For Vyvienne Long, music began, with piano lessons at the age of 8. The cello was introduced some years later and between the two instruments, her teenage years were filled with the study and performance of classical music. Playing with the National Youth Orchestra during school holidays, chamber orchestras, string quartets and piano trios all inspired a lasting kinship with orchestral and chamber music repertoire, a deep understanding of which bears fruit in the rich harmonic arrangements which are an integral part of her songwriting.
Whilst becoming more professionally involved in Dublin’s burgeoning music scene of the late 90’s, Vyvienne graduated with a degree in Performance from the DIT Dublin. Although work was plentiful in Dublin, she decided to further her studies with Lluis Claret, the renowned Catalan cellist, in Barcelona. This cultural immersion made a strong impression and it was there, in a shared apartment beside the Picasso Museum, that Vyvienne composed her first works for cello.
Opportunity soon called Long back to Dublin where she joined the National Symphony Orchestra. Meanwhile the guitars of an underground songwriting community were strumming their way to mainstream success. A collaboration with newly independent singer songwriter Damien Rice gradually expanded into a full-time touring and promotional rollercoaster. Negotiating the highs and volatile lows, the privileges and the loneliness of those ‘band’ years seemed an unrelenting challenge. However it was during this time, Long first began to experiment with a new musical concept – ‘cello song’. That is the art of accompanying oneself on cello as opposed to guitar or piano.
‘Seven Nation Army’
Her instantly sparse yet dynamic cover of The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’ became a nightly feature of the tour, and such was the audience response that it began to create waves backstage. Vyvienne was invited to record the song for Today FM’s cult classic ’Even Better Than The Real Thing’.
Emboldened by the terrific reaction to her solo performance, Long wrote, recorded and released her first EP of original songs Birdtalk in 2006. The single ‘They’re Not Waving’ with its multi-layered cello orchestra arrangement was a sonic revelation. For music journalists, the phrase ‘chamber pop’ was now officially a genre. A burst of high-profile invitations in Ireland followed with appearances on Other Voices, The Farmleigh Affair and RTÉ’s Late Late Show.
However touring with the band still took precedence and it was not until 2008 that Long could finally concentrate on the writing and recording of her debut album Caterpillar Sarabande. While in the studio, the lightly philosophical ‘Happy Thoughts’ found popular appeal when it was featured on a TV ad for Kerry Foods. Caterpillar Sarabande was released to critical acclaim in 2010, its classical foundations finding a home on RTÉ’s Lyric FM.
An Arts Council tour with London’s Balanescu Quartet in 2013 breathed new life into the original songs of her debut, which she masterfully rearranged for the String Collision Tour and subsequent live album recording Vyvienne Long Live with the Balanescu Quartet.
In the same year, Long toured with the eclectic New Triangle (Niwel Tsumbu, Roger Doyle, Vyvienne Long) and recorded an EP of Beatles covers to mark the 50th anniversary of their visit to Dublin in 1963.
In 2014, Long joined Irish super group DFF, who’s music is captured in the exuberant Pouric Songs.
Vyvienne is a regular guest with producer and DJ, Kormac following their collaboration on his album Doorsteps, and by request has appeared with artists such as Ed Sheeran in Dublin’s 3 Arena.
Vyvienne Long is set to release her second studio album, ‘A Lifetime of High-Fives’ in November 2019.