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 Youth Orchestra events, see also GUYO performances and GUYO workshops pages, and Projects for other activities.
For more on opportunities for participation, see the pages for Grand Union Voices and Band Off The Wall.

WE HAVE RESUMED LIVE PROJECTS, IN COMPLIANCE WITH COVID-19 REGULATIONS, WITH ALL REQUIRED SAFETY MEASURES IN PLACE.

However, because of rising Covid-19 infections in Tower Hamlets, we have reluctantly decided not to admit the general public, but only an invited audience. Events will be filmed and streamed, but if you would like to attend any in person, please emaiI a request to mail@grandunion.org.uk with the subject line GUO INVITATION. Thank you for your forbearance.

PROGRAMME FOR october 2020

Friday 2nd, 7.00-8.30pm – Sounding Bethnal Green
St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
Admission by invitation: pay what you can afford
The first of this year’s series celebrating Black History Month focuses 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. Flyer

Sunday 4th, 10.00 - 1.30, Rich Mix – GUYO masterclass
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
The autumn masterclasses centre on the art of improvisation, and the first session is led by Shanti Jayasinha, expert in both Cuban and South Asian music. The sessions will be run live, with physical distancing, and filmed for wider distribution. Participants must bring their own instruments, including percussion.

Friday 9th, 7.00-8.30pm – Sounding Bethnal Green
St John on Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA
Admission by invitation: pay what you can afford
The second event in our Black History Month programme features the distinguished singer Alaur Rahman from Bangladesh, together with one of Yousuf Ali Khan's students Mahesh Parkar on tabla, introducing a wide variety of South Asian music from Bengali baul songs to Indian classical ragas. Flyer

You're not too late - WATCH HERE!

Friday 16th, 7.00-8.30pm – Sounding Bethnal Green
St John on Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA
Admission by invitation: pay what you can afford
The third session features Ruijun Hu playing dizi and xiao - an astonishing array of Chinese bamboo flutes. He will describe their character and origin, demonstrating them in a programme ranging from classical music of ancient dynasties through regional folksong to more modern Chinese styles.  Flyer

Friday 23rd, 7.00-8.30pm – Sounding Bethnal Green
St John on Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA
Admission by invitation: pay what you can afford
Our 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 programme. Flyer

Tuesday 27th to Thursday 29th, 10.00-6.00 – open workshops
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Due to the pandemic, we were unable to run our annual residential summer school this year, but have replaced it with this three-day residency. The theme is ‘improvisation’, and appropriately we shall be making up the programme as we go along! (See this blog post.) We can accommodate about 20 young musicians, in a Covid-safe environment, but will also be streaming the sessions live, so that musicians at home can join in, ‘Sitting in with the Grand Union Orchestra’. Keep an eye on this website, where updates will be published regularly.

Friday 30th, 7.00-8.30pm – Sounding Bethnal Green
St John on Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA
Admission by invitation: pay what you can afford
The finale of this year’s Black History Month series aptly puts the Caribbean centre stage. It celebrates 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 the previous events. Flyer

NOVEMBER (more dates to follow, and for December)
Sunday 9th, 10.00 - 1.30, Rich Mix – GUYO masterclass
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Like the first masterclass, this also centres on the art of improvisation, led by legendary jazz saxophonist Tony Kofi, whose parents came originally from Ghana. The sessions will be run live, with physical distancing, and filmed for wider distribution. Participants must bring their own instruments, including percussion.

THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE DONE SINCE LOCKDOWN...

...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). 

GUO CONTRIBUTION TO MUJIB YEAR SO FAR...

We began a brand new 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 (described on our new Bangladesh-UK Programme page).

Sunday February 16th, Rich Mix - Bengal to Bethnal Green
This much-loved series, directed by tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan, thus returned in a new guise, launched by 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 for young musicians commemorating Language Day and Martyrs' Day (February 21st)

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

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

Stay In Touch