learning stylistic features of Irish music whilst developing a loose, flexible and effortless right hand and arm, and fast left hand fingers. Get loose and fast.

Slow Airs
Help to develop tone production and deepen expression

Progress your Playing
The workshops are an enjoyable way to work on your technique and will benefit pieces you already play in an effective and powerful way. 

Build Repertoire
To feed your passion for the instrument, and keep your playing fresh it is important to keep expanding your repertoire and styles of playing. Explore!

Adding new styles and techniques to your playing helps expand and express your ideas and feelings through the cello. Be inspired with new ideas to create your own arrangements.


The Workshops


Workshop 1 – Polkas & Slides

This is all about getting some great tunes by memory and working them up to speed. We work on loosening up the right hand and speeding up the left hand with practice tips and new ways of looking at technique.

Workshop 2 – Master the tunes

Here you will get more tips and direction with a look at playing more tunes. We will also work on the tunes we learned in the morning to help develop the authentic Irish flavour through bowing styles and ornamentation.

Workshop 3 – Slow Airs

The gentle art of playing slow airs is all about being free enough in yourself to express a deep emotion. We will look at ways to make your slow playing come alive and you will learn ways to find a great tone and develop your own unique ‘voice’ on the cello.

Workshop 4 – Arranging a Slow Air and a Reel

In this session we will be working with slow airs. You will learn how to create your own arrangements with embellishment, variation, drones, experimental techniques and rhythmic ideas. We will also work on a great fast reel!

Workshop 5 – Accompanying Fast Tunes

Here we learn how to accompany Irish music using drones, rhythms, chord shapes, pizzicato and chopping. We learn the art of ensemble playing, how to get a great rhythm going, and how to expand these techniques. We will work as duos and trios to create pieces to perform.

Workshop 6 – Putting it all together with Frank Kilkelly

Enjoy working with the master Irish guitarist Frank Kilkelly who will work with us with rhythm accompaniments and bring our fast tunes together to create ‘sets’ to be session ready. We look at how to start and how to end tunes and what is needed to let others know what you intend during a session. Frank will also accompany us for the session in the evening. He’s a great player and teacher. Check out his website! We will be session ready for the evenings performance!

This Retreat Is Your Next Step

If you’ve studied my online course or lessons or worked through my Irish music books ‘Trad on Cello’, ‘Irish Airs for Solo Cello’, ‘Easy Irish Cello’ or my other sheet music, or ever dreamed of exploring Irish music, then coming to learn with me in Ireland is the next step to focus on your playing in a secluded environment with no distractions. This is a chance for you to benefit from some tailor made and personalized instruction and play with other like-minded cellists.

Let’s Talk!
When you enroll we will arrange a Skype consultation where we can chat with you and your cello, and assess where you’re at and where you want to go with your cello playing.
I’ll then know exactly what we’ll be working on together at the retreat to maximise your results during the retreat and beyond.

Session Ready
The last night of the retreat we will play in a live session. This will be a great opportunity to show off your new found skills and confidence as a trad cellist! A great final night party for all to enjoy!

Sessions in Garryvoe Library, Wallis’ Bar Midleton and with Matt Cranitch in the workshop room.

The Daily Schedule


Afternoon – Check in is from 4.30

6.30pm Meet and Chat in the Library

7.30pm Supper


7.30am – 9.30am Breakfast in Hotel

10.00am Workshop #1 Polkas and Slides

1.00pm Lunch

2pm Workshop #2 Master the Tunes

7.00pm Dinner

9.00pm Trad Session


7.30am – 9.30am Breakfast in Hotel

10am Workshop #3 Slow Airs

1.00pm Lunch

2.00pm Workshop #4 Arranging Slow Airs and A Reel!

