From February to July 2018, the Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation sponsored two series of jazz and world workshops and masterclasses in association with Grand Union Orchestra.  Led by authentic exponents of various musical traditions worldwide, it introduced young people to professional musicians they would not normally encounter, and gave them practical experience in exploring a range of musical techniques not available from other sources (eg youth jazz orchestras, conservatoires). The young people were encouraged to experiment with different approaches to improvisation (eg through Indian ragas, Latin rhythms or township harmony), and learnt something of the provenance of the music (through migration or the slave trade) – which in turn would give them a greater understanding of jazz.


The Grand Union Youth Orchestra is a mixed ensemble founded ten years ago for young musicians who wish to learn first-hand about world music and/or play non-Western instruments. Improvisation is central to the ensemble, and the members themselves help shape the repertoire. It meets on the first Sunday morning of each month at Rich Mix for a masterclass led by an authentic expert in a world music tradition, and gives regular public performances. Its reach is London-wide; participation is free to avoid any financial barriers.

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“It  has opened my ears to new music and forms from all over the world, enabled me to learn and be a part of the cultures that the music comes from, and allowed me to meet and perform with like-minded people – and all of that experience has strongly enhanced my ability as a musician.” – Josh

The Grand Union Orchestra is delighted to be receiving support from Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation towards its projects with young musicians during the spring/summer 2018 – notably masterclasses and workshops at Rich Mix and the Vortex Jazz Club in East London. These projects are led by professional musicians born and brought up in major musical traditions worldwide, who will share their unique skills with the young players, helping them widen their musical and social horizons and develop their creativity. It will also help improve the quality of the performances of the Grand Union Youth Orchestra and expand its repertoire. Few other organisations provide such opportunities, and we – and the young people we work with – are very grateful to the Foundation for its generous support.

Tony Haynes

Projects Manager