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Had We Never

Robert Burns: Chains and Slavery
17 - 18 August 2017
Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Poet and Makar Jackie Kay, singer-songwriter Ghetto Priest, bass Brian Bannatyne-Scott and renowned countertenor David James come together with members of the Scottish Ensemble for four very special late-night concerts exploring Robert Burns, slavery and Scotland, in the magnificent and atmospheric Great Hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The concert was inspired by two Burns-related exhibitions featuring the work of the eminent contemporary Scottish artists Douglas Gordon and Graham Fagen. Sally Beamish's new setting of Burns's The Slave's Lament will received its first live performance by Ghetto Priest and the Scottish Ensemble. David James, formerly of the Hilliard Ensemble, sang Arvo Pärt's exquisite and haunting arrangement of Burns's My Heart's in the Highlands, a piece that was specially written for him.

Jackie Kay gave a reading of a poem that she had composed for the occasion.

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  • Running time: 
    50mins approx


Scottish National Portrait Gallery

1 Queen Street,



Jackie Kay writer

David James Countertenor
Brian Bannatyne-Scott Bass
Ghetto Priest Reggae singer

Scottish Ensemble
Jonathan Morton Violin
Alison Lawrance Cello
Diane Clark Double bass

Jan Waterfield Chamber organ

Music Sally Beamish, Arvo Pärt, traditional Burns settings

More information about some of the artists

Jackie Kay

Brian Bannatyne-Scott

Ghetto Priest
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Scottish Ensemble
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jan Waterfield
Website | Twitter

This event was part of a previous International Festival and is therefore unavailable to book.

The 2018 International Festival will be available to browse online in the spring.


All tickets: £25

Current discounts

Under 18s: 50% OFF
Young Scot cardholders: 50% OFF