Grand Union's priority is live performance, and touring its work as widely as possible. Tony Haynes's shows for Grand Union defy definition - neither opera nor musical, nor straight concerts, but a unique kind of lyric theatre. Some feature only musicians and singers from the Grand Union Orchestra, others may involve amateur or student performers. All are cross-cultural, colourful, dramatic and deal with contemporary issues.

The Grand Union Orchestra's latest show, Uncharted Crossings, was premiered at Shoreditch Town Hall in December 2018. It celebrates the music and history of the African-heritage diaspora; full details and the background can be found here. In this delightful interview on London Live, Claude Deppa and Tony Haynes talk about the project

Our most recent large-scale participatory show, What the River Brings, was performed to a large and enthusiastic audience at St John on Bethnal Green July 2018.          Details here - Feature on LondonLive


Our previous large-scale show was premiered in a week-long run of performances at Wilton's Music Hall, June 13th - 17th 2017, and will be touring in 2019. 

Song of Contagion drew great audiences, and was widely acclaimed as the Company's best show yet. The response was extraordinarily emotional, perhaps reflecting the current public mood - apprehension, uncertainty, concern for inequality and injustice - but above all affirming a common humanity.

Read the complete set of audience responses here, reviews here
The show is now available on DVD, and can be heard complete here.

UNDREAM'D SHORES is our flagship participatory show, premiered at London's Hackney Empire in autumn 2014. It presents a picture of migration past and present, providing wonderful opportunities for local participation, complemented by a range of outreach projects, and is still available throughout the UK. Full details here.

AFTER CABLE STREET was produced for London's Rich Mix in October 2016 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the 'Battle', currently being worked up into a powerful one-hour stand-alone piece tackling racial and religious intolerance. Full details here.

Shows still in repertoire

IF PARADISE describes current turmoil in the Middle East and Central Asia, and is GUO's most recent CD, taken from a BBC Radio 3 broadcast. Full details here.

THE GOLDEN ROAD, THE UNFORGIVING SEA was commissioned for a BBC Radio 3 broadcast combining GUO with the BBC Concert Orchestra. Full details here.

THE RHYTHM OF TIDES is a collaboration between GUO and Portuguese and Portuguese African musicians, and perhaps GUO's most beguiling CD. Full details here.

ON LIBERATION STREET was commissioned for the 60th anniversary of WW2, and focuses on conflict on three continents in the generation between then and the 1970s. Full details here.

Smaller scale shows

TRADING ROOTS is a new initiative, answering the need for something smaller and flexible, but embodying the principles and practice of Undream'd Shores and other larger projects. It typically combines 10 to 18 performers drawn from a pool of about 24 core Grand Union musicians born and bred into many different major musical traditions worldwide. Besides stand-alone performances, it also provides ample scope for workshops, and often participants (adults or young people) can be included in the performance. It is also a useful vehicle for recruiting new performers to GUO.

There are also other projects like Trading Roots featuring different combinations of performers. One of the most unusual - and very popular - is  Bengal Tiger, Shanghai Dragon, which brings together virtuoso Chinese musicians like Zhu Xiao Meng (gu zheng) and Ruijun Hu (Chinese flutes) with Bengali (Yousuf Ali Khan - tabla/voice), Hindustani (Baluji Shrivastav - sitar/dilruba and Carnatic (Jyotsna Srikanth - violin) musicians.

Bengal to Bethnal Green is an ongoing series of performances running monthly at Rich Mix Arts Centre, led by GUO table maestro Yousuf Ali Khan. It features popular local Bengali artists supported by Grand Union musicians. The music is based on Bengali songs, both in traditional form and combined with other musical cultures and contemporary styles. Performances are listed on the Events page.

Other specialist combinations similarly spotlight  Turkish (Gunes Cerit - baglama/voice), Gypsy (Ionel Mandache - accordion), African (Mingo Rangel - guitar/voice), Caribbean (Daniel Louis - steel pan), South American (Carlos Fuentes - Latin percussion) and a myriad other varied artists.

More information can be found here, and there are many recordings can be found on our Music Page and Soundcloud Channel. Here is just one, Mexe Mexe - a delightful dance track with irresistible rhythm by Mozambican singer/guitarist Mingo Rangel with Maria Joao Silveira (voice) from Around the World in 80 Minutes.

If you like what you see, have a look at our upcoming live dates.

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