Category Archives: News

BBC SSO & Karine Polwart arr. Pippa Murphy


KARINE POLWART: In performance with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for Celtic Connections, Thursday 19th January 2017. Arranged by Pippa Murphy. 

Karine’s powerful, poetic and dramatic cultural statement in respect of the Trump presidency.

Filmed live by the BBC at the opening concert of Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, it was performed with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as a prelude to Karine’s song “Cover Your Eyes” which was used in the award-winning documentary ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ about the construction of a luxury golf course on a beach in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, and Trump’s shocking treatment of a Scottish family and his attempts to force them off their land.

On May 11th 1930, Mary Anne Macleod, from Tong on The Isle of Lewis, boarded the RMS Transylvania from Glasgow to New York City, in search of a better life. There, she fell in love with Frederick, whose father had come to America from Germany as a 16 year old barber.

The couple raised five children.

Mary Anne’s middle son would return years later to Scotland, home of his MacLeod ancestors, whose clan motto is: I burn but I am not consumed.  And here – in the name of progress and profit – and executive golf – he would pit himself against time and tide. In his wake, the shifting sands at Balmedie in Aberdeenshire would never be the same.

That son of Mary Anne MacLeod is powerful.

So too is The North Sea.

The marbled, metamorphic rock of Lewis is two-thirds the age of Earth – amongst the very oldest found on our planet. It knows about power. It’s seen a lot. And so I wondered: what might that rock of Lewis have to say about the Inauguration – tomorrow in Washington DC – of the 45th President of the United States of America – Mary Anne’s middle son? This is what the rock told me.

Oh son of Lewis, lonely boy,

hewn from granite, salt and sky

upon a foreign shore:

the ocean is a mirror gleam

in which you see yourself,

and nothing more.


Three billion years of gravity,

of strata forged in fire and earth,

the stone crib of your mother’s birth,

in which your forebears lie.

I am alive. I am a tomb.

I burn, but I am not consumed.

I burn, but I am not consumed.


Fish may swim at your command

across The Atlantic to the land

of dreams and self belief and boundless chance.

An exile tale. An immigrant dance.

You’re captain of a frigate now,

So set your compass, raise the mast,

Blow up the sails,

Erase the past, and future, if you must.

Together we can stand

and watch the peat-land turn to dust.


This is your apprenticeship:

The Gulf Stream doesn’t know your name,

nor does the splendid, blazing sun

that alters how the currents run.

The North wind never heard you roar:

You’re fired! You’re fired!

My back might burn, the blaze run wild,

but I am not consumed, my child.


The Minch whips up a spindrift storm.

The machair shifts. The machair moans.

At Uig Bay and Luskentyre,

the gale blows fast, the tide flows higher.

The shore erodes and disappears.

And, meantime, you are stoking fears

and stacking hope into a pyre.

You strike a match.


Oh ma bairn, mo leanaibh

Oh ma bairn, mo leanaibh


Your mother was a wee girl once,

who played upon my rocky shore.

And you, you are broken boy,

and you want more and more and more.

You build a tower. You build a wall,

You live in fear that they might fall.

You who see nothing but your face

in the sheen of The Hudson River.


Oh ma bairn, mo leanaibh

Oh ma bairn, mo leanaibh


A balancing is yet to come,

although by then you may be gone

and leave a desert to your sons and daughters.

Still, these waters, they will rise,

the North Sea haar will cover your eyes,

despite your appetite for lies.

your disregard  for truth.


Three billion years of gravity,

of strata forged in fire and earth,

the stone crib of your mother’s birth,

in which your forebears lie.

I am alive. I am a tomb.

I burn, but I am not consumed.

I burn, but I am not consumed.

POP-UP Duets Janis Claxton Dance

POP-UP – nominated for Creative Edinburgh Awards. See the new excerpt here.

Artistic Director and Choreographer – Janis Claxton
Composer – Pippa Murphy
Dancers – James Southward, Christina Liddell, Carlos Javier Martinez.
Dramaturg – Clive Andrews
Costume Designer – Matthias Strahm
Producer: Mike Griffiths

Music and Lyrics – Pippa Murphy
Kathryn Joseph – Vocals
Pippa Murphy – Piano, Violin, backing vocals
Tom Bancroft – Drums
Su-a Lee – Cello
Diana de Cabarrus – Guitar
Tom Lyne – Bass 

Produced and mixed by Pippa Murphy
Vocals recorded and mastered at Caribou Recording by Mattie Foulds


I’m doing the sound design for Karine’s show for the Edinburgh International Festival
4 – 21 August 2016
Rehearsal Studio – The Lyceum
Every autumn, two and a half thousand pink-footed geese fly from Greenland to winter at Fala Flow, a protected peatbog south-east of Edinburgh. From this windy plateau, Karine Polwart surveys the surrounding landscape through history, song, birdlore and personal memoir. Ideas of sanctuary, maternity, goose skeins, Scottish football legend and medieval medicine all take flight, in this compelling combination of story and song.

