18-20 April 2018 | University of Edinburgh

Robert Burns Poetry

We will welcome the Edinburgh University Singers as part of our opening ceremony on 18 April. One of the University’s many choirs, the Singers is the official choir and they will perform songs of poems by Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland. If you are interested in learning more about Robert Burns’ poetry, there is a wealth of information both online and in print. The wonderful Scottish Poetry Library, located in the Old Town of Edinburgh, has a very useful online resource that can act as a starting point for learning more about the poet and his works. The SPL starts their biography of Robert Burns thus: “If ever a poet understood the character of his nation, he was Robert Burns. The language he was most fluent in wasn’t so much Scots or English – it was the language of the heart. All too human in his personal life, he carried that humanity over onto the page. Nothing was too small or too large to escape his notice, from a mouse in the mud to God in his heavens. A poet for all seasons, Burns speaks to all, soul to soul.” What more fitting way to start a conference on Social Work research in the Scottish capital?

Bagpipes and Folk Music

We will also follow the Scottish tradition of ‘piping in the guests’. At the reception on 18 April, a bagpiper will be ensuring that the conference delegates are welcomed to the venue in true Scottish fashion. A part of many occasions in Scotland, such as weddings, Burns’ Suppers, Gala days, festivals, functions and even funerals, we often invite a bagpiper to provide a traditional focal point at the start of an event.

Bagpipes are one of the most traditional Scottish instruments (together with fiddle and clarsach harp) but we are by no means the only country with a bagpiping tradition. Conference delegates from France, Spain, Portugal, the Balkans, Turkey and many other countries may recognise similarities between our Scottish Great Highland Bagpipes and the different versions of bagpipes present in many musical traditions around the world. Those who are especially interested in folk music can find excellent opportunities in Edinburgh, both in the form of folk music performed every evening in three pubs close to the conference venue (Sandy Bells, Captain’s Bar and The Royal Oak) as well as specialised shops such as Coda Music (for CDs etc) or Bagpipe Galore. Those who combine their conference trip with a visit to Glasgow could also visit The National Piping Centre.