Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Burns in Aberdeenshire: Stuartfield

The mini-tour came to an end in the village of Stuartfield where youngsters were joined by pupils from nearby Auchnagatt. We had a packed room of over 70 very enthusiastic young people who responded very well to pre-questions and took part in the proceedings with much energy.
On balance Auchnagatt were slightly ahead with speed of answers to questions - so well done to them.. I especially recommend the local butchers Beef and Ale pies too!

Well! What a packed 2 days it was but lots of new friends and hopefully the Bard has ignited some enthusiasm in the young people of Aberdeenshire.
My thanks to all schools involved and especially to the HTs for giving me a chance to evangelise in the North East.

Burns in Aberdeenshire: Longside

Next day saw the Bard off to Longside - another village towards Peterhead. A HUGE thanks to Dorothy Simpson - Head Teacher here - who arranged all the visits for me. Longside is a splendid new school with many modern features and we had a large screen and a large crowd in the ultra-modern assembly hall. The youngsters were already well-informed about RB's life and works and managed some interesting responses at the start. They enthusiastically took part and hopefully had a fun morning.

Burns in Aberdeenshire: Strichen

Off in a Northerly direction to the village of Strichen next, where pupils from Kinimonth joined the Bard for an afternoon of story, songs and poems, in a packed hall. Once again behaviour was excellent and the pupils and staff were very enthusiastic about RB's story with some excellent, thought provoking questions at the end.

Burns in Aberdeenshire: Mintlaw

The Bard and I headed off to the North East this week with six schools in Aberdeenshire keen to hear about RB's life, loves and songs.

First up was Mintlaw Primary - based in Mintlaw - a fair size town with another primary and a secondary school - Mintlaw Academy - which serves all the surrounding area. After a warm welcome, and a cup of tea(!) the show took place in the assembly hall with around 50 youngsters. They enthusiastically joined in the singing and were well taken by the Mouse

Burns in Cramond

The Bard and I visited Cramond Yacht Club last Friday. A night arranged way back last year after a chance meeting at Aberdour Festival. The night went very well with a fantastic atmosphere throughout. The crowd, although not huge, was very enthusiastic with many half-time comments and questions. The club room is also in a beautiful spot with views out to the River Forth. The organisers just sent me these comments from the club Commodore....
Friday evening's one-man Burns show was a really top-rate entertainment - and in best Reithian style very informative and thought provoking too! I particularly enjoyed the illustrated Tam o Shanter, and that was only a small part of a well rounded production. ......... Thanks very much,

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Burns in Newry

Address to the Haggis

The 'Bard' and I were off to Newry, County Down, on Saturday night. A fine city on the border of Northern Ireland and Eire. There was to be a 'Gala Dinner' as part of a week long celebration of Burns 250th with me as principal speaker and performer. I was billed as a 'world renowned Burns Scholar', so no pressure then! The venue was Altnaveigh House and I was made very welcome by the Chair of Altnaveigh - David Hanna - whom I met earlier in the day, along with my friend and colleague Anthony Russell, during the live radio broadcast.

The evening was to be a Burns Supper, with me as adviser, proposer of the Immortal Memory and main singer/reciter, rather than a Burns250 show, but in costume none-the-less. A local ceilidh band 'Rising Stour' were also playing.

For the Immortal memory I used many slides from the show with the addition of some special ones on local Burns connections. As so often happens at these events time was our worst enemy but we managed to get through a varied programme by midnight, although sadly Tam O Shanter had to be omitted. Feedback from the over 120 guests was very positive and it is hoped this will become an annual event.....
A big thanks from me to all the organisers for inviting them to play for them, especially David and Anthony.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Burns on Radio FM5

No costume needed on radio!

Rowan Hand(DJ), myself and Anthony live in the studio

As part of the trip to Northern Ireland, we had a radio interview on the 'Bard'. I also played three songs live in the studio. Broadcasted between 9:15 and 10:00 am today - Saturday.

Burns in Crossmaglen

I was delighted to take the 'Bard' to Northern Ireland this weekend. A huge thanks to my colleague Anthony who has been working hard to set the trip up. As part of the Altnaveigh House (in Newry) Burns Gala Festival, I had two appearances. The first was in Creggan Church of Ireland Parish Hall, in Crossmaglen. I was overwhelmed to have a full, and very responsive, house on this first trip. Only a short week of advertising produced a mixed age range of enthusiastic listeners. Indeed some had travelled an hour and a half to get there which was amazing. Hopefully I can get out to Fermanagh and take the show to them later in the year.
I also had the chance to visit the grave and cottage of Agnes Burns - Robert's sister - who moved out here with her husband some time after Robert's death. Her man - William Galt - was brought over to build Stephenstown Pond, near Dundalk in Co. Louth, making such a good job of it that he was given a good salary to stay on and manage the estate. The cottage which they stayed in - rent free - is now a tea room and has some interesting photos and copies of letters from Agnes to her (and Robert's) mother, back in Ayr.
The crowd were so keen I stayed and performed for about 3 hours delivering the old favourites such as Tam O Shanter and A Man's a Man, among many others. Lots of interest expressed in more shows so I will try to get back again.
The second show of the trip was a Gala Dinner in Altnaveigh House in Newry....more on this later!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Burns in Caskieberran - Glenrothes

To a Mouse

The 'Bard' and I went to Glenrothes recently to deliver a short show to a very enthusiastic and well behaved group of 70 plus staff and pupils.

Excellent paintings of Rob and his poems

The youngsters have been working on the 'Year of the Homecoming' with a recent ceilidh, at which I was also delighted to play, as well as lots of work on Robert Burns. The art work behind the stage is superb as can be seen from some of the photos.

The Twa Dugs

Many of the songs were new to them but they had a try at joining in anyway. As usual a superb audience who have hopefully learnt some more about our Bard. There was the usual Q & A session at the end which brought some enthusiastic questions from the floor. An especial 'well done' to the young lady who bravely stood up and delivered a word-perfect version of 'Willie Wastle' - bravo!

Auld Lang Syne to finish off another show