As a songwriter and singer, Karine Polwart is a multiple winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. She is also a composer for theatre and animation, an essayist, a storyteller and an erstwhile philosophy tutor. She has created Wind Resistance with dramaturgy from David Greig, Artistic Director of The Lyceum directed by Wils Wilson.

Sound Design – Pippa Murphy

Stellar Quines – The Air That Carries the Weight

World premiere of new play by Rebecca Sharp, directed by Muriel Romanes, Music by Pippa Murphy, Design and Lighting by John and Janine Byrne

March 24-26th 2016 – Traverse Theatre

A journey of friendship, digging and reconciliation transcending time and space.

Isobel is summoned to a cottage in Argyll, which she inherits following the sudden death of her childhood friend, Yvonne. While sorting through Yvonne’s collection of books, objects and writings, she discovers her interest in Scottish writer and archaeologist Marion Campbell, and her novel The Dark Twin.

Guided by Yvonne and Marion, Isobel journeys through memories, signs and stories to reach the truth Yvonne discovered before she died.

This new play by Rebecca Sharp layers reality and fantasy through immersive writing, design, lighting and original music.

The Air That Carries the Weight was presented at a Rehearsal Room in 2014 at the Traverse Theatre along with Rebecca Sharp’s companion piece Little Forks.

For more information on the work of Rebecca Sharp visit her website.

Supported by the Tom McGrath Trust.

Image: John Byrne

So we’d work away… digging, sifting, dusting, recording.. without knowing or needing to then, which dreamers’ sleep we might be part of yet. That each one of us is awake in another’s dream.




24 March 2016 at 7.30pm (Preview)
Full price: £12.50
Concession: £8.50

25 March 2016 at 7.30pm
26 March 2016 at 2.45pm (Matinee) & 7.30pm
Full Price: £16.50
Standard concession: £13.50
Other concession: £8.50

Traverse Theatre
Cambridge Street, Edinburgh. EH1 2ED
0131 228 1404

The Pilgrimer: Celtic Connections


And so the benchmark has been set early, as one of the most ambitious and potentially risky projects of this year’s Celtic Connections delivered in spades. 

Celtic Connections | Pilgrimer – A Re-Imagining of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira | Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 

Joni Mitchell’s Hejira is writer James Robertson’s favourite album, so that he would even want to touch it, never mind reinterpret it in Scots shows some guts. Who knows what blood, sweat and tears went into the project – the results felt effortless and free-flowing, even when Robertson made audacious substitutions such as Dundee for Memphis or ?St Columba for Amelia Earhart, the subject of Amelia. 

He laid the scene with a spoken word intro over gently undulating guitar from Steven Polwart, who curated the music for the concert, along with sister Karine. She, in turn, demonstrated a natural feel for the rhythmic switches in Mitchell’s vocal melodies, engaging in a lovely lithe dance with Fraser Fifield’s fluttering low whistle. 

There was infectious excitement in her voice as she introduced guitarist Larry Carlton, who played on Hejira and seemed as delighted as the audience with proceedings. Polwart was not the only shrewd vocal match – Annie Grace’s rich alto resonated with a bruised soul, while Rod Paterson added an earthier texture again, and almost stole the show with a warmly witting Franco-Scottish repurposing of Blue Motel Room completely with topical Forth Road Bridge joke. 

The instrumentalists got their moment of glory with a warm jazz wigout en route to the thoughtful terminus of this “travelogue of love and life”. 

If the first half was daring and rewarding, the second was heartfelt and respectful as a succession of talented singers demonstrated just how much they owe to the Mitchell songbook. Julie Fowlis reneged on her offer to sing a Mitchell song in Gaelic when she realised there was no translation for Cactus Tree, but Canadian singer Rose Cousins failed to heed her own warning about Blue being “one of those Joni Mitchell songs that should never be covered”. 

