A multi international award winning young Edinburgh composer and musician, 14 year old Viktor Seifert, has composed a special piece of music to be performed as a world premiere to celebrate the 200th anniversaries of the Union and Caledonian Canals.

Viktor’s composition entitled “Union Caledonian 200” was commissioned by renowned Edinburgh based Luthier Steve Burnett, who has also marked this exciting bicentennial occasion by making a set of four stringed instruments partly crafted out of wood from a willow tree that blew down in Harrison Park on the Union Canal.

The premiere performance of Viktor’s composition will be played upon these unique instruments “The Union Caledonian 200 String Quartet” on-board a canal boat at Harrison Park, Edinburgh, on Friday 20th May as part of the year-long celebrations marking the important bicentennial anniversary of the Union Canal.

Scottish Waterways for All, working in partnership with Scottish Canals, are organising a large flotilla on the Union Canal on the weekend of 20th – 22nd May 2022, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the opening of the canal. The muster point at Harrison Park (one of the stopping points for the flotilla) is being organised by the newly formed Edinburgh Union Canal Society, who are based at the very attractive boat house opposite Harrison Park.


“all the parts of this story really do link together in a unique way. Who would have thought that a tree brought down by a storm in an Edinburgh park adjacent to a redundant canal some 20 years ago, would be used to create four stunning instruments, which would then be used to play a specially composed piece of music celebrating the 200th anniversary of the very same canal.” - Stuart Rennie a spokesperson for Scottish Waterways for All 


“The instruments are also a tribute to 19th Century Canal Engineers, including Thomas Telford, and were individually handcrafted from wood of an old Union Canal Willow that sadly came down in the millennium storm, and other wood collected on the banks of the Caledonian Canal” - Steve Burnett, manufacturer of The Union Caledonian 200 String Quartet 

Burnett who is known for making instruments from wood of historically connected trees -including the Arthur Conan Doyle and Wilfred Owen String Quartet’s ,and The Shackleton Violin-has collaborated with Viktor and other Artists, in past community events highlighting important Nature Conservation issues through the power of Art and Music.”

The Union Canal Flotilla 200 will commence from both ends of the canal, with boats initially mustering at Lochrin Basin Edinburgh in the east, and The Falkirk Wheel in the west, before the two separate flotillas converge on the Saturday afternoon at Manse Road Basin in Linlithgow, one of the original canal stabling posts, and still home to the very active Linlithgow Union Canal Society.

The flotilla from the east, commencing at Lochrin Basin Edinburgh, will stop off at Harrison Park where the specially composed piece of music will be played to the boaters and spectators on the towpath before heading west towards its next meeting point at the Prince Charlie Aqueduct at Slateford.

“This is a historic year for Scotland’s canals and we’re delighted our partners, boaters, canal users and communities are coming together in such a variety of ways to help us celebrate all our canals history and all they have to offer.

“The Union Canal Flotilla 200 is our first big event of the year and for it to include this world first performance is the icing on the cake. We hope to see lots of people on the canal banks, and on the water enjoying the occasion.” - Richard Millar, Chief Operating Officer at Scottish Canals

Connecting Edinburgh to Glasgow, via the world famous Falkirk Wheel and the Forth & Clyde Canal, the 31 miles of Union Canal flows through some spectacular scenery and passes over a number of mighty aqueducts, including the Avon Aqueduct near Linlithgow – one of the UK’s highest and longest – a true testament to the engineering skills in existence 200 years ago.

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact:

Stuart Rennie at Scottish Waterways for All on:

07847 611398 or email swfa.news@gmail.com

Nicola Sturgeon at Scottish Canals on:

07767 383557 or email Nicola.sturgeon@scottishcanals.co.uk

Steve Burnett at Steve Burnett Violin Makers

07812 855103 or email: steve@burnettviolins.co.uk

The Union Canal

  • The Union Canal, together with the Forth & Clyde and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands, together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness
  • The Union Canal is recognised as a Scheduled Monument and together with the other canals in the network, attracts 20 million visits per year.

Steve Burnett Violin Maker

  • Steve Burnett, based in his Edinburgh workshop hand crafts the finest Violins, Violas and Cellos using traditional Italian methods and materials.
  • Steve builds his violins, violas and cellos in the classical Italian tradition. His main influences are Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù (the maker of Niccolò Paganini’s famous violin), Matteo Gofriller, Domenico Montagnana as well as others.

About Scottish Canals

  • Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of five of Scotland’s canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel.
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles
  • Today Scottish Canals is utilising these 18th century assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems. Through working with partners to create pioneering systems, Scottish Canals is helping to combat flooding and driving positive transformation in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 20 million visits per year. See www.scottishcanals.co.uk for more information

Blue-Green Algae blooms

14 Jun 2024
Forth & Clyde Canal