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

About the GUO All-Stars


This Grand Union project brings together the Grand Union Orchestra’s core musicians – British artists from the world’s major musical traditions, many of them first generation migrants, all well-known in their own right – into a single ensemble. As the title suggests, the aim is to create original music from sharing ideas and techniques from the musical cultures they were born and brought up in.

This ensemble varyies in size and make-up according to the particular event, with musicians drawn from:

  • Zhu Xiao Meng (China) – gu zheng (Chinese harp)
  • Baluji Shrivastav (India) – sitar, dilruba, naal
  • Yousuf Ali Khan (Bangladesh) – tabla, dholak, voice
  • Louise Elliott (Australia) – tenor saxophone, flute
  • Shanti Paul Jayasinha (Sri Lanka/Scotland) – trumpet, cello
  • Claude Deppa (South Africa) – trumpet, West African drums
  • Günes Cerit (Turkey) – baglama (saz), voice
  • Liliana Iontcheva (Bulgaria) – tuned percussion
  • Ionel Mandache (Poland) – accordian
  • Daniel Louis (St Lucia) – steel pans
  • Carlos Fuentes (Chile) – quena, charango, berimbau
  • Xavier Osmir (Brazil) – Latin-American percussion
  • Gerry Hunt (England) – guitar, soprano and baritone saxes
  • Andres Lafone (Uruguay) – bass guitar, guitar
  • Cristiano Castellitto (Italy) – drums

under the direction of Grand Union’s composer/director Tony Haynes (piano, trombone).          

It goes even further than just performances, however: it can share this approach to music-making with young people, students and amateur performers through an extensive outreach programme, and build ongoing relationships with local communities. It also provides an opportunity to recruit new musicians to the Grand Union core team.

Workshops have two purposes: to develop the skills and enjoyment of participants, regardless of age, level of skill or cultural backround; and to increase the breadth and understanding of audiences, particularly those who might not otherwise take part in or attend such events.

They are wholly practical and creative. Besides being centred on the world music styles represented by the Grand Union musicians, for more experienced musicians especially they will also explore improvisation in a novel and inspiring way, eg:

  • melodic improvisation related to Indian ragas and Chinese scales;
  • harmonic improvisation explored through Caribbean and township music;
  • rhythmic improvisation based on African and Latin rhythms. 

Performers from workshops and the music created in them sometimes take part in the public performances, which also provide opportunities to help local musicians, tutors and teachers to develop their professional skills.


One comment on “About the GUO All-Stars

  1. Pingback: 29: Looking Forward, Looking Back… | ONLINE COMPOSITION MASTERCLASS

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