Events

​Grand Union's priority is live performance, and since 1982 we have toured regularly - and continue to tour - throughout the whole of the UK and to many parts of Europe and the rest of the world.

For work with young  musicians, see also GUYO performances and GUYO workshops pages, and Projects for other activities.
For more on opportunities for intergenerational participation, see the pages for Grand Union Voices and Band Off The Wall.
For our international work, go to Grand Union Abroad.

WE SHALL ANNOUNCE AN AMBITIOUS PROGRAMME OF EVENTS FOR 2021 AT THE END OF JANUARY, TAILORED TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES

Many activities in 2020 were filmed and streamed: details will be found below and on our YOUTH ORCHESTRA pages.

THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE DONE DURING THE LOCKDOWNS...

...published a 'bitesize' newsletter every fortnight, each covering a specific theme:

...Tony Haynes has posted regularly on his Music Blog:

...GUO musicians have produced Lockdown Live sessions weekly on YouTube; here is a selection:

...launched a new Library Channel on YouTube, as an online resource for professional or educational use.
Featuring an unimaginable range of instruments and singing styles worldwide, it brings together essentially lyric or narrative pieces from the Grand Union canon, ranging from simple arrangements of traditional music to Tony Haynes’s compositions for large-scale shows, especially those involving young musiciansThis Playlist, The Isle is Full of Noises, gives a general overview.

More Playlists group the dramatic material under other subject headings – eg ‘rivers and seas’ ‘jobs and occupations’, ‘conflict’, ‘villains and victims’ and so on. They aim primarily to inspire musical interest and creativity, but for schools they also form an imaginative way in to a range of historical topics (the slave trade, wars of independence, the Silk Road), social issues (disease, migration, inequality), world instruments and dance styles, cultural and political debate, and even languages (widely represented in GUO repertoire). 

...continued to develop our collaboration with the Bangladesh Government and High Commission in London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of Bangladesh as a separate nation in 2021 (full details on out dedicated Bangladesh-UK Programme page).

GUO CONTRIBUTION TO MUJIB YEAR SO FAR...

We began the project in February, focusing on Bengali music and history, commemorating Martyrs' Day and International Mother Language Day, and launching Grand Union's contribution to the international year of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 'Father of the Nation' and the 50th of his country's independence.

Sunday February 16th, Rich Mix - Bengal to Bethnal Green
This much-loved series, directed by tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan,  launched the project, singer Amith Dey with songs by the legendary poet/baul singer Lalon Shah.

Wednesday February 19th, Poplar Union - open workshops
Yousuf Ali Khan and musicians from the Re:Generation Band led a one-day workshop commemorating Language Day and Martyrs' Day (February 21st)

Friday February 21st, Poplar Union - GU Re:Generation Band 
Special programme for Language Day/Martyrs' Day featuring young musicians

Sunday March 1st, Rich Mix - Bengal to Bethnal Green
Lucy Rahman singing songs by her father Sheikh Luthfur Rahman, a celebrated singer/songwriter and activist in the independence struggle.

OCTOBER - still available on YouTube Live or FaceBook

Friday 2nd – Sounding Bethnal GreenSt John on Bethnal Green
200 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA

The first of this year’s series celebrated Black History Month, focusing on the music of Latin America. Andres Lafone (Uruguay) talks about his experience as a South American musician in London, and with Carlos Fuentes (Chile) performs a range of Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music. WATCH HERE

Sunday 4th – Grand Union Orchestra (GUYO) masterclass, Rich Mix
35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
The autumn masterclasses centred on the art of improvisation. Sessions were run live, with physical distancing, and filmed for wider distribution (details to follow). The first was led by Shanti Jayasinha (trumpet and cello), expert in both Cuban and Indian music.

Friday 9th – Sounding Bethnal GreenSt John's Church 
The second Black History Month event features singer Alaur Rahman from Bangladesh, with one of Yousuf Ali Khan's tabla students Mahesh Parkar, introducing a wide variety of South Asian music from Bengali baul songs to Indian classical ragas. WATCH HERE

Friday 16th – Sounding Bethnal GreenSt John's Church

The third session features  Ruijun Hu playing dizi and xiao - an astonishing array of Chinese bamboo flutes - describing their character and origin, and playing a  programme ranging from ancient classical music to regional folksongs. WATCH HERE

Friday 23rd – Sounding Bethnal GreenSt John's Church
The African session this year centres on the celebrated Somali oud player Mohammed Maalow Nuur, who also sings and plays traditional hand drums, and South African trumpeter and drummer Claude Deppa, the director of this series. WATCH HERE

Tuesday 27th to Thursday 29th – open workshops, Rich Mix
'SITTING IN WITH THE GRAND UNION ORCHESTRA' 
Unable to run our annual residential summer school this year due to the pandemic, we replaced it with a three-day half-term residency on the theme of ‘improvisation’ - see this blog post. With a handful of young musicians working live in a Covid-safe environment, sessions were streamed live for musicians at home to join in, ‘sitting in with the Grand Union Orchestra’. It finished with a performance of the work created with and by the young musicians. Details of how it worked can be found HERE, videos of the individual workshops will be available later in December.

Friday 30th – Sounding Bethnal GreenSt John's Church
The finale of this year’s Black History Month programme aptly puts the Caribbean centre stage, celebrating the Windrush generation and their families, in a joyous festive hotpot of reggae, ska, calypso and soca grooves conjured up by the trumpet of Jamaican Kevin Robinson, joined by performers from previous events. WATCH HERE

We shall continue to place material online, will start a new programme in February 2021 (whether live or online), and hope to resume full-scale performance and participatory projects by April. 

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