Listen from the living room
Moro, meaning ‘fun’ in Norwegian, are a husband and wife team who have embarked on a musical journey into the early medieval world. Originally Moro were due to be performing live at Sutton Hoo’s Royal Burial Ground this May, but sadly this has not been possible. Instead though, Moro have recorded this video performance in their living room which you can listen to from the comfort of your own home.
Before we listen though, let’s learn a bit more about them.
Thank you for recording this special video just for us. Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
We are Spike and Ilja Bakker, husband and wife from the Netherlands, and together we are Moro. We got into re-enactment in the summer of 2016, after visiting a Viking market at Schothorst park in the Netherlands. We fell in love with the atmosphere there and started out as Viking age re-enactors soon after.
So from Viking age re-enactors, how did you find yourselves travelling further back in time to the Anglo-Saxon period?
Spike, being a musician for all his life, wanted to know more about the kind of instruments that were played back then and we were lucky enough to meet some amazing instrument builders and bought a 6 string Germanic lyre. Of course, after that it wouldn't take long for us to find out about the wonderful lyre found at Sutton Hoo.
We visited the British Museum and Sutton Hoo in 2017 and... fell in love again! This time with the early Anglo-Saxon era. And since Spike's mother is from England and spent most of her youth very close to Taplow, where another Anglo-Saxon lyre was found, it all fell into place. So, we decided to go back in time, figuratively speaking.... We left the Viking age behind and started reading up on the early Anglo-Saxons.
Excellent choice. So, do you both play the lyre?
Yes, Spike got Ilja enthusiastic enough to try her hand at singing and playing the lyre too. This meant we needed another lyre! So, we got one... And another... And then one more!
Quite a collection then! Can you tell us a little bit more about the instruments that you play?
Our instruments are all close historical replicas of archaeological finds. We own several Germanic and Anglo-Saxon lyres, based on the finds at Sutton Hoo, Taplow, Trossingen, Cologne and Oberflacht. Besides those, we also play the 11th century Jouhiko (a bowed lyre), a 4th century Lur (a blowing horn which makes a lot of noise!), a swanbone flute and a 12th century Sámi drum.
What’s your favourite song to play?
Our favourite song might just be one called Grendel, it's about the monster from the Anglo-Saxon poem, ‘Beowulf.’ We wrote it as a two-way mirror, one is the view of the hero, and one is the view of Grendel. It's a very moody song, played on the bowed lyre and drums.
How did the idea of playing from your living room come about?
Sutton Hoo has a special place in our hearts, and we were planning to visit again this May. We had a whole Anglo-Saxon holiday planned!
Originally when members of staff from the site heard that we wished to play some songs in honour of the great king buried in the Great Ship Burial, they asked us if we wanted to do a proper performance at the Royal Burial Ground, well... of course! Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be, but we still wanted to share our music with you all.
Even though we can't come to Sutton Hoo now, we WILL come and play for you in the future! In the meantime, though we hope that you enjoy this performance.
Watch Moro's performance here: