On 29 January 2020, as the United Kingdom departed the European Union (EU) and as a final gesture of farewell, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) took to their feet in Brussels, held hands and sang Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne - a song which has come to represent solidarity, friendship and open doors. The following week, Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh stood in the Robert Burns Monument in Edinburgh and conceived of Song of the Union, a sound installation featuring singers from all 27 EU member states living in Scotland today, as well as one from the recently departed UK. The resulting polyphonic choir gives voice to those who were unable to vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and has been created at a time when the post-Brexit reality is still far from resolved.
Song of the Union includes scores of Auld Lang Syne translated into the 27 languages of the EU. Musicologist M. J. Grant provides the historical context of the song Auld Lang Syne, its connection to Robert Burns, and how the song came to be sung by communities across the world from the 19th century onwards. Berlin based curator and author Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung's reflects on the capacity that language has for possession and negotiating language and translation in Ogboh's work and Kirsty Hughes, Director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, explores how Brexit happened and what may be next for Scotland and the UK.