Members of the Nanaimo Ukulele Festival Committee want to change people’s perceptions of the instrument.
The ukulele is often regarded as a toy, not as a serious instrument, said Carol Johns, a committee member.
To help raise more awareness and introduce people to high calibre ukulele playing the festival is welcoming James Hill and Anne Janelle as feature performers this year.
“James is one of the most accomplished ukulele players,” said Johns. “With people like James Hill, his calibre of playing, you have to take the ukulele seriously.”
Johns has seen Hill perform multiple times.
“Every time I walk away from one of his concerts I am inspired to keep going and practice,” she said.
Hill and Janelle, a Canadian folk music awarding ukulele and cello duo, perform Saturday (July 15) at 7 p.m. at the Neighbourhood Church, located at 4951 Rutherford Rd. Tickets are $25 available at Arbutus Music or the festival’s website.
Hill grew up laying folk, jazz and blues music and Janelle is trained as a classical cellist. The ukulele produces a high sound and the cello produces a low sound, because of this the instruments “contrasts are complementary,” according to the duo’s website.
“We’re like a pair of dancers who can’t step on each other’s feet,” said Hill in a press release.
The two met when they were asked to partner on a song on a compilation album called Classical Ukulele. They chose Schubert’s Ave Maria and arranged it for both instruments.
The festival runs Saturday and Sunday (July 15-16). It includes concerts and a number of workshops.
The Ukulele Jammin’ Jamboree is July 16 at the Neighbourhood Church at 3 p.m. Admission is by donation and ukulele’s are available for attendees. The Revolving Doors, a band from Parksville, will perform during the first half of the evening.
“We are basically trying to bring together as many people in the church to just celebrate – celebrate playing together and celebrate the love of music,” said Johns, adding that people don’t have to play they can just attend and clap their hands or sing.
For more information about the Nanaimo Ukulele Festival, including tickets, workshop times and locations, please www.nanaimoukulelefestival.ca.