The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, seen and heard across the globe, is simultaneously provocative, entertaining and inspiring. The show combines music, humour and intelligence with silliness.
Using a menagerie of voices and cheap instruments, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain elicits emotion and thought in unexpected forms and successfully mix highbrow with lowbrow to appeal to an astonishingly broad audience.
Wherever The Ukulele Orchestra performs - from Germany, to the U.S, to Japan, to Sweden, to the smallest pub in England, they bring a hilarious style of music virtuoso that is all of their own.
Is it art or is it rubbish? Whatever, it is still the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Unfashionable when unfashionable was the way to be. Too straight to be alternative, too alternative to be straight. Attracting packed audiences of all ages, from Glastonbury to Detroit, this strumming, plucking, singing ensemble turn essential rock and roll moments into a head on collision: the obituaries of rock and roll and melodious light entertainment. Terminal underachievers, somewhere between theatre, comedy, and music. Warning, ukuleles are played in this show.
The Ukulele Orchestra is a group of all-singing, all-strumming Ukulele players, who use instruments bought with loose change, and who believe 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, singing, awesome, foot-stomping obituary of rock-n-roll and melodious light entertainment featuring only the "bonsai guitar" and a menagerie of voices; no drums, no pianos, no backing tracks, and no banjos. A collision of post-punk performance and toe-tapping oldies. See the universe in the grain of a Ukulele. You may never think about music in the same way once you've been exposed to the Ukes' depraved musicology. The Orchestra use the limitations of the instrument to create a musical freedom with Ukuleles, (little ones, big ones, high ones, low ones) revealing unsuspected insights into popular music. From Tchaikovsky to Nirvana via Otis Reading, the Orchestra takes you on a world tour with only hand luggage and gives the listener "One Plucking Thing After Another".
The Ukulele Orchestra started as a bit of fun in 1985. The first gig, intended as a one-off, was a sell out, and after one more gig the Orchestra had been on national radio. Since then there have been hundreds of appearances on radio and TV worldwide.
There have been sold out concerts in America, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Germany and Japan, in venues as diverse as Ronnie Scott's world famous London jazz club, The Royal Festival Hall, Glastonbury Festival, Chicago Chamber Music Festival, The Big Chill, Cropredy and The Edinburgh Festival.
The Orchestra has rhythm, bass, baritone, tenor, soprano and lead Ukulele players, creating a rich palate of orchestration possibilities and registers. Sitting shoulder to shoulder in a semi-circle, they dress in formal evening wear like a symphony orchestra, reworking classics of rock 'n' roll, punk, jazz and classical music. In highlighting both the beauty and vacuity of the material, the Orchestra revel in the triviality and the self-reverence of popular and highbrow music, while being both serious and light-hearted. Sometimes a foolish song can move an audience more than high art. Audiences like to have a good time with the Ukulele Orchestra, which shows that musical intelligence and levity are not incompatible with acoustic versions of heavy metal, performance art techniques and the homage of a live karaoke.
This raggle taggle group of disparate performers from widely different backgrounds is an incongruous assemblage of misfits. Could it be that this entertainment tribe, this anthropological phenomenon, has sidestepped the 20th century problems of art and walked into a new form, like Delphic Oracles on Stars in Their Eyes?
Key performers are:
Dave Suich - compere at Glastonbury for the last 12 years and is in a side project rap band.
Peter Brooke-Turner - veteran of TV comedy has been a Eurovision Song finalist.
Hester Goodman - has done solo shows, TV, theatre and dance and seen her ideas "borrowed" by theatrical entrepreneurs.
George Hinchliffe - writer of TV/film music and can play 100 songs from 100 years in 100 minutes.
Kitty Lux - received a major songwriting award and the Queens Award for Industry.
Will Grove-White -has made acclaimed TV programmes and can pull monkey faces
Jonty Bankes - has been part of the rhythm section for many legendary rock and blues artists and is the current official Ukulele Orchestra whistling champion of the world.
Richie Williams - can spot a wagtail from fifty metres and enjoys a spot of light cleaning.
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will provide a full and efficient company capable of presenting the production, usually between 6 – 8 performers.
"The best musical entertainment in the country." - The Independent.
"The humble uke not only becomes a titchy instrument of itchy-fingered virtuosity, but also a vehicle for unbridled fun." - The Herald.
“The brilliance of these ukulele mentalists is made immediately clear through the contrast between their black tie dress and musical absurdity. Peppered with tongue in cheek audience banter and merciless use of puns and bad jokes, the set is tied firmly to the ground by their astonishing musical virtuosity.” - Festmag.
"The Best of British." - Michael Palin.
"The ukulele has found it's avant garde." - The Guardian.
"A musicologist's nightmare." - Music Week.
"Virtuosic." - Guitar Magazine.
"I laughed till I wet myself." - A famous actress.
"Bizarre." - The Daily Star.
“The best musical entertainment in the country.“ - The Independent.
"Among the great entertainers." - Evening Standard.
"May well turn out to be one of the turning points of 21st Century Art." - Brian Eno.
"Iconoclastic. Unabashed genre crashing antics. Nothing is spoof proof." - Sunday Times.
"Most people have to die before they become immortal. These ukulele superstars have no such worries." - New Musical Express.
“One of the hottest party bands around.” - Terence Blacker (The Independent, Nov 06).
“Perfectly polished professionalism, threaded through with dry wit and wry humour.” - Independent (April 07).
“Impressive solo voices and an absolute mastery of strum, pluck and twang ensured the sheer joy and beauty of the music was never lost in the comedy.” - Independent (April 07).