Kathryn Joseph was a little more adventurous with her sparse, rhythmic accompaniment to Both Sides Now, while The Magdalene Laundries was divested of its “happy chords”. However, there was nothing but happiness flowing between stage and audience during the richly arranged massed versions of Free Man In Paris and The Circle Game which closed this concert in perfect harmony.  

Celtic Connections – Pilgrimer

Delighted to be doing the string arrangements for this with a fantastic line-up of players!

PILGRIMER: A Re-imagining of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Hejira’

One of several concerts at Celtic Connections 2016 reflecting the currently hot-button topic of migration – a human phenomenon as old as the race, and indispensible to our cultural evolution – Pilgrimer reimagines Joni Mitchell’s classic 1976 album Hejira, whose Arabic title denotes both the prophet Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina in 622, to escape persecution, and any flight from danger or hostility. Largely written while driving home solo from Maine to LA, Hejira meditates profoundly on what one track calls ‘The Refuge of the Road’, with its flipsides of freedom and loneliness.

Pilgrimer, by the novelist, poet and Scots language champion James Robertson – who’s long drawn inspiration from Mitchell’s canon – audaciously adapts the album into both Scots and a Scottish setting. It’s premièred here by a stellar cast including Dick Gaughan, Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Olivia Chaney and Annie Grace, plus Grammy-winning US guitarist Larry Carlton, who played on Hejira itself.

A glittering cast will perform Joni Mitchell’s greatest hits in the second half of the concert including Karine Polwart, Rod Paterson, SAY award winner Kathryn Joseph, Annie Grace and Julie Fowlis. Musical Directors for the evening are Karine and Steven Polwart with specially commissioned string arrangements from award-winning composer Pippa Murphy.

Please note: this concert will take place in the Main Auditorium.


POP-Up Duets

In rehearsal right now – music to follow:

POP-UP Duets – Janis Claxton Dance 

POP-UP Duets is a series of short, multi-site-specific contemporary dance duets designed for a wide range of public spaces and audiences. POP-UP Duets explore the interface of everyday gesture and action intricately amplified into complex and virtuositic duets designed for both invited and ‘accidental’ audiences.

 POP-UP Duets is a new production by Janis Claxton Dance for public locations including; museums, galleries, cafes, bars, bus-stops, libraries, train stations etc.

POP-UP Duets will bring together the talents of Scottish based choreographer Janis Claxton and composer Pippa Murphy with four world-class dancers to bring contemporary dance with original music of the highest quality to the public domain.

POP-UP Duets will explore the interface of everyday gesture and action, and detailed intricate partner dancing. The duets will arise out of public situations in public spaces lasting from 1-7 minutes long and can be viewed from multiple angles and experienced in a variety of spaces, and traverse various emotional states related to ‘relating to other through physical contact’.

POP-UP Duets are designed to emerge from situations (as opposed to a set up audience-performer environment) and to be received by invited as well as unsuspecting or ‘accidental’ audiences. The duets can be tailored to bespoke events and spaces (think cocktail party, exhibition opening, an underground train ride, bus-stop, street side café etc) and will traverse a wide range of intensity and emotional resonances.

 POP-UP Duets will be elegant, beautiful, intricate, dynamically subtle and moving. They will draw the viewers in and invite visceral empathy as two dancers move with the power of simple everyday interactions amplified into exquisite and dynamic dancing.

The research stage for POP-UP Duets, funded by Creative Scotland, is currently in process and will be completed in partnership with Fife Cultural Trust in November this year with a sharing at Tiffany’s restaurant Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline, on Thursday November 26 2015.

Pending funding POP-UP Duets will be completed in summer 2016 for performances at Merchant City Festival, Museum of Scotland during the Festival Fringe and 30 venues in Fife (including libraries).

POP-UP Duets will involve a core team of world-class artists working in collaboration with innovative organisations and creative presenters.

The Artistic Team:

Artistic Director and Choreographer – Janis Claxton

Composer – Pippa Murphy

Dancers – Karianne Andreassen, Christina Liddell, Carlos Javier Martinez, James Southward

Dramaturg – Clive Andrews

Costume Designer – Matthias Strahm

Partners and Presenters:

Fife Cultural Trust

Creative Edinburgh

Dance House Glasgow

Merchant City Festival

National Museum of Scotland

The Wakeful Chamber

Rehearsal have begun for The wakeful Chamber!

