Adjacent Meridian Point,
As they bring their new children’s show Treehouse to The Whale on Thursday 22nd, Ceol Connected’s artistic director Thomas Johnston goes back to their roots.
Ceol, as many of you will know, is the Irish word for music.
At Ceol Connected we place music at the heart of what we do, composing and producing highly engaging music experiences for our youngest citizens. Over the past 11 years, as Artistic Director of Connected, I’ve been lucky to work with so many wonderful and talented artists and creatives to create shows and facilitate workshops for young children. In many ways, it feels like the journey has just begun.
My Ceol Connected adventure began in 2011 when I was carrying out my doctoral research at the University of Limerick, and more and more of my artistic practice was focused on facilitating workshops for young audiences. I was drawn to the world of music for children and young audiences for a number of reasons. On the one hand, I could see through my work and research the immense potential for music to have a profound and transformative impact on children’s lives – and of course I still see this, and it’s something that continues to inspire and motivate me in everything I do.
There’s also a magical synergy that comes about when musicians such as myself have an opportunity to explore and collaborate with other artists: theatre-makers, visual artists, storytellers, puppeteers, lighting designers, dancers, etc. This collaborative approach is at the heart of what we do at Ceol Connected, and it’s in those liminal, in-between spaces where our work often finds itself. I believe that this way of being creative can extend the mind of the artist and give them a different perspective on what’s possible. Children are also particularly responsive to work that is created in this way.
These are just some of the values that underpin our work at Ceol Connected. In 11 years, we have created and toured 8 gig theatre productions, established Tradoodle Festival Monaghan, recorded 4 studio albums, and devised multiple artist residencies for children with complex needs.
SongTales presents Treehouse
Our Treehouse show at Whale Theatre is imbued with these values. Packed full of newlycomposed music and singalong songs, it tells the story of The Whistleberries who live amongst the treetops in Whistleberry Forest. Children and their adults are invited on an epic musical adventure where they will have an opportunity to singalong with songs such as Treehouse In The Sky, dance-along to Zahrah’s Frolics, and imagine what their very own treehouse might be in All The Things That We Can See. Treehouse really is a musical feast and we’re so excited to invite children into the treetops.
Our SongTales presents… initiative is the new platform that we are presenting Ceol Connected’s work under. To celebrate, everyone who joins us at Whale Theatre will receive a special concert wristband that they can use to download a music track and video from our forthcoming Treehouse album and creativity box. Children who come along will get a first-listen to a track from our album!! How exciting is that!?!
What Inspires Me
I’m hugely inspired by nature. All of our shows tap into the magical energy that we can discover and experience in the natural world that is all around us. For example, in Treehouse, we sing about all the shapes we see in the clouds, about little acorns growing tall and strong, and about the cheeky cuckoo who lives in our tree.
Young children possess a natural sense of curiosity, wonder, and enchantment with the world – I love to tune into this way of being when developing a show like Treehouse.
From Monaghan, I often draw on my county’s rich well of traditional music, folklore, and cultural heritage.
I’m always inspired by the imagination and creativity of artists with whom I work – some long-term collaborators include Emma Fisher (set designer, puppeteer and co-creator of Treehouse), Stephen Markham (sound design), Orla Kelly (visual artist), Niamh Lawlor (puppeteer), and Áinew McGeeney (musician who I will perform with in Treehouse), and many, many others.
Find Ceol Connected on social media @ceolconnected to find out more about their upcoming workshops, shows, and tours.