Hailing from the home of The Hobbit movies, the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra is renowned for their winning combination of charming Kiwi humor, disarmingly small instruments, tongue-in-cheek panache and sublime musicality that brings an irresistible New Zealand heartland feel to the stage.
“New Zealand’s hottest music/comedy ensemble.” -- Christchurch Arts Festival
Since their first sold-out show in December 2005, the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra has become one of New Zealand’s most beloved live act.
The band grew rapidly from their early beginnings in a tiny Wellington café, when acclaimed Wellington musician Age Pryor cooked up the scheme with his friend Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords” and then the rest as you have it! Word spread to the other side of the café and within a few months, a dozen of the capital city’s most beguiling personalities had gathered to lovingly reinterpret hit songs from across the musical generations, with a healthy dose of Kiwi humour thrown in.
The orchestra’s command of the beloved four-stringed instrument places them at the forefront of the ukulele revival in New Zealand, and in the company of the world’s great ukulele acts, many of whom they have played with. More than a ‘ukulele band’, their not-to-be-missed stage show is a contemporary twist on the dance hall show-bands of the mid 20th Century – skilled performers who live to entertain.
The band have made countless arts festival appearances, including sold-out shows at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (at the prestigious Gilded Balloon), Melbourne International Comedy Festival (Australia), NZ International Comedy Festival (winner: Best Local Act), and arts festivals from the top to the bottom of New Zealand. They have headlined the Melbourne Ukulele Festival (Australia) and the NZ Ukulele Festival, had standing-room-only crowds at major music festivals including Big Day Out, Cuba St Carnival and Splore, and played support for music legends Barry Gibb and Carole King in front of a 24,000-strong crowd.
The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra’s own tours of New Zealand, Australia and London have been sellouts, and they were the first ukulele act to appear in New Zealand’s premier concert hall, the Michael Fowler Centre (where they performed two full capacity shows in one night). Off-stage, the ensemble have become chart-topping recording artists in New Zealand, with four recordings to date. They have collaborated with many of the greats of New Zealand’s music scene, appeared on the BBC with KT Tunstall, and performed soundtrack work for advertising campaigns, television documentaries, sitcoms and feature films.
The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra’s members are drawn from all corners of the musical spectrum, and they hold down a fascinating array of day-jobs.
Musical Director: Age Pryor
Technical Director: Gil Eva Craig
2016 Touring Party: Age Pryor, Andy Morley-Hall, Hal Strewe, Stephen Jessup, Megan Hosking, Deanne Krieg, Francis Salole, Bek Coogan