Local singers and musicians featured in BBC programme ‘Burns an’ Mair’

Presenters Mark Wilson (Musical Director & Assistant Producer) and Sylvia Burnside pictured at the BBC recording of 'Burns an' Mair' at Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church in Belfast.  The one-hour music special celebrating the life and work of Robert Burns will be shown on BBC Two Northern Ireland on Thursday 25th January at 9.00pm.
Presenters Mark Wilson (Musical Director & Assistant Producer) and Sylvia Burnside pictured at the BBC recording of 'Burns an' Mair' at Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church in Belfast. The one-hour music special celebrating the life and work of Robert Burns will be shown on BBC Two Northern Ireland on Thursday 25th January at 9.00pm.

A Burn’s Night concert ‘Burns an’ Mair’ which will be shown on Burns Night (Thursday, January 25) on BBC 2 at 9.00pm will be presented by singer Sylvia Burnside and Waringstown man Mark Wilson, who was also the Musical Director.

The concert celebrating the musical legacy of Robert Burns was recorded at Belfast’s historic Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church.

Here in Northern Ireland, we are more than familiar with the major poetic works of Robert Burns. Though he has long been heralded as Scotland’s National poet, Burns was primarily a songwriter with an often-overlooked body of work containing upwards of 400 songs. He was a composer and arranger of consummate skill, a fiddle player and a song collector. This 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.

Burns had a lifelong passion for music and made a major contribution to ‘the Scots Musical Museum’. Published in the early 1800s, this collection of folk songs played a pivotal role in the preservation of Scotland’s song tradition. As well as a collector, Burns was an innovator who re-wrote and reshaped many of the songs and tunes he included in this publication.

One of these was the haunting ‘Green Grow the Rashes O’, performed in the show by the celebrated Scottish singer Siobhan Miller. Fiddlers Diane McCullough and Emma Nevin who play ‘Lament for the death of his second wife’ written by Neil Gow, a contemporary of Robert Burns. Ballymena fiddle players Diane McCullough and Emma Nevin who play ‘Lament for the death of his second wife’ written by Neil Gow, a contemporary of Robert Burns.

The pair have grown up together, going to primary and secondary school, college and have shared a house, and were brought up playing music in halls around Ballymena. 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, Niel 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 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.