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. 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.

In 2012, Mairi was compelled to get into a studio and put down some improvisations. Pulse the album, a collaboration between Mairi and producer Dave Gray, emerged. At the same time, Mairi was looking for ways to integrate story, song and movement, as a show, while working alongside director Kath Burlinson. The show Pulse was born.

“It’s magic to get the chance to premiere Pulse at Celtic Connections,” said Mairi Campbell. “I’ve been on this journey with Pulse for many years and intensely since 2012. I’m really fascinated to see how the audience connects with the show. Long may our journeys seeking pulse continue.” The show will be split into two sets, with Mairi performing Pulse in the first half. In the second half, she will deliver a special concert of soundings and improvisations, and invite the audience to participate, as a continuation of Pulse.

Mairi is no stranger to Celtic Connections. She has performed at the music festival since the early days, with Dave Francis as the Cast and as a session musician. However 2016 marks Mairi’s first solo show at the festival. More info: Celtic Connections website

The background to Pulse 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 the 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.  

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