'The Nation's Ukulele Orchestra'
BBC News, Radio 4, 23rd September 2014
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The latest news from The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

  • When This Lousy War is Over

    The “Ukes” tour of “Lousy War” takes place over the next few weeks. Marking the centenary of the end of WW1. A show which astonishes with its humour, insight and suprising historical research. The customary joy and humour of the ukulele entertainment juggernaut is there, but also moving and serious music, a feminist anthem, songs from other countries involved, France, Germany, even Africa and China, a WW1 George Formby Senior song, a Cabaret Voltaire piece and scurrilous soldier’s parody lyrics.

    The UOGB CD “Lousy War” featuring music from the show, will be on sale at all of the concerts in this tour. 

    Wed 24 Oct 2018 - Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire.   SOLD OUT. Box Office: 01225 860 100

    Fri 26 Oct 2018 - Kings Hall, Ilkley.  TICKETS. Box Office: 01943 602319

    Sat 27 Oct 2018 - Cast, Doncaster.  TICKETS  Box Office: 01302 303 959

    Sun 28 Oct 2018 - Gala Theatre, Durham. TICKETS. Box Office: 03000 266 600

    Mon 05 Nov 2018 - The Stables, Milton Keynes. TICKETS. Box Office: 01908 280800

    Sun 11 Nov 2018 - Birmingham Town Hall. 2 Shows 3pm & 7.30pm: TICKETS  Box Office: 0121 780 3333

    The world famous Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is, as usual, a joyful and humourous entertainment juggernaut. Yet here, marking the centenary of WW1, it astonishes, with unexpectedly moving, intriguing, musical history in a show with a difference. 

    Honour, resilience and humour are celebrated, respecting those who fell. 

    Pride, sorrow and grim irony are found in music, loved, written and sung at the time.

    Unusually, there is music from many countries, including not only Britain, France, Germany, Italy, America and New Zealand but also reflecting the involvement of Africa and China. 

    The inspirational show ranges from patriotic marches to songs pacifist and feminist; from gypsy tune to music hall, soldiers’ scurrilous lyrics to early jazz, with poignant ballads and even an item from the anarchist, anti-war, radical avante-garde Caberet Voltaire in neutral Switzerland.

    What more unusual items will we find in the show?

    A song recorded by George Formby Senior, father of the famous ukulele player, and himself a best selling wax cylinder star from the years prior to WW1. 

    Songs which were sung by soldiers including scurrilous parody lyrics to famous tunes. 

    Unique ukulele orchestra arrangements of significant or intriguing pieces of music, such as: 

    Colonel Bogey. You’re thinking of the River Kwai or the lost property office at the Albert Hall. But no. This dates from the First World War and was written by Lieutenant F J Ricketts (as Kenneth Alford). 

    Snoopy and the Red Baron. A song referencing the Peanuts cartoon. No. It’s not simply anachronistic; that dog was named after the Canadian flyer who, it was thought, brought down Baron Richthoven. 

    Wild Geese. A poignant German song with lyrics by Walter Flex (died in battle in 1917, a German equivalent of British WW1 poet Wilfred Owen). 

    Music of the period which was played in London at the time but is not normally associated with the war, such as “From Marble Arch to Leicester Square”. 

    Bilingual versions of songs known through war diaries of the orchestra’s relatives to be sung at the famous unofficial “Christmas Truce” and football match in no-man’s land.

    The touching and celebrated Banks of Green Willow by George Butterworth, who died at the Somme in 1916. Often played as a memorial and to celebrate “Englishness”. 

    Come to one of the “never to be repeated” concerts on the tour. You’ll hear material not found in other WW1 concerts, along with the UOGB’s humour and reverence. 

  • 2018 Festival Appearances!

    The Orchestra is thrilled to be playing at festivals this year, including the Austrian Ukulele Festival in Graz, Underneath the Stars, Barnsley and the Sidmouth Folk Week. We will be bringing our unique combination of the well-known and the unknown; off-the-wall music and re-imagined overworked classic songs. In the early days of the UOGB sometimes the comments included views that the repertoire was too challenging or far-out. Currently we are more likely to hear that attendees allegedly yearning for a musical art designed to elicit beard-stroking brain-ache opine that the Orchestra is far too populist and the act constitutes mere entertainment. Comments included: “Too lowbrow for Geoffrey”, and “Dumbing down of the worst kind”. In this time of unease and uncertainty we think it might be considered a pleasant thing to be criticised for being popular and entertaining. What do you think, is it best to be credible or loved, widely appreciated or under-rated yet critically acclaimed? Or can we have it all and be off-the-wall and on-the-ball simultaneously? We hope so. We’ve always been “on the back foot forward”. Why stop now. 

  • DVD of "Concert for Kitty" Announced

    The DVD of the “Concert for Kitty”, recorded at The Barbican in London to celebrate the life of Kitty Lux, singer, composer and UOGB founder, is being edited and is scheduled for release later in 2018. The programme includes the full orchestra, and a recreation of the very first UOGB gig with the original performers. The programme includes Prokofiev, Clean Bandit, Highway to Hell, Willie Nelson, Holiday for Strings and Kitty’s compositions including one sung alone by George, as well as her “Death I laugh in your face” and her Sheeny and the Goys classic “Ever Such Pretty Girls”, ending up with a stage invasion on “Bondage up Yours”. Includes footage of the orchestra playing live at the Ukulele Society of Great Britain in 1987. 

  • New Album Out Now!

    ‘By Request: Songs From the Set List’  is an album created in direct response to our fans wishlist of music.  An album conceived to deliver some of the list of requests received from fans all around the planet, from Tasmania to Svalbard, Lerwick to Adelaide, Paris to Toronto, or from Beijing to New York, in short wherever the Ukes have performed and thrilled audiences with their renowned stomping, laughter inducing, thought provoking live shows.

    The album was recorded at Urchin studio in London. It has the lustre, depth and sonic clarity which only a fully equipped modern studio with a great acoustic can bring to bear. Plus the time for the orchestra to stretch out in space and recording time. This recording promises to be the one which sets the standard for any other ukulele orchestra recordings. There are old and new popular songs, obscure but choice oldies, twisted covers and mash ups, and the inimitable jollity, joy and exuberance of the orchestra's celebrated style; from hard rocking classics to moody ballads via a confluence of Woodstock and New Orleans Mardi Gras.

    Available to buy now!

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