The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain brought holiday spirit and good cheer in general to Gainesville in their concert at the University Auditorium on Dec. 2.
In their two-hour performance, they demonstrated the range of the ukulele, playing a wide of musical styles — from Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” to the theme from the James Bond movie “Thunderball” to AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.”
This was an interactive concert with the audience being encouraged to clap along with “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” — and we did.
The orchestra promoted their December 2016 USA Seasonal shows as an opportunity for audience members to bring their ukuleles to the concert and play along on three holiday tunes. At one point, the audience was asked how many had brought their ukuleles, and dozens of ukuleles were lifted in the air.
I was sitting in a section that included several others who had brought their ukuleles. Before the concert started, we tuned our ukes and compared our ukuleles. We’d also brought the music for the three songs either printed or digital on our phones. The UOGB posted the sheet music and video tutorials on their website in a playalong section.
The three songs — “Jingle Bells,” “Good King Wenceslas ” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” — were spread throughout the performance. Several stanzas were played of each song to help the players in the audience get more confident in their playing. Sometimes the audience was asked to sing along. In one case, the orchestra stopped playing so that everyone could hear just the audience players.
People in my section of the auditorium were craning their heads so they could see and hear our section of players. What fun!