During the wintry February of 2009 Mhairi took her trio to Crear in Argyll, Scotland to record the music that is the debut album ‘Cairngorm’. On drum kit and percussion is Fraser Stone who also hails from Strathspey, and on acoustic guitar is Michael Bryan from Ullapool. The energy and space of Crear was an instant draw, as well as the beautiful Steinway Concert D piano, and she knew it would be the perfect place for the trio to record their album. They were joined by Will Lamb who engineered the album, and Dónal Lunny who sat in the producer’s chair and also played bouzouki on a couple of tracks. It was important to them to try and capture some of the atmosphere of the place, and connect it with the historical and cultural context of the music.

All of the music on Cairngorm is from the area of Badenoch and Strathspey which now encompasses a large part of the Cairngorms National Park taking in, naturally, the mountain Cairngorm (An Càrn Gorm). The traditional melodies were gathered by Mhairi over the past ten years from a variety of sources. Many of the tunes are hundreds of years old, and have been largely lost in the oral tradition, however preserved through Scottish collectors such as Captain Simon Fraser, Angus Cumming, Charles Grant from the 18th and 19th centuries. These men went on to publish their collections, which at the time were popular amongst the landed gentry. We are lucky to have them in a re-published form today, which means the music will not be lost. Mhairi Hall Trio have taken a selection of their favourite tunes and have developed them into pieces of music which represent their style, and feelings of the music and place.

The people and places surrounding Cairngorm have also inspired the music composed by Mhairi. Looking through the old collections, it is apparent that most traditional music was composed for people or places from a time or space and Mhairi’s tunes represent this in a modern day context.

The album, and album launch was supported by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, who have showed great vision throughout this musical journey.


You can listen to excerpts of the album launch recorded for BBC Radio Scotland here.
First thing in the morning of the 21st August 2009 Mhairi, Fraser, Michael and Dónal headed from Aviemore up the mountain road to Glenmore and onward to Cairngorm. Upon reaching the car-park at the bottom station they were met by Glyn Morris who had a grand piano for them, David Keay who had all the sound equipment, David Rogers who was helping out, and a small BBC crew consisting of Mary-Ann Kennedy and Seán Purser from Radio Scotland who were recording the days proceedings.

The grand piano was transported by the team into the mountain train, which took it up to the Ptarmigan venue that sits 600ft from the summit of Cairngorm. The air was clear, and the day beautiful which gave them a stunning view over the valley of Badenoch, Strathspey and beyond.

That evening, many train loads of people from far and near journeyed up in the mountain trains to the Ptarmigan. The music of ‘Cairngorm’ was performed live at the top of Cairngorm for the first time, against a backdrop off the mountain. It was a very special night for the trio, who were joined by their producer Dónal for a few sets. The audience appreciation was so supportive, and there was even a reindeer or two spotted trying to listen in to their music from outside!

Space for the music and its surroundings
Respect for the music, its place and its history
Love of the music, its environment and its people
Love of the music, the environment and the people

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