‘The Ukes’ to celebrate ‘30 plucking years’ with Oct. 13 concert at Eisenhower

September 16, 2015

Called “iconoclastic” (England’s Sunday Times), “wonderfully clever” (rock star David Bowie) and “a musicologist’s nightmare” (Music Week), The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain “30 plucking years” anniversary tour will make a stop at Penn State with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, in Eisenhower Auditorium on the University Park campus.

In 1985, George Hinchliffe and Kitty Lux began performing as a light-hearted comment against the state of the music industry in the United Kingdom. Eventually expanded to an eight-member orchestra, “The Ukes” have been performing together for more than 20 years and, separately, with R&B, punk, blues and avant-garde musicians including Martha Reeves, Brian Eno, The Mekons, Gang of Four, Chuck Berry and John Mayall.

The musicians’ collective, music-related experiences have influenced their eclectic repertoire, which includes renditions of classic rock songs such as “Psycho Killer” (Talking Heads) and “Life on Mars” (Bowie); theme songs from the films “Shaft” (Isaac Hayes) and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (Ennio Morricone); the classical canon — “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky); and a Russian Cossack-styled rendition of “Leaning on a Lamppost” by George Formby, England’s most famous ukulele player.

The musicians infuse each performance with wit.

“We are like The Rolling Stones. We loved each other for the first 20 years, and then we became inured to touring life,” said Hinchliffe in a January interview on the website B-C-ING-U.com. “We try to maim each other on a regular basis, but because we are English, we restrain ourselves.”

The orchestra has performed sold-out concerts worldwide — most notably at Australia’s Sydney Opera House, London’s Royal Albert Hall and New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Festival appearances include Electric Picnic, Glastonbury and The Big Chill. The musicians have appeared on television in performances with troubadour Yusef Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens) and boy-band superstar Robbie Williams, and on BBC’s “Electric Proms” with indie band Kaiser Chiefs.

The orchestra also has performed on the album “The Liberty of Norton Folgate” by British ska-rock band Madness and on various DJ remix and rock compilations. The ensemble has released a number of studio, live and compilation albums and DVDs.

To learn more about the presentation, and for ticketing information, visit The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain or call 814-863-0255.

Watch performances by the orchestra.

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring a visiting artist or artists, takes place in Eisenhower one hour before the concert and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.

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(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 23, 2015