Founded in 2009, Artisan as a piano trio, with Aisling O’Dea - violin, Clea Friend - cello, and Simon Smith - piano. The trio performed regularly in their home city of Edinburgh and around Scotland, delivering exciting performances of core piano trio repertoire alongside commissions of new works from Scottish and UK composers. The group has been actively engaged in musical education activities and in developing improved musical access to all areas of the community.
This year Artisan has reincarnated itself as a duo, violin and cello, allowing for more versatility in range of venues, collaborations and combinations of sound and media. With this in mind they applied and were accepted with a scholarship to attend a residency called ‘21st Century Concert’ at the prestigious Arts Centre in Banff, Canada. There they spent three weeks working on programming ideas and addressing issues of audience engagement and the concept of classical concerts for todays audience.
‘This finely nuanced interpretation by the trio and guest clarinettist Peter Furniss, captured both the delicacy and strength of Adamia’s intricate and magical soundworld… Furniss and violinist Aisling O’Dea delivered this complex piece with effortless virtuosity and aplomb… Cellist Clea Friend beautifully evoked the gut-wrenching sorrow of all wars, in this spellbinding performance.’ – Susan Nickalls
‘…Artisan, who were on top form throughout, emphasised its punchy rhythms and changing evocations of mood’ - Carol Main
‘Bringing an exciting new dimension to Scottish chamber music, the Artisan Trio are young, imaginative and ambitious.’ – Carol Main
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Aisling began to play the violin at the age of nine. She went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music, London with Professor Maurice Hasson, completing a BMus (Performance) Degree in 1995 and then went on to complete two years of further study at the “Hans Eisler” Hochschule für Musik in Berlin with Professors Stefan Piacard and Michael Erxleben. During her 11 years in Germany, she played with many different ensembles including the Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen and was a member of Ensemble “Oriol”, Berlin, performing regularly in Berlin’s Philharmonie Hall. In 2000, she became a member of the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Frankfurt (R.S.O. Frankfurt) and was with the R.S.O. until 2007 when she was then appointed a position with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra based in Edinburgh U.K.
Aisling is a founding member of Artisan Trio. Their five concert series ‘Pendulum’ (2013) presented five new commissions from composers who studied and worked in Edinburgh, but now live across the globe. From 2012-2015, Artisan performed Messiaen’s ’Quartet for the End of Time’ as part of Holocaust Memorial Day. Artisan have recently reformed as a duo and in Feb 2018 were awarded a residency at the renowned Banff Arts Centre, Canada, and are currently planning new concerts/events in the coming 2019/20 Season.
Aisling is an active member of the SCO Vibe team, a fusion orchestra led by internationally renowned animateur and guitarist, Paul Griffiths, for young musicians aged 11 to 18, which is organised by the Creative Learning Department of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. She is also actively involved in other areas of the creative learning work including narration of children’s stories and workshop leading.
In May 2014, Aisling performed as part of the Nederlands Dans Theater 2 on their tour to Edinburgh, in which she performed Philip Glass’ solo violin work ‘Strung Out’. Always interested in something new and the opportunity to work with different art forms, in April 2017 she performed solo violin piece by composer Jeremy Thurlow ‘Ouija’ a five movement, partially improvised work, with recorded tape as part of the St Andrew’s Chamber Music Series.
'Cellist Clea Friend was born in London and pursued her studies firstly at Edinburgh University and then at Eastman School of Music in the USA. She has performed with many orchestras and ensembles in the UK, including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, RSNO, Scottish Opera and Ballet, and both the Paragon and Hebrides Ensembles. She is an active chamber musician and in 2009 established Artisan with violinist Aisling O'Dea and pianist Simon Smith. Other recent projects include a collaboration with composer Nigel Osborne and dancer Michael Popper at Edinburgh's Dance Base and an Artisan concert to raise funds for the DEC Haitian Earthquake appeal.
Clea sees her role as not just as a performing musician, but also as a community worker and educator, facilitating a wide variety of people from across all sectors of society to use music as an expressive and communicative tool.
In addition to her extensive teaching experience, she has been project manager and animateur for several innovative projects in the UK and abroad, from schools and community centres, to theatres, prisons and war-torn communities. These have included work with SCO Education, Streetwise Opera at the Sage, Gateshead, Richard Stilgoe's Orpheus Centre in Surrey, as well as extensive stays in Croatia and Bosnia, where she was also co-founder and Principal 'Cellist of the Mostar Sinfonietta.
Whilst maintaining her performing schedule with Artisan and other groups, Clea continues to research, and establish a practice in, the combined use of both Music and Yoga in the treatment of people with autism and special needs.