Event Preview: Grand Union Orchestra’s 40th Anniversary Show @ Hackney Empire (Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th May 2022)
The Grand Union Orchestra is a celebration of the possibilities of creativity and collaboration in today’s multi-racial society. The vibrant musical group, formed 40 years ago at a time of radical artistic activism, is made up of extraordinary players born or brought up in different music traditions. Many of the original players still remain. GUO compositions tell stories of migration and exile to freedom and social injustice, with the musicians’ real experiences intertwined throughout the narratives. The euphonic landscape spans the players’ roots from South Asia, China, South America, USA, Caribbean, Europe and West Africa. They are a powerfully diverse and rich band with an optimistic message.
This weekend on 14th and 15th May, band leader Tony Haynes will be hosting a landmark fortieth anniversary show at The Hackney Empire. A welcome fiesta in the heart of their community. This is where they have composed, played, educated and performed for many years. Not only is the standard of musicianship particularly exciting, it’s a beautiful sight of integrity and collaboration between cultures.
The ensemble plays an inspiring range of instruments with traditional heritage such as Zhu Xiao Meng on the Chinese harp and Yousuf Ali Khan on the tabla and dholak. Layered across these time-honoured sounds, they interlace with a fierce percussion and horn section. You can expect to hear textures from Indian ragas and bhangra to salsa, reggae and West African drumming, with musicians taking turns to improvise and solo across these styles.
Ahead of their Made By Human Hands album release in June, they have just released their first single from the collection ‘Can’t Chain Up Me Mind’. Underpinned by samba-reggae rhythms and catchy brass hooks, it features defiant lyrics about slavery, freedom and resistance by Jamaican poet Valerie Bloom.
This is a rare opportunity to explore ravishing music from around the world through reflective socio-political stories. These musicians have honed their skills and collaborated as a family for 40 years and their chemistry and energy is one to immerse yourself in.
- You can book your seat(s) for both anniversary shows following this LINK -
Tony Haynes is co-founder and composer for Grand Union Orchestra (GUO), a group of exceptional artists in London making original cross-cultural music. They are a band that celebrate diversity as an emphatic theatrical art form and use music to join prejudicial gaps. After watching an incredibly moving live show from…