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;

ALL OUR PUBLIC PROJECTS IN APRIL, MAY AND JUNE HAVE BEEN POSTPONED, DUE TO COVID-19. THESE ARE THE MAIN EVENTS, WHICH WE SHALL RE-PROGRAMME WHEN CONDITIONS ALLOW...

PROGRAMME FOR 2020 - RE:GENERATION

Throughout 2020, our projects are following the theme of Regeneration. They will bring together a huge range of professional, community and student performers across three generations. Our broad vision for the year was set out in the form New Year Resolution! So far, we have been true to that promise: full details are being published as dates and projects are confirmed.

The February/March programme focused on Bengali music and history, commemorating Martyrs' Day and International Mother Language Day. It also marked the start of Grand Union's contribution to the year of celebrations for the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 'Father of the Nation' (described on our new Bangladesh-UK Programme page).

The theme of freedom and independence continues with our new large-scale participatory show in St John's Church, Bethnal Green, in which local people are invited to take part.

Saturday May 2nd, 7.00pm - Independence Song
St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA 
Admission: pay what you can afford 

Following the arrival of Empire Windrush in 1948, bringing Caribbean workers to help rebuild Britain after the War, many more migrants followed from what is now the Commonwealth – notably from South Asia, West Africa and Central America - and more recently from other parts of the world. Over the past seventy years, these countries have gained their independence; but along with the yearning for freedom goes an often bitter struggle, and those who suffer most are the ordinary families caught up in it. Independence Song gives voice to these important but easily forgotten stories. We are therefore asking local communities not only take part in the performance, but also to contribute their own memories, songs and music.

If you are interested in taking part and would like to know more about the project as it develops, please send your details, and any ideas, to mail@grandunion.org.uk   flyer here

Mon 27th - Thurs July 30th, Annual Residential Summer School
Writtle University College, Chelmsford
Public performance at 4.30 on Thursday 30th of work created during the Summer School. For full information, go to the Summer School page

   
GUO CONTRIBUTION TO MUJIB YEAR SO FAR...

Sunday February 16th, Rich Mix - Bengal to Bethnal Green
The much-loved series, directed by tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan, returned in a new guise for 2020, launched by the remarkable Bangladeshi 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 who then joined them in a performance commemorating Language Day and Martyrs' Day, Friday 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
Celebrated Bengali singer  Lucy Rahman performed songs by her father, the renowned composer and singer Sheikh Luthfur Rahman, a leading voice and activist in the Bangadesh struggle for independence. Directed by Yousuf Ali Khan, the evening featured also other Bengali singers, the Grand Union Orchestra All-Stars and a performance of Tony Haynes's powerful piece about the Civil War, The Mother the RiverFull details here

   
AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS 2019:

SEPTEMBER

Sunday 22nd – Grand Union Orchestra All-Stars
Bank Junction, City of London EC4 , open air stage

The 9-strong All-Stars were the main feature attraction on the main stage outside the Bank of England in Transport for London's car-free day

Friday 27th, 7.00pm - Uncharted Voyage
Croydon, Fairfield Halls 
Our latest collaboration with Croydon Music and Arts celebrated both the reopening of the newly refurbished historic Fairfield Halls 50 years since the original performance there of Croydon Youth Orchestra in a specially commissioned work by Tony Haynes.  

OCTOBER

Sounding Bethnal Green was our contribution to Black History Month, every Friday throughout October at St John's Church, combining performance, interview, discussion and practical workshop, led by professional artists from Africa, Bangladesh, China and Somalia

Friday 4th, Sounding Bethnal Green
St John on Bethnal Green
The opening event featured Claude Deppa (trumpet, percussion) and the music of the South African diaspora (see note above). 

Friday 11th, Sounding Bethnal Green
St John on Bethnal Green
The second event in the series featured gu zheng (Chinese harp) virtuoso Zhu Xiao Meng, with folk songs and ancient court music of China (see note above).

Sunday 13th, 7.00pm (note change of time) - Bengal to Bethnal Green
Rich Mix
A special event in this popular and much-loved programme, directed by tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan featured the remarkable Indian classical singer Mahamaya Shil with GUO All-Stars musicians in unusual arrangements by Tony Haynes combining South Asian music with other traditions.

Friday 18th, St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
The third featured artist in this programme marking Black History Month was the celebrated Ghanaian master-drummer Abass Dodoo (see note above)

Friday 25th, St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
Yousuf Ali Khan (tabla) presented the final event in the series with other artists and young singers from the Bengali community (see note above).

NOVEMBER

Wednesday 6th, A World Music Odyssey
Hackney Empire Theatre, London E8 1EJ A
A collaboration with Hackney Music Service Gala - a musical journey starting in West Africa, taking in the Caribbean, the Balkans and India, and finishing in South Africa. Strings, wind and brass, tuned percussion, steel pans and African drummers all featured in this extravaganza led by Claude Deppa, with compositions and arrangements by Tony Haynes.

Sunday 10th, Bengal to Bethnal Green
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
A second special event in the popular programme, featured young musicians. Led by tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan, it introduced the young Bengali singer Reya Sharmin and members of the Grand Union Youth Orchestra Flyer here

Friday 15th, 7.00pm – Grand Union Re:Generation Band
Poplar Union
  

The Re:Generation Band in a programme of its own compositions. (An ongoing GUO initiative with young professional musicians of the future - see note below)

DECEMBER

Sunday 15th, 7.00pm - Music Re:Unites (GUO Winter Concert)
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Annual concert summing up and celebrating the Youth Orchestra's year's work, from the launch of the Re:Generation Band, through great festival performances to the best ever Summer School! Flyer here

Whatever the eventual outcome of Brexit, our society is likely to remain at odds with itself for some time to come. The arts, and music in particular, have the potential to heal rifts and bring people together again. All our autumn projects, including those with young musicians, aim to contribute to this aim, and the development of the Re:Generation Band is an important aspect of that. 

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