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Devised and directed by Clare Salaman

Inspired by Francis Bacon's investigations into the magical properties of sound, The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments presents music of the seventeenth century played on extraordinary instruments within an intriguing modern context.
What the Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments have concocted in ‘Sound House’ is a wondrous journey through a realm of unimaginable sonic possibilities; travel with them, and I guarantee that you will never think of sound in the same way again. Early Music Today
Although Francis Bacon, 17th century philosopher, statesman and visionary, is widely regarded as the father of modern science, his investigations into the nature of sound are little known. He was intrigued by seemingly magical effects like echoes and sympathetic vibration and sought to explain them through a series of experiments in, and observations of, sound.

Combining modern sound technology with ancient instruments, The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments explore the aural illusions that so intrigued Francis Bacon and our 17th century forbears with fresh interpretations of 17th century music linked to each other by newly composed pieces. The performers play unusual and historically appropriate instruments including the mysterious violone, the jangling bray harp and the little known viola bastarda.

Seated in the centre of the room, with listeners all around them, the quintet of players segued from one piece to another, from crisp Renaissance dance to jagged electronic improvisation, blending into their performance readings from Bacon’s writings and even explanations of the music and instruments we were hearing. It was thoroughly seductive, as informative as it was entertaining (and sometimes simply baffling), and the Society’s performances were eager, enthusiastic and lithe throughout. Best of all, it wore its evident scholarship very lightly – Sound House never felt puffed up its own cleverness, clever though it certainly was. Instead, it was simply captivating, in its own musical and philosophical terms. The Arts Desk
Anyone who has experienced an SSAI performance can testify as to the impressive visual and aural spectacle that they produce, and their vibrant, carefree virtuosity was as enthralling as ever. Early Music Today


Jon Banks : santouri, gothic harp, percussion
‘fomidably qualified, multi-talented, full of energy and daring’ Early Music Review

Jean Kelly : gothic bray harp, triple harp
'elegant, stylish and deliciously nuanced playing' Irish Independent

Alison McGillivray : violone, viola bastarda
‘superbly expressive and imaginative playing’ Early Music Today

Jon Nicholls : sound designer and composer
'gorgeous, unearthly music' The Times

Clare Salaman: tromba marina, nyckelharpa
'beautiful vehement playing' Daily Telegraph

Terence Wilton : narrator
'Terence Wilton delivers his famous paean to Cleopatra so beautifully and so tenderly that it makes you shiver' The Times

We gratefully acknowledge the support of Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation, Aldeburgh Music and The Golsoncott Foundation.

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