Opera North Projects

A Time and Place – Sam Lee and The Unthanks

The Unthanks project

A Time and Place presents an evening of music inspired by the folk song, stories and poetry of the First World War created for audiences today.

Known for their ability to take traditional repertoire and reinvent it for contemporary ears, Mercury Prize nominated folk artists Sam Lee, Rachel and Becky Unthank collaborate for the first time in this poignant project to mark the centenary of the First World War.

As part of an 11 strong line-up they perform original repertoire from the time alongside new material inspired by personal stories and arrangements to First World War poetry, all against the backdrop of Matthew J Watkins striking video design.

By Sam Lee and The Unthanks

Video design by Matthew J Watkins.

Co-produced by the Barbican, Sounduk, and Opera North, A Time and a Place is part of the Imperial War Museums Centenary Partnership Programme.

Funded by Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation


The Unthanks

Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and the only British folk representation in The Guardian's and Uncut's best albums of last decade (worldwide, all genres), The Unthanks is a family affair for Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, with Rachel married to pianist, producer, arranger and composer, Adrian McNally. Even though McNally has scored symphony scale arrangements for The Unthanks, all three are musically untrained, and put their collective musical vocabulary down to the music they grew up listening to, rather than playing, for which both McNally and the Unthank sisters have parents to thank for. Using the traditional and folk music of the North East of England as a starting point, the influence of Steve Reich, Miles Davis, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, Antony & The Johnsons, King Crimson and Tom Waits can be heard in the band's 7 albums to date.

Sam Lee

Since bursting on to the folk scene at the end of the Noughties, Mercury Prize nominee Sam Lee has blazed a trail as an outstanding singer and song collector. He’s also been the driving force behind the eclectic, award-winning folk club The Nest Collective, which has brought traditional music to all kinds of new stages and venues, as well as the founder of a burgeoning song collectors’ movement that inspires a new generation of performers to draw on living source singers rather than books and records.

Your reaction

'An avid song collector, a folk entrepreneur and singer who sets out to revive lesser-known traditional material in a startlingly unexpected style' Guardian on Sam Lee

‘Intimate, epic, overflowing with feeling and musical intelligence’ The Independent on The Unthanks

Performance history

Birmingham Town Hall

Wednesday 17th September 2014

The Barbican, London

Thursday 18th September 2014

Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

Friday 19th September 2014

Get in touch

If you're interested to learn more about any of our initiatives, or would like to get involved, please contact us on...

Phone: +44 (0)113 243 9999
Address: Opera North Grand Theatre,
46 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NU

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