Mairi Campbell: Pulse


Celtic Connections

Tron Theatre

27 & 28 Jan 2016


Celtic Connections 2016 premiere for Mairi Campbell’s show Pulse

Mairi Campbell is delighted to announce that she will premiere her theatre show Pulse at Celtic Connections 2016.

Mairi will perform her new one-woman show at the Tron Theatre on Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th January during the prestigious Showcase Scotland event at Celtic Connections.

In Pulse, Mairi sings, acts, plays and dances the story of her musical homecoming and journey of the heart. Mairi weaves live viola, voice, animation, movement and storytelling with tracks from her latest groundbreaking album Pulse.

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Royal Conservatoire of Scotland appointment for Mairi Campbell

Mairi Campbell has been appointed by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to teach improvisation to students on the BMus (Traditional Music) degree course.

Students can spend time with Campbell throughout the academic year learning to improvise within the folk music tradition. Campbell will also work with the students to reframe what it means to be a traditional musician, and expand the boundaries of the genre.

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One musician’s extraordinary tale of finding her way back home

In Mairi’s words…

Around 2012 I had a strong urge to get into a studio and put down some improvisations. I had never felt like that before. Totally compelled.

Every few weeks I’d go to Dave Gray’s Sound Café studio and put down some more material. I’d say, “Dave, turn off the lights and turn on the mics. I’m going in!” Afterwards, I’d leave, not even listen. I just wanted it on record but couldn’t figure out why.

There was an urgency and intensity about the music that came out in those sessions. I think it was connected to Scotland’s referendum. Many artists in Scotland have been going crazy needing to integrate all of that.

Anyway, I was surprised by what was coming up. It was way out left field, more exposed than anything that I’d done before.

One day, on mentioning that I had no idea what I would do with the recordings, Dave Gray suggested that he wanted to add guitar and some percussion to them. A few days later we had our first track. We were both very excited by the sounds so we continued to create more together. It didn’t take long to have a full album: now Pulse.

Since 2011 I had also been working with Youth Music Theatre as music director and songwriter, and expanding my repertoire around movement and word through two routes: attending Kath Burlinson’s Authentic Artist retreats and doing a training in InterPlay, a cross form arts practice.

There was also a general tone in the Scottish traditional arts community that some were looking for ways to integrate story, song and movement. I wanted to take that on. It was clear that this new music was a show, not a gig. And so the show Pulse was born.

The director Kath Burlinson and I have been working together for a few years and I love her work. She brings out the bold in you, that’s all I’m saying.  I don’t know how she does it. Such skilful facilitation and direction.

Back to now, I am really excited by what’s happening in Scotland, and I can see many more Pulse shows ahead. Our journeys seeking pulse continue.


The award-winning musician Mairi Campbell presents her new solo theatre show Pulse. Mairi steps out on a quest to heal ancient wounds and to “come home”.

In Pulse, Mairi sings, acts, plays and dances the story of her musical homecoming and journey of the heart. Mairi weaves live viola, voice, animation, movement and storytelling with tracks from her latest groundbreaking album Pulse.

The show, which is directed by Kath Burlinson, begins with Mairi feeling creatively stultified by her classical training at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

She then travels to Mexico and Cape Breton before returning to Scotland to take up her bow in the traditional music scene.

In the background is her love story with her husband and musical collaborator Dave Francis, who teaches her to play her first tune by ear.

Pulse is deeply touching, funny and potent.  The show is a significant development in Mairi’s artistry and is performed with an incredible power, commitment and energy.

Pulse was showcased in Edinburgh in June 2015 to amazing audience feedback.

A consummate musician, Mairi Campbell in her one-woman show Pulse reveals her formidable acting and storytelling talents as she explores the very essence of what it is to be a musician in this thought-provoking and moving journey. Susan Nickalls

music critic

Pulse was extraordinary. We were full of tears and wonder. Thank you! Singing and tapping along to the tracks! Lyre Productions

Scottish film-makers

A feast for the mind, as well as the eyes and ears. Challenging and inspiring. Made me want to dance (and I almost never dance!) and take up the fiddle again. Richard Medrington

founder, Puppet State Theatre Company

It’s a masterpiece. I experienced so many emotions throughout. It felt like a whole other level of, something. I love the music. I want to see it again. Audience member

Pulse preview show, Edinburgh 2015

Pulse high-res photo (click and save as):
Pulse brochure (download) Pulse marketing pack (download)


Mairi Campbell is an influential and pioneering figure in Scottish music. Her music has a rooted and powerful quality and her musical interests are wide ranging: from playing Scottish dance music to pushing the boundaries of the traditional music scene with her soundings and improvisations.

