The Ministry of Angels explores the music of angels, the maverick and fallen as well as the divine. Using strange and ethereal-sounding instruments, including those traditionally associated with angels, the Society celebrates these heavenly and, occasionally, diabolical beings with this eclectic collection of dances, songs and instrumental pieces. Consummate professionals in the fields of early and traditional music, the Society has created a soundscape that is distinctive, exciting and, at times, heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Instruments that feature on the CD include Baroque guitar, Baroque triple harp, bass violin, bray harp, cajon, clarsach (Celtic harp), dulcimer, hurdy gurdy, leg bells, low bass viol, Medieval harp, nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed fiddle), oud, Renaissance guitar, tabor, three-string bass… and, most strange and ancient of all, the human voice.
The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments was founded in 2010 by Clare Salaman (also of SYM) to explore a musical repertoire that ranges from folk songs and earthy dances to high art music from the13th-18th centuries, and newly composed pieces. The Society takes its inspiration from a group of musicians called La Société des Instruments Anciens who gave a series of performances of ‘easy listening’ Baroque music in Paris in the 1900s. At the time, their instruments – hurdy gurdy, viola d’amore, viola da gamba and harpsichord – were considered wildly exotic, and audiences were enthralled by the group’s fresh, innovative presentation that injected new life into familiar pieces. The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments’ repertoire extends beyond that of the Société to include Medieval, Renaissance and new music, but the aim is still to enchant listeners with the unexpected sounds and sights of their instruments.