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Clare Salaman

Director, Nyckelharpa, Hurdy Gurdy, Hardanger Fiddle, Medieval Vielle

Beautiful vehement playing’ The Telegraph

I was brought up in a house with no TV. It was full of musical instruments though and playing music seemed a great way to pass the time. Old habits die hard.

I have always been drawn to interesting sounds, especially those which include plenty of jangle and scrape. A holiday job, cataloging the instruments in the Pitt Rivers ethnographic museum fed my curiosity and one thing led to another - first baroque violin, then hurdy gurdy, nyckelharpa, Hardanger violin and medieval vielle. These instruments introduced me to new worlds of musical repertoire.

My first job - a position in The English Concert – instigated five years of touring the world with period instrument orchestras but since then my work has become increasingly diverse. I have played accordion with a contemporary dance theatre company, been a member of the Dufay Collective and The Ian McMillan Orchestra, and have made a music theatre piece involving boa constrictors with Tanzanian street kids. I have also composed music for theatre, led projects in the Royal Academy of Music and other conservatoires and enjoyed many exciting collaborations with musicians from different musical traditions. This year I have written and presented a couple of programmes for BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show which I have found immensely enjoyable and satisfying.

I founded The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments in 2010 and this is now my main focus. The organisation includes a forum for discussion through social media and an active performance group. Through it, I am able to share my love for the colourful world of strange and ancient instruments and play with some of the most imaginative and creative musicians I know.