Commanding the four-string like you’ve never heard it before, the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra has become a sell-out outfit. Its live show features sing-a-long favourites, blazing solos, stunning dress sense, sparkling harmonies, and comic banter. The orchestra faithfully reproduces hit songs from across the musical spectrum, including numbers from The White Stripes, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart, Leonard Cohen, The Muttonbirds, Split Enz, Pixie Williams, and DD Smash.
The orchestra played its first gig as a sextet in December 2005. Word spread, and over the summer of 2005-2006, as more random Wellingtonians were unmasked as ukulele players, the orchestra doubled to its current quota of twelve.
The WIUO’s version of Andre 3000’s ‘Heya’ has become a YouTube hit, and in Jan 2007 they strummed their way across the top of the South Island in a sold-out summer tour. In May 2007, the orchestra opened the New Zealand Music Commission’s New Zealand Music Month showcase at Galatos and was named 91ZM’s pick of New Zealand Music Month. Late 2007 saw the WIUO play sell-out concerts at the Tauranga Arts Festival and Nelson Arts Festival, and feature at the Kapono New Zealand Ukulele Festival.
The WIUO has played favourites on Saturday with Kim Hill, taught Jaquie Brown from Campbell Live how to play the uke, and attracted seventy-three ukulele enthusiasts to a mass uke-in on the waterfront for the Wellington Fringe Festival Fricnic. The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra continues to play at Deluxe Café, 10 Kent Terrace, on the first Thursday morning of every month.
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