A COMPOSER'S BLOG

Tony Haynes, composer/director of the Grand Union Orchestra, tells the inside story of his music for the orchestra, its musicians and colourful history.

76: Staying Ahead of the Game

This is essentially a sequel to my previous Post (75), a paean to the virtues of improvisation. Grand Union has fared reasonably well during the months since the original Lockdown … Continue reading

October 18, 2020 · Leave a comment

75: Improvisation

Improvisation – the ability to think on your feet, live by your wits, adapt quickly to changing circumstances – is one of life’s essential skills. Along with empathy, it is … Continue reading

August 31, 2020 · Leave a comment

74: Five Hundred Years or more…

Reflecting on the horrific murder of George Floyd, the protests and civic unrest that it unleashed worldwide, I remembered a powerful piece, Worksong, from the Grand Union Orchestra canon a … Continue reading

June 22, 2020 · Leave a comment

73: In Memoriam John Cumming

It’s with great sadness that I learnt of the death of John Cumming, a valued friend from pretty well the beginning of my working life as a musician. Most of … Continue reading

May 24, 2020 · 1 Comment

72: 20/20 and a timely look back…

Exactly three months ago, I was writing a message of hope and good cheer for 2020 (Post 71), just before setting off for Australia and South Asia. Who could have … Continue reading

March 31, 2020 · Leave a comment

71: 2020 Vision

Here is a soundtrack to these seasonal greetings (albeit in reverse order!); for more details, go to Post 60. Whatever happens in 2020, it is surely going to be an … Continue reading

December 30, 2019 · 1 Comment

70: Democracy needs Imagination

To work effectively, democracy needs freedom of thought and expression if citizens are to make informed decisions in casting their votes; it also requires empathy – the capacity to appreciate … Continue reading

October 30, 2019 · Leave a comment

69: RIP Gillian Hanna

Gillian Hanna, one of the finest actors of her generation, died in August 2019, shortly after her 75th birthday. I first met Gillian in 1971, when I went to Liverpool … Continue reading

August 30, 2019 · Leave a comment

68: In Memoriam Rick Taylor

I was shocked to hear recently that Rick Taylor had died at the age of 62. Like so many Grand Union Orchestra musicians, Rick came into my life quite unexpectedly. … Continue reading

June 27, 2019 · Leave a comment

67: Down by the Riverside…

It was just the best Easter Sunday ever, in New Orleans with my daughter Lily! Following the parades through the French Quarter, we ended up in Jackson Square. As the … Continue reading

May 1, 2019 · 3 Comments

66: Music That Unites

Recent events across the world – from the mosque killings in New Zealand to the ugly side of Brexit in the UK – will have moved and appalled us all, … Continue reading

March 31, 2019 · Leave a comment

65: Fifty Years in Show Business!

As we were rehearsing Uncharted Crossings in December, the climax of the Grand Union Orchestra’s autumn programme, it suddenly struck me that it was exactly fifty years since I had … Continue reading

December 29, 2018 · Leave a comment

64: Can’t Chain Up Me Mind

Can’t Chain Up Me Mind was written exactly 30 years ago for Freedom Calls, which was recorded and broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and became the Grand Union Orchestra’s first … Continue reading

October 29, 2018 · Leave a comment

63: Uncharted Crossings

Earlier in the year, I learnt that this autumn our local Museum was to curate an exhibition called Black British Music in Hackney. It immediately occurred to me that it … Continue reading

September 26, 2018 · 1 Comment