Sophie Matthews gives a fascinating lecture on instruments and art


THE first conference of the new Arts Society Sarum season started on the right note with a fascinating talk on how art reflects the development of musical instruments.

Early music scholar Sophie Matthews showed works by great painters such as Brueghel, Hogarth and Bosch that demonstrated the social context and perceptions of instruments.

The October 11 meeting then had the opportunity to hear what these ancient instruments sounded like as Sophie played a reproduction of each example.

The company’s Peter Horwood said: “It was amazing to hear the unique tone and evocative sound of these instruments and it brought the historical narrative to life.”

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The conference revolved mainly around the evolution of two instruments, the bagpipe and the shawm (ancestor of the modern oboe).

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Sophie started playing the flute aged 10 but is now best known for her prowess on the English border bagpipes and has become one of the leading players of the instrument in the UK.

She also plays a variety of early wind instruments such as the shawm, rauschpfeife and recorder. She is also one of the few British players of the baroque musette, an 18th century French bagpipe, related to the bagpipes of Northumbria.

Details of future elements of the ongoing lecture series can be found at

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