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;

PROGRAMME FOR 2020 - RE:GENERATION

We are planning a wide range of projects throughout 2020 on the theme of Regeneration, which will bring together our huge range of professional, community and student performers across three generations. Our broad vision for the year is described here, with details to follow as dates and projects are confirmed.

The FEBRUARY/MARCH programme focuses on BENGALI MUSIC AND HISTORY commemorating Martyrs' Day and International Mother Language Day. It also marks 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' (see below for fuller details).

Sunday February 16th, 7.00pm - Bengal to Bethnal Green
47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Admission £10, concessions £5, family ticket (4 people) £15

The much-loved series, directed by tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan, returns in a new guise for the new year - an evening show with more Grand Union musicians.The remarkable Bangladeshi singer Amith Dey kicks off the new venture with songs of the legendary poet/baul singer Lalon Shah.
Booking details at https://richmix.org.uk/book-online/561602    flyer here

Wednesday February 19th, 10.00-1.00, 2.00-5.00 - open workshops
Poplar Union, 2 Cotall Street, Poplar, London E14 6TL
Admission: pay what you can afford

Led by Yousuf Ali Khan with musicians from the Re:Generation Band: one-day workshop for 12-18 year olds, who will then have the opportunity to take part in a  performance commemorating Language Day and Martyrs' Day, Friday 21st
Full details here   Booking at https://poplarunion.com/book/88203/

Friday February 21st, 7.00pm - Grand Union Re:Generation Band 
Poplar Union, 2 Cotall Street, Poplar, London E14 6TL
Admission: FREE

Special programme for Language Day/Martyrs' Day featuring young musicians and Grand Union Orchestra musicians.

Sunday March 1st, 7.00pm - Bengal to Bethnal Green
47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Admission £10, concessions £5, family ticket (4 people) £15

Featuring the classically-trained Bengali singer  Lucy Rahman performing songs by her father, the renowned composer and singer Sheikh Luthfur Rahman, who was a leading voice and activist in the Bangadesh struggle for independence. Directed by Yousuf Ali Khan, the evening features also the Grand Union Orchestra All-Stars and a performance of Tony Haynes's powerful piece about the Civil War, The Mother the River. Video below Full details here
Booking/details at https://richmix.org.uk/book-online/562002

SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN: birth centenary YEAR 

Background

In 2020-21 Bangladesh commemorates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Father of the Nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, as Mujib Year – a year-long programme of events culminating in a Golden Jubilee celebration also of the birth of Bangladesh as an independent nation in 1971, 50 years ago.

The Grand Union Orchestra is honoured to be taking part in these celebrations, working closely with its long-time musical collaborators in both East London’s Bengali community and from Bangladesh itself to present a programme of its own. This begins in Spring 2020 with two very special concerts in our much-loved series Bengal to Bethnal Green at Rich Mix, Shoreditch (February 16 th and March 1st), and a workshop programme at Poplar Union Arts Centre (February 19th to 21st).

These events are themselves timed to coincide with another significant day in the Bengali calendar – February 21 st, or Language Day. Sometimes known also as Martyrs’ Day, marking the loss of lives on that day in 1954 as campaigners fought to use their mother tongue Bengali as an official language of what was then East Pakistan, it was eventually recognised formally by UNESCO as International Mother Language Day.

The project

The first concert, on February 16th, featuring popular singer Amith Dey with Grand Union musicians, will be built around the songs of the legendary poet/baul singer Lalon Shah, whose songs affirm equality and common humanity irrespective of faith, race or caste.

The second, on March 1st, features Lucy Rahman performing the songs of her father, the iconic composer and singer Sheikh Luthfur Rahman, a leading voice and activist in the 1971 War of Independence. She will be joined by Shyamal Chowdhury from Dhaka, another celebrated interpreter of this repertoire, and the Grand Union Orchestra All-Stars. They will also perform The Mother, The River by GUO composer/director Tony Haynes and Bangladeshi writer Mohammed Rafiquzzaman, a deeply moving account of the war as seen through the eyes of a woman anxiously awaiting the return of her son.

These two concerts frame a day of open workshops (February 19th) led by GUO tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan and members of our Second Generation Band. Curious young musicians aged 12-18 are welcome to come and explore Bengali music and the themes of freedom and independence. They will then all perform together on Language Day itself (February 21st). For more information and to book places visit https://poplarunion.com/event/grand-unionregeneration-workshop-with-yousuf-ali-khan/

The artists

All events are directed by Grand Union’s tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan, who has been a long term collaborator with Tony Haynes, working with Grand Union Orchestra for nearly 30 years. Yousuf comes from the same famous dynasty of musicians as Ali Akhbar Khan, and began playing tabla at the age of five, later studying in Kolkata. He came to England in 1980 to help set up South Asian music teaching, developing also his international career as a performer and accompanist of choice for South Asian artists visiting the UK.

Lucy Rahman was born in Dhaka, into a family of famous musicians, artists and poets.  From the age of six, she was trained in Indian classical and semi-classical music by her father and went on to train at the Nazrul Academy for six years. Now settled in the UK, she has forged a formidable reputation as a leading singer of South Asian traditional and classical music.She has also been a core member of the Grand Union Orchestra for 25 years, and her original performance of The Mother The River can be seen here - https://youtu.be/oEp4rKSLqzI

   
HIGHLIGHTS OF SUMMER AND AUTUMN 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 

MAY

Wednesday 22nd – Grand Union Orchestra All-Stars, Trinity Buoy Wharf
An All-Star 10-piece Grand Union Band specially assembled to launch an exciting new series of jazz events in the atmospheric setting of Trinity Buoy Wharf. 

Monday 27th – Band off the Wall, All Points East Festival, Victoria Park
Grand Union’s Dalston Community street band comes off the iconic Peace Mural, and makes its first appearance at East London’s most prestigious festival.

JUNE

Thursday 27th – A World Music Odyssey Round Chapel, Clapton Collaboration with Hackney Music Service, featuring Hackney Borough Youth Orchestra, the Training Orchestra and other schools ensembles.

JULY

Sunday 7th - Bengal to Bethnal Green,  Rich Mix
A special editiion featuring sarod virtuoso Shahadat Hossein Khan, visiting from Bangladesh, and singer Shyamal Chowdhury with tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan.

Saturday 20th - Sounding Bethnal Green Summer Gala, St John on Bethnal Green Workshops and performances highlighting the wondrous cultural mix of community groups and musicians flourishing in the East End today.

Saturday 27th - Hillview Estate Festival, King's Cross
Grand Union 6-piece band featuring local Indian singer Mahamaya Shil and her son Joshi on tabla - South Asian music with more than a touch of Carnival! 

Mon 29th - Thurs August 1st, Annual Residential Summer School               Writtle University College, Chelmsford
Public performance at 4.30 on Thursday 1st of work created during the Summer School. For full information, go to the Summer School page

AUGUST

Wednesday 7th – Grand Union Orchestra All-stars Trinity Buoy Wharf
The All-Star 10-piece Grand Union Band assembled to launch the summer's new series of jazz events in the atmospheric setting of Trinity Buoy Wharf returns - bringing the spirit of New Orleans 100 years ago to East London’s own Mississippi delta, the confluence of the River Lea and the Thames!

Read the great feature on Grand Union at Trinity Buoy Wharf in Wharf Life magazine! 

Perch by edgeofmyseat.com

Perch by edgeofmyseat.com

Perch by edgeofmyseat.com

Perch by edgeofmyseat.com

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