​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, including opportunities for participation)

                                                   AUTUMN 2017
Following an exceptionally busy and creative nine months, the Orchestra is taking a short break from public performances while preparing an extensive programme for 2018. Workshop activities continue, however, culminating in an exciting event to end the year:

Sunday December 3rd, 7.00pm - GU Youth Orchestra, Rhythms & Revolution
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Tickets £8/£4 concessions                           DOWNLOAD FLYER HERE

We have chosen the theme Rhythms and Revolution for the GUYO autumn programme partly as a contribution to Rich Mix’s programme throughout 2017 commemorating the Russian revolution, but also for wholly musical reasons.

Drums and drumming have always been associated with insurgency, a means of gaining attention and gathering momentum; but rhythm can also be more subtly subversive. ..

In their masterclasses, Ghanaian master-drummer Abass Dodoo reminded us how Africans communicated secretly under the very noses of colonial rulers, and candomble/marakatu specialist Ricardo Axe of how in northeast Brazil - and indeed throughout South America, the Caribbean and Cuba - slaves kept their old traditions, customs and religions alive through music from their native Africa; and this also eventually gave birth to jazz, the most revolutionary music of all, with its additional emphasis on improvisation.

In fact, throughout musical history – even in European classical music – rhythm has often been the driver of change, whether musical, cultural, social or political.


Tuesday June 13th to Saturday 17th – Song of Contagion, Grand Union Orchestra
Wilton's Music Hall, Whitechapel, London E1 8JB - £10-£17.50 (concs available)
Box Office: 020 7702 2789 Book online
Brand new work supported by the Wellcome Trust, featuring the full Grand Union Orchestra and singers. Full details on the  Song of Contagion page and via these links:
Read the scenario.
Sample the music.
Meet the performers.

Sunday July 2nd, 7:00pm – Gala Mela, GUYO + Bengali artists
Rich Mix, Shoreditch, London E1 6LA - £6/£3 concessions 
Box Office: 020 7613 7498 Book online
Grand Union Youth Orchestra celebrates Eid and the end of Ramadan with guest Bengali artists Mahamaya Shil and Delwar Hossain Dilu and the cream of its Bangladeshi/Indian repertoire mixed with jazz, ska, salsa, West African rhythms and big band scores, led by Yousuf Ali Khan and Louise Elliott. See flyer here

Wednesday July 26th, 9:00pm – Grand Union Orchestra
Hilton Brighton Metropole, King's Road, Brighton BN1 2FU
Special performance for the Musicians Union biennial Delegate Conference

Thursday August 3rd, 4:30pm – Summer School final performance
Goldsmiths College, New Cross, London SE14 6NW - Admission free

Students and tutors give a performance of music created on the course.


Saturday February 11th, 11:00 - 3:30pm – The Isle is Full of Noises
Whittlesey (nr Peterborough) - Sir Harry Smith Community College 
Family music day with Grand Union musicians, launching Imagine : Whittlesey.

Sunday March 5th, 4:00pm - Bengal to Bethnal Green
London - Rich Mix, Shoreditch - 
spectacular finale to this season's popular programme, featuring popular local Bangladeshi singers with GUO musicians.

Saturday March 18th, 6:30pm – Imagine : Whittlesey
Whittlesey (nr Peterborough) - Sir Harry Smith Community College
Featuring Grand Union musicians and performers from local schools and Whittlesey town .

Saturday April 1st, 12:00 - 5:00pm – Music Untamed
Cambridge - Great St Mary's Church - 
Cambridge young musicians perform work created during a two week residency of workshops, with Grand Union musicians.

Sunday April 2nd, 7:00pm - Spring Carnival, GUYO + guests
London - Rich Mix, Shoreditch - 
celebrating Carnival, with African, Caribbean and Latin-American music and musicians.


October 4th marked the 80th anniversary of the notorious 'Battle of Cable Street'. Since Grand Union has always been based in East London, and took a leading role in the 70th and 75th events, we devised an ambitious and comprehensive programme to commemorate this landmark occasion, culminating in two spectacular shows: A full description of our Remembering Cable Street week-long anniversary programme can be found here, the flyer for the shows here, and more historical background on our Projects page.

The climax of a busy spring/summer programme for the Orchestra and smaller groups was Jelly Roll Soul, a three-day festival of performances and workshops at London's Vortex Jazz Club. Taking as its starting point the legacy of jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton, who died 75 years ago that weekend, it celebrated the melting pot that is East London today, reminiscent of new Orleans a century ago; it also launched a new street band for Dalston, Band Off The Wall.

The undoubted highlight of the winter was the remarkable success of Undream'd Shores in the Great Hall, Leeds University, the first regional production of the show after its premiere at the Hackney Empire in November 2014. It featured the University Music School's 60-strong orchestra and 40-strong choir together with sitars, santoors, dilrubas, tabla and dhol from SAA-uk's Academy of Indian Music. A video of extracts from the performances are currently being edited; here are excerpts from the original:
See songs from Undream'd Shores and highlights from the show

An account of Grand Union's other achievements during 2015 can be found here. Following a very busy and successful first half of the year - including Mil e Uma Mares in Portugal (video here), our highly original take on the BBC Ten Pieces in Cambridge, and the culmination of our EU-funded project in The Isle is Full of Noises (a ground-breaking two-week festival in East London) - Grand Union finished the summer with its annual residential Summer School.

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