Nirvana on the Ukulele? The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain Comes to La Jolla!

ukulele orchestra of great britain
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a group of ukulele-toting, singing musicians who buy instruments with loose change and believe that all genres of music are available for re-imagination, with one caveat – that they are all played on the ukulele. From rocking out to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (check out the video below!) to Tchaikovsky’s elegant “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” and recreating the melodic warbling of Simon and Garfunkel, these eight incredible musicians have truly mastered the art of the uke with a musical repertoire that spans generations.This performance is one you won’t want to miss, and they’re coming to the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla!

What You’ll Hear

There are no drums, pianos, backing tracks, pitch changers, or any modern electronic chicanery; just a group of music lovers playing the ukulele in a captivating demonstration of how much one versatile musical instrument and a few dedicated singers can change the way music sounds. Using both large and small instruments and playing intricate melodies, simple tunes, or complex chords all the while dressed in formal evening gowns and suits – the Orchestra is quite a sight to behold! They utilize what would normally be considered the limitations of a ukulele (its small range, for instance) to expand upon and totally recreate its musical spectrum. There is very little the Orchestra won’t play, from the more frivolous popular hits to the classics and even the light, amusing anthems of the unpretentious.

How it All Started…

The Orchestra was formed in England in 1985 as simply a fun side project, but their very first gig was an instant sell-out and they’ve been performing in various venues around the world ever since. By 1988 they had released an LP, appeared on BBC TV, and recorded a BBC Radio 1 session; since then, they have recorded and released six studio albums and two DVDs. The current ensemble has been playing together for over 20 years and have given thousands of sold-out concerts across the world, including USA, Japan, Germany, and France, just to name a few. They’ve sold out concerts at the Sydney Opera House, The Royal Albert Hall, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Needless to say, these guys are quickly becoming a national institution and are already an international sensation.

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20 Years and Counting

Collaborators have included the likes of Madness, David Arnold, The British Film Institute, The Ministry of Sound, Yusuf Islam (aka the great Cat Stevens) and The Kaiser Chiefs. The current octet consists of seven ukulele players and one bassist; the members all wear traditional orchestra dress for performances, with the men in black tie and the women in gowns or other evening wear. Current members in The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain are Dave Suich, Peter Brooke Turner, Hester Goodman, George Hinchliffe, Richie Williams, Kitty Lux, Will Grove-White and Jonty Bankes.

The La Jolla Music Society is excited to present this incredible show at the Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla (Sherwood Auditorium) on Friday, Jan 23 at 8pm. Visit their website to purchase tickets and to get more information.


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