Simon Mayor

is one of the world’s foremost mandolinists (and composers for the instrument) as well as being a witty and entertaining presenter. Regarded equally highly in classical and folk circles alike, his recordings and live performances have been applauded everywhere from BBC World Service (Winter with mandolins was ‘Recording of the Week’) to the Classical Mandolin Society of America. His three-part series for BBC Radio 2, Marooned with a Mandolin was described as ‘the best programme on Radio 2 this week’ in the Independent on Sunday, and Gillian Reynolds declared, ‘Simon Mayor is a real find’ in the Daily Telegraph. He has made the UK Classical Artist Chart Top Ten and his CD ‘Music from a Small Island’ was declared “folk album of the year” in The Daily Telegraph.

Hilary James

is best known for her ‘elegant singing’ (The Daily Telegraph) which easily crosses the great musical divides from big band jazz to traditional ballads, blues and Berlioz. She is renowned too for an unlikely taste in bass instruments, including her amazing giant mandobass. A fine guitarist she accompanies Simon on guitar on anything from a Vivaldi concerto to a Brazilian Tango, and may even manage a step dance if the wind is in the right direction. Her latest CD, English Sketches , received 4 star reviews in both The Sunday Times and The Scotsman and was one of the Sunday Times Critics Best Ten World Music Albums for 2011. You can visit her at

The Mayor/James Duo

If the duo have a speciality, it is an ability to combine a truly diverse array of talents into a hugely entertaining stage show. there can’t be many performers who slide easily from a beautifully evocative Irish ballad into a mandolin and guitar version of Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, and then have the audience singing one of their own notoriously comic children’s songs, but it’s this wry sense of humour and an easy, informal stage manner that holds it all together.

Music for children

As well as an extensive touring and recording schedule, they share a keen involvement in music for children. They have written over 60 songs for BBC education programmes and during the late 1980s presented BBC’s The Song Tree, Listening Corner, Play School and Play Days. They have recorded five CDs of original songs for children and their Musical Mystery Tour concert band visits festivals and theatres, with the duo fitting in school visits whenever possible on their travels. Hilary James is a qualified teacher.

‘left you feelin lik you were floatin on a peerie cloud somewhar’
Shetland Festival