This is a past event.

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain 

When: Sun., Nov. 24, 7 p.m. 2013
Price: $10-32
Perhaps you've noted a recent uptick in ukulele-related activities. The instrument's surge in popularity isn't hard to trace or explain: They're not hard to play, after all, and they're cheap, portable and smile-inducing. Durham has its own ukulele orchestra, and last week, Carrboro hosted uke sensation Jake Shimabukuro. The six-year-old N.C. Ukulele Academy in Wilmington is thriving. For an instrument best known as the preferred sound of drunken sailors and Tiny Tim, this rise to respectability was anything but preordained. But the humble uke has transcended joke status.

This week, Duke Performances presents an ensemble that has honed its uke act over 25 years and serves as the bellwether of the current ukulele age. The eight-piece Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has headlined at Royal Albert Hall, but they goof around a lot, too. The group strikes the balance between music geekery and fun, treading a path of forebears such as Victor Borge, PDQ Bach and others who've dressed down the formality of orchestral music for the masses. There's a certain charm in hearing Lou Reed's heart-piercing "Satellite of Love" or the "Theme From Shaft" played with impish verve by a group of adults who look like they should be playing Tchaikovsky. But hey, they do that, too. —David Klein

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