“Eight ukuleles walk out on stage…”
No joke—prepare for an unforgettable evening featuring the finest ukulele orchestra in the world!
The Orchestra was formed in 1985 as a bit of fun, but the first gig was an instant sell-out, and they’ve been performing ever since. By 1988 they had released an LP, appeared on BBC TV, played at WOMAD and recorded a BBC Radio 1 session.
The current ensemble has been playing together for over 20 years, and has become something of a national institution.
The Orchestra has given thousands of sold-out concerts across the world, including Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Poland, France, America, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.
They have more recently performed sell-out shows at the Sydney Opera House (2012), The Royal Albert Hall (2009, 2012) and New York’s Carnegie Hall (2010, 2012).
Over the last 29 years, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has spawned hundreds of imitators, and you can now find Ukulele Groups in nearly every major city, indeed, the Orchestra are often blamed for the current Ukulele revival which is sweeping the globe.
The Ukulele Orchestra’s music has been used in films, plays, and commercials, while film clips of the Orchestra’s live concerts and TV appearances on websites such as YouTube have been watched millions of times. Collaborators have included Madness, David Arnold, The British Film Institute, The Ministry of Sound, Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) and The Kaiser Chiefs.
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a group of all-singing, all-strumming Ukulele players, using instruments bought with loose change, which believes that all genres of music are available for reinterpretation, as long as they are played on the Ukulele.
A concert by the Ukulele Orchestra is a funny, virtuosic, twanging, awesome, foot-stomping obituary of rock-n-roll and melodious light entertainment featuring only the “bonsai guitar” and a menagerie of voices in a collision of post-punk performance and toe-tapping oldies. There are no drums, pianos, backing tracks or banjos, no pitch shifters or electronic trickery. Only an astonishing revelation of the rich palette of orchestration afforded by ukuleles and singing (and a bit of whistling). Audiences have a good time with the Ukulele Orchestra. Going from Tchaikovsky to Nirvana via Otis Redding and Spaghetti Western soundtracks, the Orchestra takes us on “a world tour with only hand luggage” and gives the listener “One Plucking Thing After Another”.
Using instruments small and large, in high and low registers, whether playing intricate melodies, simple tunes, or complex chords, and sitting in chamber group format dressed in formal evening wear, the Orchestra uses the limitations of the instrument to create a musical freedom as it reveals unsuspected musical insights. Both the beauty and vacuity of popular and highbrow music are highlighted, the pompous and the trivial, the moving and the amusing. Sometimes a foolish song can touch an audience more than high art; sometimes music which takes itself too seriously is revealed to be hilarious. You may never think about music in the same way once you’ve been exposed to the Ukes’ depraved musicology.
Fee is a seasonal membership to the Merrill Area Concert Association.