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Charity announces US tour for historic violin

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The instrument, which has link to Robert Burns, is touring to celebrate the Bard’s


A historic violin with links to Robert Burns is being taken on tour in the USA as part of celebrations for the Bard’s birthday.

The 18th century instrument is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s (NTS) unrivalled Burns collection of more than 5000 artefacts which are protected by the conservation charity at its Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway.

It will tour the United States as part of a partnership between the NTS, Scottish Government, and The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA.

Featuring in a series of Burns celebrations across the country, the instrument will be accompanied by acclaimed Scottish violinist Alistair McCulloch who will perform a programme of Burns and Burns-inspired compositions.

Originally owned by William Gregg of Tarbolton, Ayrshire, the violin was used to accompany dance lessons at the town’s Bachelors’ Club. Burns, who attended the sessions, wrote that he hoped dancing would “give my manners a brush”. It is also thought the dancing was a form of rebellion for the poet, whose father frowned upon such sinful behaviour.

David Hopes, NTS head of collections and interiors, said: “The violin is one of the jewels of our Burns collection and hearing it being played, as Burns did, is very special. For any Burns fan, and we know there are many in the States, this will make for a very memorable Burns night, and a moving celebration of Scotland's heritage.”

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop added: “As Scotland’s greatest cultural icon, Robert Burns encapsulates our creativity, pride and confidence. His legacy is of immense value to Scotland and is recognised the world over.

“I am sure the Gregg violin will bring a certain magic to Burns Night celebrations across the US, and remind those coming together to celebrate our National Bard of the great contribution he made to our shared culture and heritage.”

The tour begins on 16 January in New York. From there it will travel to Chicago for a collaboration with internationally-renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine before moving on to Boston for a series of Burns Night events. It then visits the west coast for an event hosted by BAFTA LA. The final stops are Washington DC, and then back to Chicago where the violin will be performed in front of the residents of the Caledonian Home.

The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA’s executive director Kirstin Bridier said: “For more than two decades, NTSUSA has helped Americans from across the country to preserve Robert Burns’ legacy in Scotland. We are delighted to bring this violin - once part of the poet’s daily life - to the US as a tangible reminder of what has been accomplished and the strong connection between our two countries.”



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