It’s all about the Uke!

Watch this amazing excerpt from Richard’s new piece Knepp for four ukuleles – part of the premiere to be unveiled on 26 February with cello, hand drummers and electric bass by Shoreham’s maverick musician…

“The re-wilding activities at the Knepp estate near Horsham inspired and informed this new piece. It was conceived at an outdoor gig one perfect summer’s evening back in 2018 playing music with the nightingale. Knepp itself is a wilding site of international significance which, for those who take time to look, contains a lesson for the entire planet.”


Richard Durrant has also written a six movement ukulele concerto as well as a ukulele quartet. His work is often featured in the UKE Magazine. Click on the image above for more.

But what exactly is the ukulele? And what makes it so different from the guitar?

The ʻukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese Machete – no not the big blade for slashing through the jungle – but a small guitar-like instrument also called the machete de braga or Cavaquinho brought over to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants, mainly from Madeira and the Azores.

Hawaii’s King Kalākaua was a great patron of the arts and encouraged the use of this new instrument into performances at royal gatherings.

The Hawaiin name ‘ukulele (oo-koo-leh-leh) roughly translates as Jumping Flea, possibly because of the movement of the player’s fingers. This might explain why Ukulele players remember the tuning of the four strings with My Dog has Fleas:

From Hawaii the Ukulele quickly gained great popularity in the USA and around the world and come in all shapes and sizes – most commonly as soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone – between them offering a range greater than that of the guitar:

Through the 20th century the popularity of the instrument took off in the works of jazz and popular music. Eclipsed to some extent by the guitar in this genre, since the 1990’s there has been a huge revival in the ukulele since the 1990’s with a new generation of musicians and In many schools it has become recognised as a great instrument to learn in the classroom – beats the recorder any day!

Did you know…?

Just last year Jake Shimabukuro’s ʻukulele rendition of George Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ went viral on Youtube receiving over 16 million views! 

George Hinchcliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain play and sing music from a variety of musical genres featuring all types of ukuleles.  Richard produced their classic album The Secret of Life back in 2004. Within weeks the band where filmed for Jools Holland’s Hootenanny and appeared on radio and television across Europe.

Pictured: Richard with George Hinchliffe ahead of the forthcoming uke gig at Ropetackle

The band are now an international phenomenon widely credited as being responsible for the global popularity of the uke.

Joining Richard on stage on 26 Feb to perform Knepp will be ukulele mega-star George Hinchcliffe, the ever modest co-founder of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Other players involved in the premiere include Richard’s four children and his wonderful Ukulele Circuit Trainers at the end of their annual six week ukulele course.

The rest of the concert will feature Richard’s solo guitar playing and the first performance of Richard’s Ukulele Quartet No1 Tan y Bwlch (with GeorgeHinchliffe, Mark Allen, Felix St Maur Sheil & Richard Durrant) plus plenty of other musical surprises.

Ukes and All!

26 February 2020, 7.30pm 
Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 5EG

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