March 1st Lucy Rahman will perform the songs of her father, the iconic composer and singer Sheikh Luthfur Rahman, a leading voice and activist in the 1971 War of Independence. She will be joined by Shyamal Chowdhury from Dhaka, another celebrated interpreter of this repertoire, and the Grand Union Orchestra All-Stars. They will also perform The Mother, The River by GUO composer/director Tony Haynes and Bangladeshi writer Mohammed Rafiquzzaman, a deeply moving account of the war as seen through the eyes of a woman anxiously awaiting the return of her son.

In 2020-21 Bangladesh will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Father of the Nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, as Mujib Year – a year-long programme of events culminating in a Golden Jubilee celebration of the birth of Bangladesh as an independent nation in 1971, 50 years ago.

The Grand Union Orchestra is honoured to be taking part in these celebrations, working closely with its long-time musical collaborators in East London’s Bengali community and from Bangladesh itself, to present a programme of its own.

This begins in Spring 2020 with two very special concerts in our much-loved series Bengal to Bethnal Green at Rich Mix, Shoreditch (February 16th and March 1st).

These events are timed to coincide with another significant day in the Bengali calendar – February 21st, or Language Day, known also as Martyrs’ Day, marking the loss of lives on that day in 1954, as campaigners fought to use their mother tongue, Bengali, as an official language of the then East Pakistan.

This day was eventually recognised formally by UNESCO as International Mother Language Day.

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