Music and mirth from The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain

The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain play at Buxton Opera House on October 26.
The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain play at Buxton Opera House on October 26.
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World renowned all-singing, all-plucking superstars, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will be returning to Buxton with their toe-tapping music and hilarious banter.

Ahead of their concert on October 26, we put founding member George Hinchliffe under the spotlight:

Q. How have the current run of performances/rehearsals been coming along?

A. We’ve been looking forward to our UK tour, we have some new music and some of our old favourites. We usually get fans who’ve seen us before or who’ve seen us on our Youtube channel, calling out for their favourites. Usually of course, the point is that we slightly twist all the songs and tunes that we do so that they become something new. Because we’re using ukuleles we can make Mozart sound like a Taylor Swift backing track, or Kraftwerk, the German band, sound like EDM.

Q. Is it the idea that people think the ukulele is a toy?

A. Well…. music is all about play. If you’re working hard, it ain’t playful, and music should be playful. Beethoven, Dolly Parton, Garth Brookes, The Rolling Stones, The Weekend, they’re all playful.

Q. How do you think you have changed that misguided perception?

A. We say that one of the interesting things about the ukulele is that it’s a “common person’s” sort of instrument, it isn’t an elitist instrument. With a ukulele everybody is a celebrity. The cost of a round of drinks and you’ve got yourself a band. People say, learn three chords and start a band. We say, three chords, why so many?

Q. What is most difficult about writing/performing with a ukulele?

A. A gig with a solo ukulele gives certain problems; there are no bass notes.

We are an orchestra though, so we have bass, baritone, tenor, concert, soprano, and all the other registers. We are more in tune with an orchestral conception than a ukulele enthusiasts preoccupation. Having said that most of the time we play rock music, Nirvana, The Clash, Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams, Talking Heads and so on.

Q How does your sense of humour and personality influence the group’s playing?

A. We always try to get on the with the audience, to make the show as entertaining as possible. Humour comes about because we interrupt each other and we all have different perspectives.

Q. What can the ukulele do that other instruments cannot?

A. A ukulele often comes across as disarming; it’s hard not to smile. The instrument is like a little dog; friendly and making a high pitched noise. It’s fun, but too much of it can get irritating. Our audiences maybe think that the show will be simplistic, with a ukulele maybe the bar is set pretty low in people’s expectations. After that, anything positive is a bonus.

n The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will be at Buxton Opera House on October 26 at 7.30pm. Tickets £26 to £28. Call 01298 72190 or visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk