I'm at least 50% Scottish. My mother's family, although early settlers in Australia, never married outside the Scots. And so my first overseas trip was to the land of my ancestry. Travelling in Scotland, everywhere I heard Robbie Burns, Robbie Burns, Robbie Burns. And, while we are celebrating Australia Day this weekend, 25 January is indeed a big thing for the Scottish. It's Robbie Burns Day. In Sydney we will be celebrating with one of the flagship Year Of Scotland events and from every ticket purchased for the Glenturret Burns Night Supper at the Sydney Opera House, $50 will be donated between the Australian Red Cross and World Wildlife Federation, for the bushfires.
The Glenturret Burns Night Supper will reimagine the traditional ‘Burns Night Supper’ by showcasing indigenous Australian culture alongside conventional Scottish customs in a once-in-a-lifetime event, held as part of the year-long program of cultural and musical events planned across 2020.
Fresh from their headline appearance at the world-renowned Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, the multi award winning Scottish band Breabach will make the journey to Sydney for the event.
In celebration of their 15th year on the road, and in collaboration with The Glenturret, the band have released a limited-edition single malt whisky. To help support those communities affected by the bushfires, the first bottle distilled will be auctioned off, with all proceeds in aid of the bushfire campaign.
Ewan Robertson of Breabach, said: “It is truly heart wrenching to witness the devastation wrought by these fires. As a former volunteer firefighter myself I feel particularly helpless but hope that our small contribution can help support the relief effort in some way. Our thoughts and love are with all those affected.”
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “The Year of Scotland in Australia celebrates the strong and long-lasting bond between Australia and Scotland and our sympathies go out to all those communities affected by the bushfires. It’s heartening that this event, which is a true collaboration between our cultures, can offer some support to our Australian friends at this time.”
Held in the Sydney Opera House’s Yallamundi Rooms The Glenturret Burns Night Supper is a four-hour feast that will feature an inventive menu created by Sydney Opera House chefs to honour Scottish traditions – such as haggis - whilst incorporating native Australian flavours. Menu items such as haggis served alongside kangaroo with a root vegetable ecrase and New South Wales pickled mushrooms, vanilla wattle seed mousse with Cutaway Creek raspberries and a honeycomb and oat crumble will be complemented by wine, beer and premium single malt whisky from Scotland’s oldest working distillery, The Glenturret.
Highlights from this night of revelry include rousing recitals of Burns’ poetry; uplifting toasts such as the Piping of the Haggis (where a piper accompanies the haggis around the room before it’s served); the Immortal Memory; the Toast to the Lassies; singing of Auld Lang Syne; and musical performances to honour the life and work of Scotland’s national bard.
Breabach, who scooped the BBC Scotland Traditional Album of the Year Award last year, will perform a unique set combining twin bagpipes, fiddle, bass and guitar with Gaelic vocals and step dance. Breabach will be joined by acclaimed Indigenous violinist and vocalist Eric Avery. The event will open with the ancient Indigenous Australian tradition of ‘Calling Country’ with a combination of the bagpipes, the didgeridoo, a gum leaf dance and more. This Burns supper is the first of its kind and is a genuine celebration of two cultures in the iconic venue of Sydney Opera House.
Year of Scotland 2020 events are designed to inspire Australians to discover and celebrate Scottish culture at home, and to visit Scotland to experience ‘the real deal’ in future travels.
A significant event for Scots both in their homeland and here in Australia, Burns night suppers were first held in July 1802, when a group of friends of poet and lyricist Robert Burns got together to mark the fifth anniversary of his death with a festive feast of haggis and renditions of Burns’ work. The night was such a success, they decided to stage it again to honour Burns’ birthday, beginning a tradition which endures around the world today.