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Come and help celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns at the Orpheum Theatre on Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. Burns was a notable Scottish poet and song writer from the late 1700’s. One of his most famous songs was Auld Lang Syne. This program is a fundraiser for the Orpheum Theater and the Pondera Arts Council, organized by Julie Katana. 

This birthday event is celebrated worldwide. Katana is bringing in bagpipers, fiddlers, vocalists and poetry readers. There will be door prizes, a tam-o-shanter throw as well as the parading and tasting of the haggis. This is all things Scottish. 

Are you one of the more than one million Scottish descendants in America? Wear your tartan and show your Scottish pride! 

Not Scottish? Join us anyway for an afternoon of fun and celebration of a great poet and a great tradition. Admission is by donation.

Burns was born Jan. 25, 1759, in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland and died July 21, 1796, in Dumfries, Dumfriesshire. He was a national poet of Scotland, who wrote lyrics and songs in Scots and in English. He was also famous for his amours and his rebellion against orthodox religion and morality. 

Burns developed rapidly throughout 1784 and 1785 as an “occasional” poet who more and more turned to verse to express his emotions of love, friendship, or amusement or his ironical contemplation of the social scene. But these were not spontaneous effusions by an almost illiterate peasant. Burns was a conscious craftsman; his entries in the commonplace book that he had begun in 1783 reveal that from the beginning he was interested in the technical problems of versification. The Kilmarnock volume was a remarkable mixture. It included a handful of first-rate Scots poems: The Twa Dogs, Scotch Drink, The Holy Fair, An Address to the Deil, The Death and Dying Words of Poor Maillie, To a Mouse, To a Louse and some others, including a number of verse letters addressed to various friends.

Burns wrote all his songs to known tunes, sometimes writing several sets of words to the same air in an endeavor to find the most apt poem for a given melody. Many songs were substantially written by Burns but he never claimed them as his. 

He never claimed Auld Lang Syne for example, which he described simply as an old fragment he had discovered, but the song we have is almost certainly his, though the chorus and probably the first stanza are old. Burns wrote it for a simple and moving old air that is not the tune to which it is now sung, as Thomson set it to another tune. The full extent of Burns’s work on Scottish song will probably never be known.

This event is sponsored by the Pondera Arts Council, which receives funding from the Montana Arts Council, an agency of the state government, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

State funding comes in part through coal severance taxes paid based upon coal mined in Montana and deposited in Montana’s cultural and aesthetic projects trust fund.

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