Robert Burns's The Jolly Beggars

The Jolly Beggars

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A live performance of Robert Burns’s dramatic cantata The Jolly Beggars

Step into Poosie Nansie’s drinking howff in Ayrshire where you will meet a delightful company of disreputable outcasts. In The Jolly Beggars, the national poet of Scotland summarized the dreary joys and the sordid love affairs of this group of vagrants. It was written in around 1785 but published posthumously, possibly because its controversial content risked damaging Burns’s reputation. 

Henry Bishop set the cantata to music in 1818 so this will be a great occasion to celebrate the 200th anniversary. This production will feature seven soloists, a narrator, a choir and a piano trio playing period instruments.

This production features seven soloists, a narrator, a piano trio and a choir using period instruments. The cantata will feature period instruments, recreating the piece 200 years after its publication. Performers include narrator Tam Dean Burn, Scottish singers Jamie MacDougall (The Bard), Lorna Anderson (The Highland Widow), Alistair Digges (The Tinker) and Andrew McTaggart (The Soldier) and the ‘vagrants’ of the chorus come from the singers of the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir. The trio is David Gerrard (fortepiano), Clare Salaman (fiddle) and Christopher Suckling (cello).

The evening will begin with a lecture about the work by Kirsteen McCue, University of Glasgow, who has just edited the cantata for the new Oxford edition of The Works of Robert Burns. Appropriately, refreshments will be served to the audience at the end of the evening.

In association with the Centre for Robert Burns Studies (CRBS), The University of Glasgow and The Burns Club of London

Image: 'The Jolly Beggars' from William Kidd (1832) A series of Twelve Illustrations of the Poems of Robert Burns. British Library Shelfmark 11633.f.4.

Portrait of Robert Burns – Used as The Burns Club of London logo University of Glasgow logo


Name: Robert Burns's The Jolly Beggars
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Price: Full Price: £15.00
Member: £15.00
Senior 60+: £12.00
Student: £10.00
Registered Unemployed: £10.00
Under 18: £10.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546