Thursday, January 5, 2012

Inaugural Burns Supper Slated for U. Club

Whisky, Haggis and Poetry are on the bill of fare for Friday, January 27, 2012

“Some have meat and cannot eat,
Some cannot eat that want it;
But we have meat and we can eat,
So let the Lord be thankit.”

-- The Selkirk Grace by Robert Burns

On Friday, January 27 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., the University Club will celebrate all things Scottish with its first annual Burns Supper at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany, 141 Washington Avenue at Dove Street. The University Club of Albany Foundation, Inc. is presenting this event, and one need not be a member of the University Club to attend.

Robert Burns (January 25, 1759-July 21, 1796) is one of the most enduringly popular and important poets of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and is widely regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. Having witnessed his father’s struggles with poverty, Burns became a vigorous social and political critic, championing civil and economic equality for all people, especially the working class. Much of his work reflects his social, moral and philosophical values.

According to the official Robert Burns website, www.robertburns.org, “Burns Suppers range from stentoriously formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to uproariously informal rave-ups of drunkards and louts. Most Burns Suppers … adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honored form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard.”

The U. Club’s Burns Supper is aiming squarely between the formal and the rave-up. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with cocktails followed by a bagpipe procession to the dining room and a dinner buffet complete with the presentation of the haggis, cock-a-leekie soup, neeps and tatties, and plenty of other dining options including poached salmon and chicken française.

Event chair Meredith Helgerson, who has hosted several Burns Suppers, will lead participants in songs, whisky toasts and poetry and continue Albany’s long tradition of celebrating Robert Burns. The Robert Burns Statue in Washington Park, the site of the annual “Poets in the Park” poetry series, was designed by George H. Broughton and sculpted by Charles Calverley, both Albany artists. The statue was dedicated on September 30, 1888, and relief plaques on the base were added in April, 1891. The sculpture cost $40,000 and was erected with funds provided by the McPherson Legacy.

In the life-size bronze statue, Burns is depicted holding a book in his right hand and a tam in his left hand. The square Scotch granite base is adorned with four bronze relief plaques depicting: “The Cotter’s Saturday Night” (a family seated around a father reading aloud from a book); “The Poet Plowman and the Daisy” (Burns standing with his horse and dog in a field); “Tam O’Shanter” (a man galloping away on his horse while spirits chase him); and “Auld Lang Syne” (two men having a drink together and shaking hands across a table).

This promises to be an unforgettable evening, whether or not you claim Scottish heritage! The cost for dinner and entertainment is $40 per person, two for $75, cash or check made payable to the University Club of Albany Foundation. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the Club at 518-463-1151. Formal or Highland attire optional.
The University Club Foundation, a 501c3 corporation, was formed to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the University Club building and property, its historic neighborhood and the city of Albany, where it has been located since its inception in 1901.

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