The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will perform in Gainesville on Friday, Dec. 2, and I’m delighted I’ll be in the audience.
There’s something inspiring about group musical performances. I developed that enthusiasm for musical groupwork from my own experience of playing clarinet in the high school band. Our band director would lead us through rehearsal with different sections playing. Often we would start and need to replay segments.
Then came the time – after all those rehearsals — for the band to play the complete piece. Each section contributed something special, and the result was magical.
That’s the feeling I have as I listen to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Sopranino, soprano, concert, tenor and bass ukuleles combine to create an unexpected approach to songs from “Pinball Wizard” to “The Theme from Shaft.”
Another reason I’m so fond of the ukulele is that it has led me on quite a few adventures.
I enjoyed playing the ukulele and decided to make my own cigar box ukuleles. That led me to become familiar with cigar stores in St. Augustine and Tampa where I would purchase the cigar boxes for the ukulele bodies. My ukuleles were on the walls at Satchel’s Pizza one month as part of the monthly local artist display.
When I was going to be helping teach a workshop at the University of California/Berkeley one summer, I arranged to study for a week with ukulele luthier Mike DaSilva and made a beautiful ukulele from koa wood.
As a special part of the concert, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britian is encouraging members of the audience to bring their ukuleles and join them in playing three Christmas songs – “Jingle Bells,” “Good King Wenceslas” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”
Having just discovered this audience participation opportunity, I’m practicing for Friday night. I wanted you to be aware of this opportunity, too. Tickets for Friday’s concert still are available. If you can’t attend the concert play along, you can practice on your own and with other ukulele players.