9.00pm Trad Session 


7.30am – 9.30am Breakfast in Hotel

10.00am Workshop #5 Accompanying Fast Tunes

12.30pm Lunch

2.00pm Workshop #6 Putting it All Together

6.30pm Final Group Dinner

9.00pm Trad Session in Garryvoe Hotel Library


7.30am – 9.30am Breakfast in Hotel

Private lessons in Garryvoe Hotel can be arranged separately. Email me to book your private session time for Friday (or Monday if you are not around Friday)


The Location TBC: (past retreats; Garryvoe Hotel, East Cork)

East Cork is a great place to visit on a trip to Ireland, with plenty to do and see.

Garryvoe Hotel is a family-owned, independent four star hotel in East Cork. The modern rooms are beautiful, with sea views in most, and the the staff are very friendly and welcoming. Down at Garryvoe Hotel you will experience a peaceful beachside setting to bring clarity to your mind and body. In your spare time you can walk along the sandy five-mile beach, enjoy the Health Club and Swimming Pool, and dine on delicious food.

photo: Kevin Dwyer

What is included?

  • Five Irish Cello Workshops with Ilse de Ziah
  • One Workshop with a guest traditional Master
  •  Accommodation at Garryvoe Hotel
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Evening Meals
  • Three traditional Irish Sessions
  • Post-course access to any recordings and videos of workshops for private reminder of what you learn
  • Health Club and Swimming Pool

Plus Bonus Material

  • Access to Play Cello Music School “Irish Airs for Solo Cello” Course – value €79.00
  • Link to my award winning Irish music film “Living the Tradition”, an enchanting journey into old Irish Airs
  • Downloadable music including Sacred Irish Music for Solo Cello, Trad on Cello, College Groves, Tam Lin, Irish Airs for Solo Cello, and Easy Irish Cello – value €100.00

Meet Ilse de Ziah!

For over seventeen years, Ilse has been developing a repertoire for Irish cello, creating a modern Irish style with strong connections to the past. Her research into Irish Slow Airs was developed into an award winning Irish music film “Living the Tradition”, an enchanting journey into old Irish Airs.

She is a passionate instructor and has run many workshops for cellists and other string players over the years. She teaches Chamber Music at University College Cork, conducts the Cork Light Orchestra, plays contemporary ‘deep listening’ music with the Quiet Music Ensemble, works in theatre and plays cello in many different styles, from Irish, Jazz, Rock & Roll to Classical.

In between her busy schedule of performing and conducting, she publishes her solo cello compositions and arrangements on Play Cello Music and is a Signature Artist on Musicnotes

Ilse says “I saw a need for quality solo pieces that are challenging but not impossible, sound great, and develop technique but are not studies. I aim to help students improve through playing music they love, to develop technique, style and confidence.”

“de Ziah is not only an extremely talented cellist, but arranger of great skill as well….Throughout it is obvious to hear, not only her skill, but her passion.” – Thelma Harris, Goldenplec.com

“I could imagine her heart embracing not only the instrument, but also the spirit of the music itself.” – RJ Lannan, tradconnect

Final evening session in Garryvoe Library


Have any Questions?


Irish Cello Retreat Registration and Checklist

YES, I understand spaces are limited so it’s important I act now before registration closes!

 YES, I understand Irish Cello Retreat includes one (1) place on the Garryvoe, Ireland 2021 retreat.

 YES, I’m ready to take action and learn Irish music by the sea in Ireland!

 YES, I want to join like minded cellists to achieve new skills and have fun!


Your Irish Cello Bonuses!

To prepare you for the Irish Cello Retreat, we are offering a bonus package to get you going on Irish music on the cello!

Bonus #1 Trad on Cello

Ilse’s book of traditional Irish tunes with a guide on how to play them and also including second cello parts.

Bonus #2 Irish Airs for Solo Cello

Ilse’s book of ten Irish Airs for Solo Cello and CD. Ten beautiful Airs with lots of challenges to work on!

Bonus #3 Easy Irish Cello

26 Beautiful Irish tunes

Bonus #4 Living the Tradition online link

Ilse’s film following her around Ireland as she searches for the origins of ten Irish Airs, from her book Irish Airs for Solo Cello. 

