Right from the off it seems, Scottish pianist Mhairi Hall‘s albums have blended traditional and contemporary music while maintaining a close connection to the local landscape. She famously took a grand piano to the top of Cairngorm Mountain to celebrate the release of her trio’s debut album and, along with Patsy Reid, arranged a composition to evoke the contours of that same mountain. On her forthcoming new record entitled Airs, Mhairi continues in this vein but in a quieter and more reflective direction as she performs new arrangements of traditional Scottish slow airs alongside her own original compositions in a seaside setting.
“I have always loved slow airs, many of which come from the rich song traditions of Scotland and have been passed down through families and friends at gatherings over many decades. It is a beautiful thing to take a very old melody or song and turn it into something new, with colours in chords and textures, giving it a new life on a completely different instrument that maybe didn’t exist when the original melody was composed.” – Mhairi Hall
Featured here is the video for “St Kilda”, a very old Gaelic melody from the archipelago of the same name which lies more than fifty miles west of the Scottish mainland. It originates from the traditional tune Oran na h-Inghinn (Song for the girls) the words to which have not survived, but Mhairi offers a beautiful instrumental arrangement of the piece transforming it into the tenderest of reveries. The video was filmed in Crear, Argyll where Airs was recorded on a Model D Steinway protected from the elements but in full view of the picturesque Hebridean island of Jura and the sea which can be heard in the background.
Airs will be released January 31, 2020 on Mhairi’s own Strath Records label and features the work of renowned landscape artist Beth Robertson Fiddes in her first ever musical collaboration as she composed stunning mixed media paintings during the album’s recording which work hand in hand with the music. In addition to providing the cover art, Beth’s ‘Airs’ exhibition will accompany Mhairi’s live performances on tour throughout 2020 (see below for key dates and venues). The song “St Kilda” will also be available as a single on all online platforms from Friday, November 29th.
- 29 January 2020: Launch of ‘Airs’, Celtic Connections, Recital Rooms, City Halls Glasgow. Art exhibition runs for the duration of the Celtic Connections Festival.
- 27 March 2020: Concert at An Lanntair Arts Centre, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. Art exhibition runs 20th March –18th April 2020.
- May 2020: Concert at Eastgate Arts Centre, Peebles TBC. Art exhibition runs full month.
- 13 June 2020: Concert at Lyth Arts Centre, Caithness. Art exhibition runs full month.
- 4 July 2020: Concert at Eden Court, Inverness (Highland launch). Art exhibition runs 4th July –1st August 20.
- TBC: Concert at Woodend Barn, Banchor
- TBC: Tolbooth, Stirling concert and exhibition
- TBC: Eastgate Arts Centre, Peebles concert and exhibition