Musical Masters of the Unexpected

THE UKULELE ORCHESTRA OF GREAT BRITAIN - NOV 19

A sprinkling of Christmas is on the cards when the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain makes a return visit to Norwich Theatre Royal on Sunday, November 19.

Proving themselves to be masters of the unexpected, the orchestra’s Heresy ­II­ Heritage­ Tour will offer a re-imagining of popular folk songs, twisted classical music favourites, or quirky versions of rock covers.

A big hit on previous visits to the theatre, the orchestra has been together for over 30 years. The group of all-singing, all-strumming Ukulele players use instruments bought with loose change to bring the songs to life.  There are no drums, pianos, backing tracks or banjos, no pitch shifters or electronic trickery. Sitting in chamber group format, dressed in formal evening wear, the Orchestra uses the limitations of the instrument and their own voices to create a musical freedom.

Formed in 1985 for fun, the orchestra’s first gig was an instant sell-out. 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, performing across the UK and in Germany, Sweden, Finland, Poland, France, America, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.

They have also performed sell-out shows at the Sydney Opera House, The Royal Albert Hall (twice) and New York’s Carnegie Hall (twice). Their music has been used in films, plays, and commercials, while collaborators have included Madness, David Arnold, The British Film Institute, The Ministry of Sound, Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) and The Kaiser Chiefs.

Bob Paterson, of promoters Movers and Shakers, said: “We are looking forward to coming back to Norwich and helping get the festive season off to a good start. We have some new songs, a slight change of line-up and some new material which will be slightly Christmas-tinged. Both the beauty and vacuity of popular and highbrow music are highlighted, the pompous and the trivial, the moving and the amusing. You may never think about music in the same way once you’ve been exposed to the Ukes’ musicology.”

The Ukulele Orchestra perform here on 19 November. Buy tickets now at Norwich Theatre Royal.