Castlebay performs the works of Scottish poet Robert Burns on Feb. 4 at Chocolate Church in Bath. Courtesy photo

Folk duo Castlebay will celebrate the birthday of the poet Robert Burns during a performance at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Chocolate Church annex on Washington Street in Bath.

Known for their sensitive arrangements of traditional music, Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee support their singing with a variety of instruments including Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle and woodwinds. Having thoroughly studied Robert Burns, their program intersperses romantic love songs with lively period dance tunes as well as poems and anecdotes about Scotland’s national poet. 

Burns (1759-1796) collected and wrote new lyrics for hundreds of traditional Scottish folk tunes which he felt were falling into obscurity. Working in the Scots language of the lowlands, which is distinct from the Gaelic of the highlands and islands, he produced many masterpieces of 18th century poetry and song which gained worldwide popularity. Among these are “My Love is Like a Red Red Rose,” “Comin’ Through the Rye” and “Auld Lang Syne,” sung even today at New Year’s celebrations. Controversial during his lifetime, his short but colorful life has become the subject of both legend and scholarly documentary.

Castlebay has presented performances for arts centers, concert series, museums and schools from the Canadian Maritimes to Florida. They have recorded several albums of both traditional and original work including “Rantin’ Rovin’ Robin” which contains all Robert Burns songs and “Ae Fond Kiss” with seven compositions by the poet. In addition to concerts and recordings, Castlebay has a commitment to cultural education, and they have collaborated on multimedia folklore programs with Scottish musicians in their home country.

This concert will include a special guest as the duo will be joined by former band-mate Mark McNeil of West Bath. McNeil will contribute his multi-instrumental expertise to further enrich the sound of these timeless songs.

Tickets are $18 in advance or $22 at the door. Contact the box office at (207) 442-8455, email [email protected] or visit chocolatechurcharts.org/event-data/2023-02-04-castlebay. For more information about Castlebay, visit castlebay.net.

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