Mairi was one of the pioneers to introduce the viola as an effective aesthetic voice in Scottish traditional music, and to reintroduce solo step-dancing to Scotland in the early 90s.

Mairi has won Scots singer of the year and tutor of the year at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards. She has also won the Live Ireland Music Award for best female musician of the year, as well as the award for best composition of the year.

Her voice was heard worldwide when her version of Auld Lang Syne (with David Francis as The Cast) was used in a pivotal scene in the film Sex and The City (2008). She has performed the song at the Kennedy Center Awards before President Clinton and at the Scottish Parliament.

Mairi plays regularly with the Occasionals, Mr McFalls Chamber and Caledonia Concerto. She was musical director of the Edinburgh based folk-choir Sangstream for 12 years, and has worked extensively as a session musician.

Mairi is a skilled and experienced free improviser who has continuously developed her practice and found collaborators and mentors in this field. Most recently she has worked with Kath Burlinson (Authentic Artist Collective) and Paul Oertel and Nancy Spanier. She is also trained in InterPlay, a cross-form arts and community building practice. 

Mairi originally studied viola at the Guildhall School of Music and attended Peter Wiegold and Peter Renshaw’s pioneering course Music Performance and Communication Skills in 1985.

Other influences are Benno Plassmann (The Working Party) and Sahaja Yoga. In 2007 Mairi founded her own music retreats on the Isle of Lismore.  


“her voice can stop the clock” – The Scotsman

“wild, primal, honest” – The Herald

“After so many years working in music isn’t it great when music yet again displays its power to shock and stun you and reduce you to tears” – Tom Bancroft, musician

“Mairi is a remarkable musician, an artist whose work transfigures consciousness” – Alisdair MacIntosh, author of Soil and Soul

“Mairi is without question one of Scotland’s most all-encompassing musicians. She works and performs in many fields and the list is breathtaking” – Freeland Barbour, musician

“Mairi currently pioneers the improvisational use of voice and instruments in a context which extends the boundaries of our contemporary culture from traditional roots” – Mhairi Lawson, classical singer


“More chilled and hypnotic than Martyn Bennett, this music is for the blissed-out stage of the evening” – Folk Roots

“A beguiling brew of folk and trip-hop… potent reminders of the rhythmic thrills of both traditional and modern dance music” – The Musician



6-9 November
Fiddle Weekend with Mairi Campbell
Cuffern Manor, Haverford West, Pembrokeshire, Wales

20 November
Mairi Campbell in concert
Penicuik Community Arts Centre
Booking details to follow


19 Jan
The Occasionals dance band at Celtic Connections

20 Jan
Part of Scotia Nova at Celtic Connections

24 Jan
Scotland Sings workshop

27, 28 Jan
Mairi premieres Pulse at Celtic Connections
Tron Theatre Tickets: £14 Box office: 0141 353 800

2 Feb
Campbell’s Ceilidh The Storytelling Centre
Dead Stations Tour with Mike Vass

26 Feb – Seall
27 Feb – Knoydart village hall
28 Feb – Craignish

1 Mar
Campbell’s Ceilidh Storytelling Centre

Dead Stations Tour with Mike Vass continues
5 March – Woodend Barn, Aberdeenshire
6 March – Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness

2016 (continued)

4 Apr
Occasionals Scottish Ceilidh Band (for the Edinburgh International Harp Festival) Merchiston School

22-30 Apr
Sounding Authentic Retreat w. Kath Burlinson and Mairi Campbell

7 May
Pulse at TradFest 
Scottish Storytelling Centre
Booking details to follow

June 11 -18
Digging Where You Stand w. Kedar Brown and Mairi Campbell

Pulse at the Fringe
More details to follow

Mairi Campbell in concert
Pleasance Festival Theatre
More details to follow


Pulse – the theatre show


Pulse (2015)

Mairi’s latest album.
Available at:

Seven Songs (2015)

Available at:

Mairi Campbell (2011)

Available at: Mairi’s shop iTunes

Auld Lang Syne (the single)

Available at:

Revival & The Red Earth (2012)

Available at: Mairi’s shop

Greengold (2007)

Available at: Mairi’s shop

Colours of Lichen (1996)

Available at: Mairi’s shop

The Winnowing (1994)

Available at: Mairi’s shop

A selection of sheet music for Mairi’s songs is available at: Link coming soon


If you’d like to buy a print, please contact Mairi using the contact box below. Shop links for Mairi’s art coming soon.


High-res photos (right click and save as)
Mairi Campbell. Photograph: Julia Fayngruen©
Media packs (click and download)



Greengold Music
07825 788861


Kate Taylor
07793 284468


Marianne Halavage
0777 963 1391


Kathryn Ross