Christmas Concert
Event 13
Friday 15th December, 8:00pm 
Little Missenden Church

The Longest Night - A Norwegian Fable
The Society of Strange
and Ancient Instruments

Clare Salaman nyckelharpa, hurdy gurdy, tromba marina  Benedicte Maurseth Hardanger fiddle, vocals  Jean Kelly triple harp, bray harp, clarsach

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This year, our renowned Christmas Concert will be presented by The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments, who will celebrate...

The Longest Night...when spirits, gnomes and trolls roam the land

In Norway, the festival of Lussinatten celebrates the longest night of the year - typically the 13th December. Legend has it that on this night Lussi, a feared enchantress, punishes anyone who dares to work and, from Lussinatten until Christmas, spirits, gnomes and trolls roam the land. The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments celebrates The Longest Night with devilish tunes, ancient Norwegian and English folk songs and other musical treats.

'The music you played was captivating. I was watching the audience - it is a very eclectic mix of staff, students and the local community and I suspect many had not experienced this sort of music before. From their response and then interest in the instruments after the concert, they were clearly hooked.' Director of Music, University of Kent


Award-winning Norwegian Hardanger fiddle player and singer, Benedicte Maurseth, The Society of Strange and Ancient Instrument’s director, Clare Salaman, and harpist, Jean Kelly, play an array of beautiful and unusual instruments – Hardanger fiddles, Swedish nyckelharpa, hurdy gurdy, celtic and triple harps and an astonishing two-metre-long tromba marina. Their collaboration has resulted in a repertoire of songs, dances and instrumental pieces which includes music by Playford and Purcell alongside traditional Norwegian Hardanger fiddle tunes and ancient songs.

‘The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments has forged a reputation for being one of our finest exponents of early music. They enchant and amaze in equal measure.' The Musician

'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

'There can be no more satisfying and diverting performers of early music than the Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments.' The Arts Diary


Daphne - composed by Benedicte, based on a 17th Century John Playford tune


We would like to acknowledge the financial assistance given by Music Norway towards Benedicte's costs in travelling to the UK to rehearse and perform at the Festival. The project would have been very difficult to realise without this support.

La Société des Instruments Anciens

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.  
Tickets : £20, £15, £8