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Burns Night celebrated through USBF content

Date Posted: January 19, 2018

A number of projects funded by Northern Ireland Screen’s Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund (USBF) will broadcast across TV and radio next week to mark Burns Night in celebration of the life, poetry and music of Robert Burns.

Presenters Sylvia Burnside and Mark Wilson will host Burns An’ Mair on BBC Two Northern Ireland at 9pm on Thursday 25 January, the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.

The programme, made by Barking Films, celebrates Burns but not in the traditional sense with an ‘Address to a Haggis’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’, delving instead more deeply into the musical world of Robert Burns, and the writers and performers his work inspired.

Rasharkin-born singer/songwriter Andy Calderwood, who performs a special arrangement of  ‘A Mans A Man for A’ That’, found a real affinity between Burns’ language and the Ulster-Scots he grew up with in County Antrim.

Robert Burns was an admirer of the most famous Scottish fiddle player of the 18th century, Neil Gow. The internationally acclaimed duo of Scottish Fiddle player Alasdair Fraser and American cello virtuoso Natalie Haas deliver a set inspired by Gow’s legacy that combines tradition and innovation.

Echoing Burns’ love of the natural world, young Lisburn singer, Ruth Trimble, who has toured with Beth Neilson Chapman, performs the beautiful Wild Mountainside written by contemporary Scottish songwriter John Douglas.

Ballyclare High School Choir will also sing a cantaireachd (a musical tradition which employs chanting) along with Grahame Harris playing a pibroch (a form of music for the Scottish pipes) on Highland pipes. While other local acts taking part in the programme include piper Scott Wallace and Ballymena fiddle players Diane McCullough and Emma Nevin

As part of Burns Week, BBC Radio Ulster will also broadcast two special programmes, marking the first radio projects to receive funding from Northern Ireland Screen.

A Birl For Burns will air on Sunday 21 January at 12.30pm on BBC Radio Ulster.

In the programme, broadcaster Neil Oliver will explore the influence of Robert Burns on the work of the late Seamus Heaney, based on an interview Neil conducted with the revered poet at his home in Dublin. Featuring an extended interview, re-edited and re-imagined for radio, in which Seamus Heaney, in conversation with Neil Oliver, reveals his affection for Burns poetry and how it inspired him to write his poem, A Birl for Burns.

Heaney also recalls how he first encountered Burns at primary school in County Londonderry, through the poem To A Mouse, and discovered its affinity with the vernacular of his own townland and community in words such as “wee” and “sleekit.”

Jonathan Golden from DoubleBand Films said: “This is a great opportunity to hear the late Seamus Heaney talking so vividly about his obvious affection and respect for Robert Burns, and how Scots, the language of Burns, influenced the local vernacular in the area in which he grew up.”

On Board With Burns will also broadcast on Thursday 25 January on BBC Radio Ulster at the later time of 8pm.

Kerry McLean is joined by a selection of guests to celebrate Burns Night on the ferry from Larne to Cairnryan.

Joining Kerry will be North West singer/ songwriter Eilidh Patterson and bluegrass trio Cup O Joe. There will also be Burns tunes from Ballymoney based community group The Girona Orchestra, some food, piping and a little history to celebrate the big day.

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