You can reread the previous sentence as many times as you like. Rub your eyes, shake your head, ask a friend to look – those words really are there: Ukulele Concerto.
The person responsible is composer Richard Durrant (a.k.a the barefoot, guitar virtuoso), proving once again that rumours of his musical eccentricity are true. More than that, Six Grooves will change perceptions of the musical capabilities of this wonderful instrument. Backed by the seventeen-piece Richard Durrant Orchestra and including a large group of local community uke players, Six Grooves for Ukulele is melodically adventurous and rhythmically challenging, yet somehow the tongue in cheek personality of the uke still prevails.
Durrant’s highly personalised orchestra comprises a string section, tuned & untuned percussion (marimba, vibes, berimbau, waterphone…), electric bass, piano & keyboards and Durrant’s own invention the ‘Bicyclatter’ – a huge frame hung around a drum-kit and made from various moving, pedalling bicycle parts.
But what use would a new piece for ukulele be if it did not encompass the heart of the uke: its spirit of community and inclusiveness? Fortunately, Durrant has given this aspect central importance; yes, he does gets to show us the full range of his virtuosity on this little wooden box but he also, rather ingeniously, manages to capture the instrument’s more familiar personality.
Ukulele groups from schools, classes, pubs, or those of us who simply like to perform in our own living rooms can attend a short series of Durrant workshops, culminating in a rehearsal with the orchestra on the day of the ‘Big Gig’. In this way Durrant integrates both the orchestral musician and the community musician under one roof, whilst highlighting the sheer power of the ukulele both musically and socially.
If the Richard Durrant Orchestra comes to your town then you can join them and help spread the message: the ukulele has arrived in concert halls across the land.
‘Ukulele players of the world unite!” – “The Ukulele needs you!!”.
(taken from a short article by Gary Cunningham)