Ayr Advertiser

Canadian band set for Burns museum concert

- Craig Borland craig.borland@newsquest.co.uk

A CONCERT band from Canada is coming to Ayrshire this town to share a stage with local musicians from the town that gave their Ontario home its name.

The Ayr-Paris Band will join forces with the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra for a concert at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum next month.

The concert will be the last on the band’s ‘Highland Holiday’ tour and will be their fifth trip to Ayr in a long associatio­n that dates back more than half a century.

Ayr in Ontario, located 90 minutes away from the United States border at the Niagara Falls, is home to 5383 people and was given its name by Robert Wylie, who emigrated to Canada from Ayrshire in the 19th century and named the new settlement after his Scottish home town.

The band’s links to Ayr, Wylie apart, go back to 1967, when the Beresford Girls’ Choir visited Ontario to celebrate Canada’s centennial.

Since then the Ayr Pipe Band and Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra have formed a lasting relationsh­ip with the Canadian town, and several exchange visits have taken place since then.

The band’s tour of Scotland – its first since 2006 – started in Glasgow on Sunday and features performanc­es at the city’s Fotheringa­y Centre alongside the Glasgow Community Concert Band today in Dundee, at the University Botanic Gardens on Friday, at Balmoral Castle on Saturday, at Fort George in Inverness on Sunday and at Inveraray Castle on August 3.

Their concert at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway is the final performanc­e on their tour, and will take place on August 4 at 2.30pm.

While in Ayr, the band will meet South Ayrshire’s Provost, Iain Campbell, to invite him to send a delegate to the 200th anniversar­y celebratio­ns of the founding of Ayr, Ontario, taking place in 2024.

The band comprises 45 volunteer members of all ages from Ayr and the nearby town of Paris, under the direction of Merry Schmidt.

The band’s members perform regularly at local festivals, churches, remembranc­e services, local retirement homes, Tattoos, at their own pavilion in downtown Ayr and several fundraisin­g events.

They also participat­e in many parades, with an engagement calendar of approximat­ely 26 jobs per year.

As well as five tours of Scotland – the most recent in 2006 – they have toured across North America and throughout Europe.

For the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra, meanwhile, the concert follows hard on the heels of their own tour of North America – though in their case, the trip is to the southern states of the USA.

The orchestra’s tour began with a sold-out concert in Newnan, Georgia, last Thursday with further performanc­es in Memphis, Tennessee, last Saturday, in New Orleans, Louisiana, tomorrow and in Houston, Texas, on Saturday.

Find out more about the AyrParis Band at ayrparisba­nd. com. – and to keep track of the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra’s ‘Southern States Tour’, see the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra page on Facebook.

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