The Wakeful Chamber

The Lemon Tree Tuesday 20 October 2015 – Saturday 24 October 2015

Oran Mor Mon, 26 October, 2015 — Sat, 31 October, 2015

By Rebecca Sharp | Directed By Emily Reutlinger

Composed by Pippa Murphy

Featuring Kim Allan and David Rankine

Presented in association with Aberdeen Performing Arts and sound – Scotland’s Festival of New Music

A woman’s chronic somniphobia (fear of sleep) leads her to develop an elaborate system of rituals in order to survive the hours of night – measuring time, light, distances, stars – until day breaks and the world around her wakes up.  Inspired by the work of Aberdeen’s Royal Astronomer Sir David Gill, alchemy, fantasy and bats, the play explores what happens to our sensory perception when familiar routines are under threat.

Hector the Hero

Just finished recording some of my new scottish tunes for this play about Hector the Hero. Rehearsals starting tomorrow!

See here for where you can see the play and hear the music.

Democratic Resonance Scottish Parliament

Democratic Resonance is the first piece to emerge from the artist residency in the Scottish Parliament by myself and Zoë Irvine (sound artist). We are in the final stages of mixing it for an 8-channel installation in the Parliament from 3pm Friday 14th to 4pm Sunday 16th August.

The piece is installed in one of the meeting rooms that represents a threshold space between the public area and the MSP area of the building. It is a meeting point and an interface. During the Festival of Politics it is also a thoroughfare. The piece aims to bring to the listener a sonic experience of different spaces and times in the working life of the building. Recordings used in the piece come from the corridors, hallways, basement and courtyards. The sound reflects from Kemnay granite, Caithness flagstone, Scottish Oak, Italian marble, glass, concrete, carpet, it circles in the stairwells and liftshafts and resounds through the kitchens, corridors, hallways, basement, chamber and committee rooms.

St Magnus International Festival

St Magnus International Festival has announced the cast for Duncan McLean’s new play, Telling the Truth Beautifully, commissioned specially by the Festival. The wonderful Marilyn Imrie has brought me on board as Sound Designer and I am delighted to be working alongside the cast of five Scottish actors, Kirstin McLean, John Shedden, Alasdair Macrae, Nicky Elliott and Caroline Deyga and the play will open the Festival on 18 June.

The play tells the tale, through music and theatre, of the infamous 19th century case of gin smuggling in Kirkwall and the trial of a local grocer. Appropriately, it is written by well-known Orkney writer Duncan McLean, current wine merchant in the town. All the events and characters in the play are closely based on real events and people.

Actress Kirstin McLean is best known for her roles on BBC Two Scotland’s Limmy’s Show which features a series of observational, surreal, dark and bizarre sketches. “Limmy’s Show has been great to work on,” she says. “Brian Limond is really inspiring, and just so talented.” She has also appeared in River City, Doors Open, and Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights. Since graduating from the RSAMD 10 years ago she has landed a range of theatre and TV roles.and just so talented.” She has also appeared in River City, Doors Open, and Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights. Since graduating from the RSAMD 10 years ago she has landed a range of theatre and TV roles.

Shetland actor John Shedden has a long and distinguished career in broadcasting and theatre and his television appearances include Annals of the Parish, What Every Woman Knows, Weir of Hermiston, Taggart, Still Game and Rab C. Nesbitt.

Award-winning Alasdair Macrae is an actor, sound designer, musician, musical director and composer. Born in Ayrshire, he was brought up singing and playing with the world famous band the Macrazies, before playing for ceilidhs with The Tattiehowkers and later The Oatcakes. He studied drama at Glasgow’s Langside College and did street theatre with Borderline, but only integrated his music and acting after joining Vanishing Point’s production of Invisible Man when the director spotted him busking on Sauchiehall Street.

Nicky Elliott is an actor and singer who appeared with Eddie Izzard in Kitchen for Ecosse Films, Lip Service for BBC3 as well as I Keano and Life of Riley for the BBC and Fair City and The Big Bow Wow for RTE Television.

Caroline Deyga is from Carnoustie and studied Acting and Performance at The Space, Dundee College. She has recently graduated from the Acting for Stage and Screen course run jointly between Queen Margaret and Edinburgh Napier Universities. She’s been acting as part of Dundee Rep Ensemble including a one woman show, The Shape of a Girl, a one-woman show examining a young girl’s battle with inaction.

