Irvine: Music returns to Burns Club as venue hosts choir


Music has made a welcome return at the Irvine Burns club headquarters in Wellwood after it closed due to the pandemic.

The Strathclyde University Choir were the last group to perform at Irvine Burns Club musical evenings ahead of the closure of its Wellwood Burns Center & Museum in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was therefore appropriate that the same group receive a very warm welcome during the relaunch, even provisional, of the musical programming of the club to mark the first steps towards normality from last week (Wednesday, October 27).

Changes had to be introduced to comply with Covid restrictions, including pre-booking tickets, a drastically reduced audience of just 32, collecting Track & Trace information, and implementing social distancing.

But Wellwood audiences were happy to conform to these changing circumstances and were able to enjoy an entertaining evening of choral singing in the unique setting of Wellwood.

Bill Cowan, Irvine Burns club manager, said: “We have had to cancel our entire program over the past 18 months, not only for the final events of the 2019/20 season, but for the whole of the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 schedule, due to restrictions and blockages led by Covid.

“We have always hoped to be able to start our concerts again before the end of 2021 and are delighted to have been able to do so. From their positive response, our customers clearly praised our efforts to re-host concerts and guests agreed that new protocols needed to be in place to comply with current restrictions. As these decrease in number, we hope to accommodate a larger audience and plan to have more concerts later this season. ”

“Arrangements are already in place for a duo consisting of a classical guitarist and a flautist now residing in Glasgow to perform at the end of April and this brings a whole different kind of music to our Wellwood concert series. By promoting a variety of music we are already attracting audiences from other parts of Ayrshire and beyond and we are becoming known as a community driven band with an interest that goes far beyond the limits songs and poems by Robert Burns, or music from Scotland.

While delighted with this successful music event recently hosted at Wellwood, Bill Nolan, Honorary Secretary of the Irvine Burns Club, was keen to stress that hosting last week’s music event should not be taken as a return to normality for the Irvine Burns Club and its Burns Museum. In fact, both will face massive changes before Wellwood can reopen its doors to visitors and a review is currently underway of the museum’s main attractions and how they can be best presented. Sadly, the entire Wellwood visitation program by local elementary schools was canceled earlier this year with none currently scheduled for next January, so this is clearly a huge hurdle to overcome.

As Nolan commented: “We have always attracted large groups of children, many of whom are introduced not only to the works of Robert Burns but also to those of other Scottish writers. We encouraged them by showing them Burns’ manuscripts up close and some had the rare experience of handling a first edition of his’ Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect ‘, his famous Kilmarnock edition, first published in Kilmarnock. in July 1786 by John Wilson. Similar experiences will probably not be possible for some time to come and we are actively looking for ways to promote and expand our well established “Burns in Irvine” program into a different but still very exciting format.

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