Bonus #5 Access to Play Cello Music School

You will have lifetime access to Ilse’s course Irish Airs for Solo Cello, featuring 31 video lessons for the ten Irish Airs from her book Irish Airs for Solo Cello.

Bonus #6 Irish Tunes for the Workshop

Before you get to the workshop you will be sent material to work on to get a head start on the tunes. We will mostly be working away from the sheet music during the three days, so you get a chance to look at some of the tunes and be ready to get them flying during the workshop!


For fast-action takers who sign up early, get two One-on-One online Coaching Sessions With Ilse – value €100

We’ll use our first coaching session before the retreat to find out your individual needs and help you with pointers to get ready for your Irish cello adventure. Then sometime after the Irish Cello Retreat we’ll follow up together with a session to help ensure that you’re really able to implement everything we learned together.

Bring Your Partner Along!

Why not treat the one you love and bring them along to enjoy the peaceful setting, the craic in the evenings, and soak up the Irish atmosphere? Choose the Partner Package which includes all group meals (breakfasts, lunches, dinners). Email me to add your partner on at a later date if you want to quickly reserve your own place on the retreat first!

email for more details on bringing your partner

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When and where does the Irish Cello Retreat take place?
A.The Irish Cello Retreat takes place in Garryvoe, East Cork, Ireland, 22 -26 June 2020. Upon registering we’ll set you up with your Skype session with Ilse to discuss your goals and get you ready for the retreat.

Q. Is lodging provided?
A. Yes. You will stay four nights in the stylish four star Garryvoe Hotel, by the sea. 

Q. Are meals provided?
A. Yes! Breakfast, Lunches and Dinners are provided. The Wednesday night depending on which session happens and where, we may decide to eat out. The whole group will dine together each day and evening.

Q. I’m a beginner to Irish music – is it for me?
A. Beginners to Irish music are welcome! We will look at basics and fundamentals of Irish music & I aim for no one to be left behind. It is best if you have at least 3 years of playing behind you though, so you can follow what is going on. We can chat before you book to make sure you are confident that you will be fine.
Sign up before February 1 and I’ll also meet up with you on a private Skype coaching call before the retreat to help get you ready for to make the most of your Irish Cello Retreat experience.

Q. How many students will be invited to attend the Irish Cello Retreat?
A. I’m limiting this group to maximum 10 so that everyone will receive personal attention and to keep the group small. This way we’ll all learn more in an intimate environment, and have more time to play.

Q. What is your cancellation policy?
A. You can receive a full refund minus any credit card fees within the first 30 days of reserving your place at the retreat. Please consider getting travel insurance to cover unexpected occurrences.

Q. What should I bring with me?
A. All you need to bring is your cello and plenty of enthusiasm!

Q. Will the Irish Cello Retreat be recorded?
A. Yes, the workshop teaching sections of the Irish Cello Retreat may be recorded, and posted privately for you to review in the future.

Q. What if I have a question that’s not listed here?
A. If you have additional questions, please email me at ilse@ilsedeziah.com

Q. What if I can’t bring my cello?
A. Don’t worry, if you need a cello in Ireland, let me know in advance and I can arrange to hire or borrow one and it will be at the hotel when you arrive. The cello may not be as high a quality as your own so if this is difficult for you please arrange to have your own cello with you. All the cellos hired will be playable though!

Q. Where do I fly to?
A. CORK AIRPORT is closest: I will organise transfers for you from Cork Airport, Cork Kent Train Station, or from the Bus station in Cork.

SHANNON AIRPORT: Many U.S flights are to Shannon Airport where you can catch a bus to Cork and I will pick you up from the bus station or your Cork accommodation if you come earlier.

DUBLIN AIRPORT: Aircoach is the best bus to take from Dublin to Cork, as it is direct from airport and only one stop in Dublin. It takes around 3hrs. You can book online and if you miss a bus they will let you on the next one if you already have a ticket. You can also take a train from Dublin’s Heuston Station to Cork’s Kent Station. You can email me about any travel questions.