All five actors will also be performing as part of Greenvoe in Stromness Town Hall on Sunday 21 June at 2.30pm.

Telling the Truth Beautifully has four shows at MagFest venue Fusion nightclub between the 18th and 20th of June including its world première on Thursday 18th June at 7.30pm.

Telling the Truth Beautifully is directed by Marilyn Imrie, an award-winning producer and director including of Radio 4’s hugely successful Rumpole of the Bailey starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Tickets priced £15 and £11 are available from the Box Office.

Listening Beyond…

A concert of immersive electroacoustic music, spatialised across City’s surround sound concert system.
Venue: Performance Space (ALG10), College Building, City University London, , EC1V 4PB
Dates: 10 March 2015
Price: FREE Website
Uploaded by: cityuniconcerts



PIPPA MURPHY – Kamala Kantha (2004)
NATASHA BARRETT – Three Fictions (Northern Mix) (2000)
PAULA MATTHUSEN – Rosenthaler (2006)
LOUISE ROSSITER – Tout Autour De La Montagne (2014)
DIANA SALAZAR – Rewind [modus operandi] (2014)
ELAINIE LILLIOS – Listening Beyond… (2007)

FREE ADMISSION, all welcome.


Performance Space (ALG10)
College Building
City University London
St John St (between Spencer St and Wyclif St)
London EC1V 4PB


Go Compose – SOUND Festival – Red Note Ensemble

I’ll be working with young composers on this:

go compose!

Go Compose! for young composers and creative musicians aged 14 – 19

Go Compose! is an intensive composition project for young people aged 14-19 who are still in full time education. This is a unique chance to work with professional composers Pippa Murphy and Gareth Williams alongside musicians from Red Note Ensemble to create your own, original pieces of music, which will receive their premiere performances at Woodend Barn in Banchory! You will also receive a recording of your piece.

All workshops and performances take place at Woodend Barn, Burn O’ Bennie, Banchory AB31 5QA.

Timetable for the project
Sun 12 Oct 2pm – 5pm / 6pm – 8pm
Mon 13 Oct 10am – 5pm
Tue 14 Oct 10am – 5pm
Plus performance including your piece at 6pm

Accommodation also available by arrangement.  Please contact for more information.

For more information please download the Go Compose! flyer and application form

ticket price



Woodend Barn
AB31 5QA
Go Compose! is a collaboration between Sound and Music, sound festival and Red Note Ensemble with support from Aberdeen Endowments Trust, David and June Gordon Memorial Trust, Radcliffe Trust and Woodend Barn. The final performance is part of the PRS for Music Centenary year celebrations.

Anamchara – Songs of Friendship

Tickets are now on sale for Anamchara- Songs of Friendship. Words by Alexander McCall Smith. Music by Pippa Murphy. See more here.

Part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme

 Scottish Opera’s new family opera is based on themes of friendship and the ties that bind people together, whatever their age and wherever they make their home. Seven songs symbolising seven different kinds of friendship take you from day to night and through the circle of life – from childhood to teenagers in love and from adulthood to the golden years of life.

Anamchara – Songs of Friendship is written by acclaimed Scottish novelistAlexander McCall Smith and composer Pippa Murphy. A celebration of different cultures, the music features traditional instruments from India and Scotland. The multi-cultural cast of over 100 performers includes young professional singers and musicians from Scotland, India, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Botswana, Scottish Opera’s Connect Chorus and Orchestra, and a community choir made up of children, adults and students from Commonwealth countries, living and working in Glasgow.

«Nachtstrom 67» – Pippa Murphy

I’ll be playing some new pieces and some old at the Gare du Nord in Basel on the 23rd Jan. Looking forward to returning!

Die britische Komponistin Pippa Murphy ist spätestens seit ihrem herausragenden Konzert am dBâle Festival 2010 im Gare du Nord auch hierzulande eine bekannte Grösse der elektroakustischen Musik. Derzeit arbeitet sie als «Artist in Residence» am Schottischen Parlament und schreibt ein neues Stück, das die Raumakustik des Gebäudes sowie auch die Klanglandschaften der politischen Zusammenkünfte thematisiert. Bezugnehmend auf das Jahresthema «Stille» der Hochschule für Musik kuratiert Pippa Murphy für den «Nachtstrom 67» ein Programm mit elektroakustischer Musik und wird ihre neueste Arbeit mit einem mehrkanaligen Lautsprecherorchester uraufführen.