Bengal to Bethnal Green

Sun 25 November - Sun 25 November 1.30pm
Free / Main Space (limited seating)

Presented by The Grand Union Orchestra

Celebrating Bengali music and the arts in East London

A monthly series of events including  music workshops for all the family talks and discussions with famous writers concerts featuring much-loved singers directed by international tabla star Yousuf Ali Khan.

Sunday November 25th – commemorating Victory Day presented by Shamim Azad, featuring Himangshu Goswami

Programme for each event:

  • 2pm – family workshop with Grand Union musicians
  •  3.30pm – refreshments (free)
  • 3.45pm – presentation on an aspect of Bengali culture
  • 4.30pm – concert with featured singer

Musicians include Sunil Jadahav (keyboard), Mashul Islam (guitar), Louise Elliott (flute, tenor saxophone), Claude Deppa (trumpet, African drums). The music is based on Bengali songs, both in traditional form and combined with contemporary styles reflecting the wide variety of music in London’s East End today.

To find out more about Bengal to Bethnal Green, the Grand Union Orchestra and its music and musicians, go to:

Grand Union
Tony Hayes Music

Musicians from the Grand Union Orchestra regularly visit Bangladesh and work with local musicians; a fascinating documentary about one of these visits can be seen here

Yousuf Ali Khan

Hailing from the dynasty of musicians famous for Ali Akhbar Khan, Yousuf began playing tabla at the age of five. In 1980, after moving to England, he was invited by Leicester music service to teach South Asian music in the city. He has since worked extensively as a music teacher, workshop leader and performer. He currently heads up Surtaal School of Indian Music in Edmonton and teaches harmonium and singing at various schools around London. Also a freelance musician and workshop leader, Yousuf is an internationally-known performer and accompanyist of choice for Bangladeshi and Indian musicians visiting the UK. He has released several CDs as well as publishing a book with Music for Youth. He has been working with the Grand Union Orchestra for over 20 years.

Shamim Azad

Shamim is a bilingual poet and storyteller of the Bangladeshi diaspora in Britain and “one of Britain’s best-known Bangladeshi writers” according to Sheffield’s Off the Shelf Festival of Writing and Reading. She has a wide range of teaching experience; a variety of interests; and a long list of residencies under her belt. Her work fuses aspects of Asian folk and oral traditions with chants, body movements, poems, percussion, tabla and song. She has also compiled and produced anthologies in Bangla & English; developed oral histories; and prepared inter-generational projects for publication. Her work has been widely-published and she has performed in numerous venues internationally. Well known individuals she has worked with include composer Richard Blackford, choreographer Rosemary Lee, and visual artist Robin Whitemore.

Mrs Gouri Choudhury

Gouri Choudhury is an established Bengali music teacher, awarded-performer, and mentor. Since moving from Bangladesh to the UK at eighteen, she has served the Bengali community with her melodious voice – continuously developing her skills. She began studying music at the age of 6, and has since received diplomas in music and folk song, and performed on both Bangladeshi and UK TV and Radio. She is now a house-hold name in the UK-Bengali community and her popularity crosses over the pond to North America too.

She has held positions as a Bengali music teacher for over 13 years at schools all over London as well as working for the Newham Bengali Youth Front. She is currently Music Leader of Newham Young Person’s chorus (NYPC) and Sing Up programme ARK. Her work and dedication to music has been well recognised and she has received numerous accolades from various media organisations. In the UK, Gouri has sung with mainstream band Kula Shekhar and, in 1992, HMV released her first modern Bengali folk album. Most recently, Gouri gave her voice to the theme song for British film ‘A Fantastic Fear of Everything’. She is now an integral part of the Bengali community to carry forward the great South-Asian cultural heritage in the UK and beyond in the best possible way.


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