About Our Shop

There is no musical organisation on the planet quite like the Grand Union Orchestra. We bring together the best musicians from all over the world to create stunning original music and spectacular live shows.

This shop sells our CDs. We are not signed to any record label, so all the profits from CD sales go towards supporting our work. We do not charge separately for shipping.

We accept payment on all major credit and debit cards using Paypal.

If you have any questions about this shop, contact Claire Sivier on 0208 981 1551 or email claire@grandunion.org.uk

Visit our website for more information about the Grand Union Orchestra

 

Early days

Grand Union was founded in March 1982 to tour theatrical work with music at its core. Our first shows were Jelly Roll Soul and The Lost Chord.Strange Migration followed and was crucial in shaping all our subsequent work - the way it embraces less familiar musical cultures, and is based around the experiences of the performers themselves, many of them migrants or refugees. Soon, we had musicians from virtually every part of the world working together to create and perform new work drawing on their own varied cultural and musical backgrounds.

The Grand Union Orchestra

The Grand Union Orchestra was born in response to a commission from the GLC to celebrate its Year against Racism in 1984. The resulting show,The Song of Many Tongues (1984), was composed by Tony Haynes (like all subsequent work) with lyrics contributed by writers in many different languages. It toured England for two years and was followed by:

  • The Lightning and the Rainbow (1986)
  • A Book of Numbers (1987)
  • Freedom Calls (1988)
  • Songlines (1992)
  • The Rhythm of Tides/Por Mares do Imaginário (1996)
  • Now Comes The Dragon's Hour (1998)
  • If Paradise… (2002)
  • Can’t Chain Up Me Mind (2007)

Most of these shows have been recorded and broadcast in full on BBC Radio 3, and subsequently released on CD.

The Grand Union Band

The Grand Union Orchestra consists typically of between 15 and 20 musicians and naturally smaller, more flexible combinations of the musicians emerged. These became known as the Grand Union Bandand featured between seven and ten musicians in each guise.

Originating as a popular street band, The Grand Union Band repertoire is based on traditional music from the musicians' own countries of origin and some of their original compositions. These have taken many different forms:

  • Prastutikaran (1994) explored Indian classical, film and folk music after originating as a popular street band.
  • Marabenta (1995) featured musicians from Portuguese-speaking Africa.
  • Babylon To The Jade Gate (1997) involved four Chinese musicians.
  • Echoes from Anatolia (1998) showcased two musicians from Turkey
  • The Bangla Band has become a very successful ongoing project featuring South Asian musicians, especially sarod virtuoso Shahadat Hossein Khan (Bangladesh).
  • Masa Jokima is a collaboration with Scottish musicians.
  • Spirit of Carnival is built around our leading Latin-American, African and Caribbean musicians.
  • Bengal Tiger, Shanghai Dragon brings together our South Asian and Chinese musicians.

Recordings of music drawn from these various projects are also available;Echoes from Anatolia has become a best-selling CD in Turkey!

Large-scale shows

The Grand Union Orchestra has always produced large-scale shows, often specific to a particular city or community. These shows are developed by a core group of our musicians in conjunction with young musicians, amateur performers and local cultural groups and include:

  • Threads (Manchester 1986)
  • If Music Could… (Warwick 1990, London 1992, Slough 1997)
  • Shadows of the Sun (Clerkenwell 1992)
  • Nau Charia De (Spitalfields 1994)
  • Dancing in the Flames (London 1995, Melbourne 2005)
  • Where The Rivers Meet (Sadler’s Wells 2000).

Three of these shows have toured England with local participation changing in each locality visited:

  • Beyond the Silk Road played in five venues in England (1999)
  • Doctor Carnival played in 12 large venues from London through Leicester's De Montfort Hall, Symphony Hall Birmingham and Leeds Town Hall to the St Magnus Festival in Orkney (2001-2005)
  • On Liberation Street featured as a Guardian Cultural Highlight of 2005 at its premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse Leeds, and was performed subequently in Wavendon, Gateshead and London's Hackeny Empire (2005-2009).

Music education

Although live performance of original music is its priority, Grand Union has also always operated an extensive outreach programme. We average nearly 200 workshops a year in education settings which are all in some way cross-cultural. Perhaps more significantly - given the lack of provision elsewhere - we run training and professional development programmes. These allow students and adult musicians to learn at first hand our technique and practice of composition and performance through devising and producing original shows and running workshops.