Bengal to Bethnal Green

Based in East London, Grand Union has been bringing Bengal to Bethnal Green for more than two decades - working with local artists, projects with young people and the Bengali community, enchanting audiences...

Our flagship programme Bengal to Bethnal Green has been running monthly on Sunday afternoons at Rich Mix for over five years. It features popular local Bengali artists in collaboration with Grand Union musicians from other musical traditions worldwide, and is directed by our internationally celebrated tabla maestro  Yousuf Ali Khan.

The music is based on Bengali songs, both in traditional form and combined with other musical cultures and contemporary styles, reflecting the wide variety of music in London's East End today.

The last event in the current series is on  Sunday March 5th. A new series will begin in the Autumn. As entrance is free, we rely very much on public donations. If you would like to subscribe to keep this unique venture alive, click here for further details or sign up through this online form.

 

Grand Union musicians also visit Bangladesh from time to time, working with well-known artists there. Here are two famous singers performing with the Grand Union Orchestra, in special arrangements by Tony Haynes at the Tower Hamlets Boishakhi Mela:

               





And here is a 25 minute documentary of one of our visits to Dhaka, where you can see us meeting and rehearsing with these musicians, Sumi and Kala Miah for those Mela performances:

               


Tony Haynes also writes remarkable songs featuring Bengali artists for Grand Union's major touring shows in collaboration with distinguished Bangladeshi writers. Here in  Now Comes the Dragon's Hour, a Brick Lane waiter recalls the rain clattering on his tin roof back in Sylhet, and sings nostalgically of the wife he left back home:


The same two singers, Akash Sultan and Lucy Rahman, are also heard in this highly dramatic song from  If Paradise:


Yousuf Ali Khan is also a respected teacher and he and Grand Union musicians frequently arrange outreach workshops and participatory projects in local schools and adult community locations.

               

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