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The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments take their inspiration from a group of musicians, La Société des Instruments Anciens, who gave a series of ‘historical performances’ in the Salon Pleyel in Paris in the years around 1900. They played a collection of what were then considered wildly ‘exotic’ instruments; hurdy gurdy, viola d’amore, viola da gamba and harpsichord. To add to the atmosphere of a bygone age the concerts were usually given by candlelight. The programmes that they played were a strange mixture of what might now be described as “easy listening baroque”. Choice, single movements were abstracted from instrumental works and juxtaposed with well known arias from cantatas in a thoroughly entertaining and varied programme. The intention was to enthral the audience with unusual and fresh presentation of music that would have been mostly familiar to them.

In this programme we present the repertoire of our venerable predecessors, playing the instruments used in the original performances, in candlelight if at all possible. This recreation of one of their concerts includes well known pieces by Vivaldi, Bach and Handel alongside less familiar works by Chedeville and Corette, all presented on these fascinating instruments.