Poetry in motion: Airport celebrates Burns flight as historic violin heads to USA

Alistair McCulloch plays the Gregg violin, which is believed to have been played by Robert Burns more than 250 years ago. ''(Photo: Lesley Martin)
Alistair McCulloch plays the Gregg violin, which is believed to have been played by Robert Burns more than 250 years ago. ''(Photo: Lesley Martin)

An 18th century violin with links to Robert Burns has flown out of Edinburgh Airport as it takes part in birthday celebrations in America for Scotland’s national bard.

The Gregg violin was owned by Rabbie’s dance teacher and it’s thought Burns first danced to the music which came from the 270-year-old instrument.

Now owned by William Gregg of Tarbolton, the violin was used to accompany dance lessons at town’s Bachelors’ Club.

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

Now part of the collection at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, the violin will be played at twenty-two events in the United States, all celebrating what would be the Bard’s 261st birthday.

Scottish violinist Alistair McCulloch is one of the few people in the world allowed to play the Gregg violin, and he treated passengers to a special rendition of some of Burns’ most famous songs ahead of a flight from Edinburgh to New York with United Airlines.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport said: “We always like to hit the right note when it comes to our passengers and being able to wave them off by playing such a historic instrument with a huge cultural significance to Scotland is certainly something they and we will always remember.

“Robert Burns continues to be one of Scotland’s most famous sons and people all over the world continue to celebrate their Scottish roots with his work, and we’re proud to have played a small part in taking this violin to the Scottish community that calls America home.”

Bob Schumacher, Managing Director Sales U.K. and Ireland, United Airlines: “It has been a great privilege to fly this historically important violin across the Atlantic.

“With our long history of serving Scotland, we are proud to play our part in celebrating the legacy of Robert Burns.”

David Hopes, the National Trust for Scotland’s Head of Collections & Interiors said: “The violin is one of the jewels the National Trust for Scotland’s Burns collection and hearing it being played, as Burns did, is very special.

“We’re delighted with all the help and support from Edinburgh Airport and United in making sure this precious instrument reaches the USA safely. We’re grateful too to the Scottish Affairs Office in Washington and the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA for putting together an itinerary that will ensure that the violin is heard across America as a tribute to Burns and the unbreakable connection between our two countries.”