Surrey’s Jack Lee, pipe sergeant of the six-time world champion SFU Pipe Band, will be among performers during ScotFestBC Robert Burns Celebration, an online event held in collaboration with SFU’s Centre for Scottish Studies.
The virtual Ceilidh, planned for the evening hours of Saturday, Jan. 23, is not a dinner, it’s a celebration of Scotland’s most famous poet, with sing-alongs, fiddling and more.
As event organizers suggest, it’s a chance to “dust off your kilts, grab your tartans and charge your whisky glasses” in honour of Robert Burns.
Tickets are free for “A Robert Burns Celebration,” as the gathering is known on eventbrite.ca, but space is limited. Those who register will receive an email with a Zoom access code for the event.
During the Jan. 23 event, Dr. Leith Davis, SFU’s director of Scottish Studies, will share history about Burns, and David Lunny will recite Burns’ famous poem, “Address to a Haggis.” The host is ScotFestBC executive director Mike Chisholm, and the 6:30 p.m. “pre-show” offers a recorded concert featuring SFU Pipe Band.
Prizes include a bottle of Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery Invermallie single malt whisky (valued at $130), a $250 gift card from Tartantown for the best dressed participant (with the best Scottish set design in the background) and and whisky tour gifts cards to the Victoria Caledonian Distillery. Additional prizes from The British Store in Surrey will also be drawn throughout the evening.
Meantime, North Delta-based musician Michelle Carlisle is hosting a “Robbie Burns & All Things Scottish” concert on Monday, Jan. 25, starting at 7 p.m.
On her YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/MichelleColinda), the free livestream show will feature several musicians, dancers and speakers, including Jim McWilliams (Address to the Haggis), Colin McWilliams (Piper), Shot of Scotch Vancouver (Highland dancing), Brian Flanagan (Vocals & guitar), Allan McMordie (A Whisky Library) and Todd Wong (Gung Haggis Fat Choy), along with a virtual whisky tour.
“Put on your plaid, tartan or both and get your whisky and haggis ready for a fun show,” Carlisle says in a Facebook event post.
Elsewhere, Delta Police Pipe Band plans its first virtual Robbie Burns Night performance on Monday, Jan. 25, in partnership with the City of Delta. The event, which launches the pipe band’s 50th anniversary, will be streamed for free starting at 7 p.m., on Facebook.com/CityofDeltaBC and YouTube.com/CityofDeltaBC.
Locally, another virtual Burns celebration will be hosted by musician Bruce Coughlan on Friday (Jan. 22), in a “Bard & His Ballads” showcase starting at 7 p.m. The Tiller’s Folly singer will be joined by Daniel Lapp (on fiddle/piano) and René Cusson (pipes/whistles) in a live performance at Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre. Tickets are $20 via tidemarktheatre.com.
“The stage is set for an intimate portrait of Burns in his own time,” says a post on the Tidemark website. “The story of his dramatic life and tragic death, woven through the lines of his own songs. It’s a tale of whisky and haggis, and of how Robbie Burns would emerge as a symbol of the Scots identity, and a champion for the common man, who’s genius continues to shine 225 years later.”
Robert Burns was born on Jan. 25, 1759, in Alloway, Scotland. “Like his father, Burns was a tenant farmer,” starts a biography posted to poetryfoundation.org. “However, toward the end of his life he became an excise collector in Dumfries, where he died in 1796; throughout his life he was also a practicing poet. His poetry recorded and celebrated aspects of farm life, regional experience, traditional culture, class culture and distinctions, and religious practice. He is considered the national poet of Scotland. Although he did not set out to achieve that designation, he clearly and repeatedly expressed his wish to be called a Scots bard, to extol his native land in poetry and song, as he does in ‘The Answer.”