Broadside Ballads at the Foundling Museum

This coming Spring the Museum will play host to an exciting new folk music project, Broadside Ballads.

This special touring project sees three of the UK’s most innovative folk artists collaborate for the first time to reinvent a collection of British broadsides – low cost daily song sheets sold for pence – giving a rare insight into Britain’s music, literature and political history. Delving into the collection of broadsides at the Bodleian Libraries and beyond, Foundling Fellow Sam Lee, Lisa Knapp and Nathaniel Mann lead a five-piece band, bringing broadside ballads to life for a new generation. The group will perform the ballads at a collection of UK venues in Spring 2017, including the Foundling Museum on 26 February.

A broadside (also known as a broadsheet) is a single sheet of inexpensive paper printed on one side, often with a ballad, rhyme, news and sometimes with woodcut illustrations. Broadside ballads, from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries, contain words and images once displayed and sung daily in Britain’s streets and inns. Although part of living traditions of folksong, popular art and literature, these illustrated printed sheets are now rare and preserved in only a few libraries. As part of the development of this special touring project, the artists will spend time together at the Bodleian Libraries, undertaking research to inspire new arrangements and original material for their uniquely contemporary take on broadside ballads.

Sublime singer and fiddle player Lisa Knapp’s debut album Wild & Undaunted propelled her onto the folk scene with refreshing interpretations of traditional folk and highly original songs. Her second album won rave reviews and its track Two Ravens the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Original Track in 2014. Her unique and imaginative use of national institution the Shipping Forecast led to BBC Radio 4’s invitation to present the fascinating documentary Shipping Songs. Lisa continues to tour with her band and feature in prestigious projects rooted in the folk idiom but by no means bound by it.

Sam Lee has blazed a dizzying trail as a song collector and singer, well-loved for his rich, resonant voice. With his debut album Ground of its Own nominated for the 2012 Mercury Music Prize, Sam was quickly established as one of the folk scene’s most exciting figures. His second album was similarly feted with a track winning Best Traditional Song at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2016, performances at Royal Albert Hall and BBC TV’s Later with Jools. Sam is currently recording music for the film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie’s next Hollywood offering.

Nathaniel Mann is a performer, experimental composer and sound artist. He is well known for his work within Dead Rat Orchestra and his compositions and performances which incorporate instrument building, ethnography, folklore and storytelling. Notable projects include the award-winning Pigeon Whistles for custom pigeon-flutes and 14 Birmingham Roller Pigeons and Rough Music for bespoke bronze meat cleavers, alongside scores for London Contemporary Orchestra and BBC Scotland.

Produced by Sound UK and Oxford Contemporary Music. Supported by Bodleian Libraries. Funded by Arts Council England.


Sunday 26 February 12:00 & 16:30

Advance tickets £12.50 / £15 on the door / £10 concessions & Foundling Friends

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