Fergus Muirhead has a long history of playing music and speaking at these wonderful celebrations of the life of one of Scotland’s most famous poets. These photographs show Fergus reciting Tam O’Shanter at the British Chamber of Commerce Burns Night in Barcelona in January 2017. As can be gathered from the comments below this recital has been practiced and honed over a long number of years, so much so that it really comes alive in Fergus’s very capable hands, allowing the audience, many of whom don’t have English, or Scottish, as a first language, to completely understand what happens ‘whene’er tae drink you are inclin’d, or cutty sarks run in your mind.’
“I still can’t believe I saw Fergus do the Tam-o’-Shanter. It was personal, dramatic, and totally enveloping for all of us who were present. Not only did he recite a long poem by heart, but he lived it right in front of us in the most vivid way.”
Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2 and Eggheads Presenter
“Early in my career I ran hotels and pubs throughout the UK – and a regular feature in each venue was my Annual Burns Supper. Since then I have organised numerous Charity Burns Suppers (often 2 or 3 a year) and I even ran a Burns Supper for The Professional Speaking Association (UK & Ireland) In that time I have seen and hosted many speakers, singers, toasters and Haggis Addressers; – over the course of 35 years, I’ve probably hosted or attended over 100 Burns events and seen 2-300 contributors to the evening I suppose you could say, I’ve been around a bit and seen some great tributes to the Bard and a couple that have left some ‘room for improvement’. In that time, the stand out Speaker and Piper has been Fergus Muirhead – his piping is second to none (not only does he bless us with some of Rabbie’s songs on the pipes but I’ve also heard him throw in a bit of Bob Dylan, Madonna and even Lady Gaga for a bit of laugh. HOWEVER, I have also been lucky enough to be in the room to witness Fergus recite The Bard’s Tam O’Shanter – without doubt, it is THE best Burns Tribute I have ever seen. When I hosted the Burns Supper for The Professional Speaking Association the room was packed with over 100 of the top Speakers in the UK… tough gig – Fergus blew the roof off – to this day I still get compliments on the night and about Fergus in particular. Fergus, lang may yer lumb reek”
Stuart Harris, Chair, Professional Speakers Association in Scotland
“Fergus Muirhead, the authentic voice of Burns. You’ll never hear a better rendition of his poetry.”
Chris Hughes BBC Egghead
“Tam O’Shanter is one of the great literary performance pieces, and Fergus Muirhead certainly doesn’t disappoint. His ability to conjure up both the text, in the flow of its words and images in Burns’ inimitable style, and the tradition of performance, with the use of external aids such as a wee dram or three, is exemplary. Wonderful and thoroughly recommended.”
Kevin – BBC Egghead
“For this Sassenach, a Burns night supper spent in the company of Fergus was an experience not to be forgotten. Haggis, neeps and tatties washed down with whisky, was followed by an earth shattering blast on the bagpipes and then the company settled down for a rendition of Tam o Shanter. Fergus did an astonishing performance in such an authentically Scottish dialect that I only understood about a quarter of it and had to look up the story afterwards. It was after this evening that I fully realised for the first time that Scotland is another country.”
Judith Keppel, BBC Egghead
“We worked with Fergus for our first ever Burns Night in Barcelona, and I can honestly say that he is an absolute star, both in terms of his performance on the night and in the lead up to the event. He was always available at the end of the phone for any queries we had, and his kindness and support was invaluable. The event really would not have gone even half so smoothly or been anywhere near as enjoyable without his help and professionalism. On the night, he was incredibly professional, talented and entertaining in his performance of the Tam O’Shanter poem and helping guests to learn the dances – a definite highlight for many of our guests! I would not hesitate to recommend him, and we will definitely be looking to work with him again in future!”
Eva Prada, Director British Chamber of Commerce Barcelona
“We were lucky enough to have Fergus speak and play at our Burns’ Supper in Spain with a very international audience. Fergus and the fantastic accordionist Frazer Mclellan simply MADE the evening. Fergus’ friendly and easy going personality meant that the organization of the event was very straightforward and he was a goldmine of advice on Burns and Burns’ suppers. He delighted the crowd with his piping and his Tam O’Shanter was an unforgettable performance! Complete novices and old-hand ceilidh dancers were soon reeling around our hall thanks to Fergus’ excellent instruction and encouragement and the dancefloor was full from beginning to end. Fergus’ natural warmth and wit made him a pleasure to work with and he will be top of my list for any Burns’ Supper or other events in the future.”
Squadron Leader Andy Barber, RAF.
Fergus has helped me out at a number of events at Abertay and Queen Margaret Unions. This has included Burns Suppers, Graduation Balls, President’s Dinner and Ball and Solo Piping. He even put a band together for us for St Patrick’s Day. He is an excellent piper and speaker and he did a brilliant job as caller and dance demonstrator with our timid international students to create an enjoyable and memorable night for all. I am more than pleased to recommend him to anyone looking for a great night.
Queen Margaret Union.