Traditional Music tutor to perform with centuries old Burns violin

Published: March 29, 2017


A 250 year-old violin which provided the music that Robert Burns learned to dance to will be played at the foot of the statue of the renowned Scottish poet in Central Park, New York City on Wednesday March 29 at 10.30am.

Acclaimed violinist Alistair McCulloch will perform music associated with Scotland’s bard under the Burns statue in Central Park.

The violin, which is older than the United States, dates from the 1750s and was played by Burns’ tutor William Gregg at dancing lessons in Ayrshire was brought to New York by the National Trust for Scotland, the charity that conserves and promotes Scotland’s heritage.

Representatives from the Scottish charity are in New York to attend a fundraising gala held by the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA.

The event, A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures is in its 10th year. The fundraiser generates vital funds to support preservation projects in Scotland.

A descendent of Robert Burns, acclaimed US Filmmaker Ken Burns (The Civil War, The War, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, Prohibition, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Jackie Robinson), is to be presented with a Great Scot Award at the gala later the same day.

The violin has recently undergone some important restoration work to take it back to how it was in the 18th century when Burns danced to it. This included repairs to the intricately designed wooden body, and restoring the strings to original gut in place of modern materials.

Experts say that this restores the instrument’s ‘voice’ to its original sound too.

It is said that Robert Burns, author of world-famous works like Auld Lang Syne and Tam O’Shanter, learned to dance as a form of rebellion against his father who did not approve of such frivolous behaviour.

The violin is usually on display at the National Trust for Scotland’s Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Scotland. This is the first time that it has left the country.