Burns violin from Tarbolton brings sound of Scotland to the United States

The violin is pictured here ahead of its departure with Murray Pittock, National Trust for Scotland Trustee and David Hopes, the National Trust for Scotland's head of collections and interiors
The violin is pictured here ahead of its departure with Murray Pittock, National Trust for Scotland Trustee and David Hopes, the National Trust for Scotland's head of collections and interiors

An historic violin with links to Robert Burns is being taken out on a tour of the USA, as part of the Bard’s birthday celebrations.

Owned by William Gregg of Tarbolton, the 18th century instrument is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s collection of more than 5000 artefacts at its Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway.

The violin will be touring the United States as part of a partnership between the Scottish Government, conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland and The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA.

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

David Hopes, the National Trust for Scotland’s 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.”

The violin was used to accompany dance lessons at the town’s Bachelors’ Club. The sessions were attended by Robert Burns who wrote that he hoped dancing would “Give my manners a brush.”

More likely, he realised that dancing lessons were an excellent form of rebellion, as his father frowned upon such sinful behaviour.

The violin’s American tour begins tomorrow (Thursday) in New York City, 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, with the final stops in Washington DC, and then back to Chicago where the violin will be performed in front of the residents of the Caledonian Home.

Kirstin Bridier, The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA’s Boston-based executive director, 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.”