Grand Union Youth Orchestra

The unique Grand Union Youth Orchestra (GUYO), London's pioneering world music and jazz youth ensemble, brings together young musicians aged 12 - 26 who wish to explore the world's major musical cultures. Players of non-Western instruments are especially welcome. GUYO projects are also readily adapted, and highly effective, in a more formal education setting.

GUYO  masterclasses or workshops take place regularly on Sunday mornings at Rich Mix Arts Centre, in London's Shoreditch. GUYO gives regular public performances there, at Festivals and other events. It also takes part in projects with the parent Grand Union Orchestra and GU Voices. Older members aspiring to a professional career in music can graduate to the autonomous Re:Generation Band.

CALL & RESPONSE - our Learning and Education programme for 2021 

Loosely inspired by the age-old, universal musical technique of ‘call and response’, which can be interpreted in so many different ways (including a challenge to Coronavirus), in this case the young musicians themselves will be doing the calling, and the GUO musicians the responding! After so many months stuck in front of a computer monitor, we want the young musicians themselves to call the shots!

The first live session is especially aimed at new recruits; the next two will focus on commemorative events that coincide with them - Refugee Week and Windrush Day. In response to these themes, young musicians will have the opportunity to present and share their own ideas; these will also help shape the annual Summer School programme, autumn workshops and the prestigious winter concert at Rich Mix. 

There will be regular email updates as the programme unfolds, and fuller details found on the workshops and performances pages. 

Photos in the Flyer have been taken from live performances; those on the front come from GUYO's last concert at Rich Mix, from which highlights can be seen here.

why join the grand union youth orchestra?
here are all the reasons in a nutshell:

See our current schedule, the workshops and performances pages, and details of our annual residential Summer School.

The magazine featured full-length articles on Grand Union's work with young musicians in its June 2019 issue and its June 2017 issue, celebrating GUYO's 10th anniversary.   

In these two short videos, young musicians perform a variety of music, explain why GUYO and the Summer School are so important to them...


 ...and why they enjoy taking part in Grand Union's large-scale projects alongside professional musicians exploring a wide range of music from around the world:
(see also Music Education Page)



Led by top professional jazz and world-musicians from the renowned Grand Union Orchestra, GUYO offers free monthly masterclasses and workshops that explore musical styles from all over the world. Here, the next generation interprets an Indian raga and West African drumming and chant:


GUYO members’ (or their families’) countries of origin include Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy, India, Bangladesh, the Caribbean, South Africa, East Africa and China as well as London born and bred. Therefore, the range of instruments they play is equally wide.

Join GUYO, no auditions, FREE OF CHARGE, and:

  • Take part in regular high-profile performances
  • Work alongside leading professional musicians
  • Learn about world music, first hand, from experts
  • Discover new instruments and develop improvisation skills
  • Meet and create with like-minded young musicians

The GUYO repertoire, created and rehearsed in over 60 workshop sessions so far, is continually developing and expanding. It includes a arrangements of world music ‘standards’, original music, material adapted from Tony Haynes’s music for the Grand Union Orchestra, and contributions and compositions by the Orchestra members themselves.

Members get to perform in a varied annual programme, from open air festivals and summer carnival processions to large-scale participatory shows playing alongside the Grand Union Orchestra. Past performances have taken place in prestigious East London venues such as the Hackney Empire, Wiltons Music Hall, and Stratford Circus.

For upcoming performances,  click here.

See more photos documenting GUYO, the first 10 years:

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