The New Classical Ukulele CD

A first CD of premiere recordings by Donald Bousted (ukulele) with Lee Ferguson (percussion).



Featured on KPFK Radio 90.7FM on 7 March, 2021

Featured on La radio Che ti rincore on 24 March, 2021

The playing on this CD is sublime: Donald extracts a beautiful tone from his ukulele, and his changes in tone are subtle and compelling. To get these wonderful composers on board was a fantastic achievement by Donald and when you mix this with Donald’s virtuosi playing, the whole album is a delight. Paul Mansell

Listening to this music, frequently feeling rooted to the spot, I was transfixed by sounds that felt to me like neurones firing in my brain, pulling up images from the unconscious. Tony Mizen

WORKS BY MARTIN BRIGHT, Loretta K. Notareschi, Hilary Robinson, Jim Dalton, Samantha Muir AND Donald Bousted

The New Classical Ukulele Sampler

I first started playing the ukulele for fun. There was a once-a-month ukulele jam in my local pub in London and it was a good night out and a bit of a laugh. As a guitarist I was naturally able to pick things up pretty quickly, although of course I would keep playing a G when I should have been playing a D. I came home one day and stopped, held to attention, outside the door.  Inside, I could hear my partner practicing her uke.  I was completely taken aback because it sounded so much like the lute, which had been my first study as a music undergraduate. I immediately started doing some Google searches and came up with ‘From Lute to Uke’ and ‘The Classical Ukulele’ by Tony Mizen and John King respectively. When those books arrived my life changed. That was in 2017.

A year later I discovered the recent publication of Loretta K Notareschi’s ‘Five Etudes’ and purchased them immediately. I was blown away.  I loved the fact that she had taken this instrument, not losing sight of its beautiful beginnings, into a completely different dimension; musically, spiritually and intellectually. At this point the connection was made between my ‘professional’ life in the world of new music (as a composer, producer and festival director), and the uke. Around this time I also discovered the fantastic performances of Samantha Muir on You Tube and I enjoyed reading about her own creative uke journey through research, arrangement and composition. So it gives me enormous pleasure to include not only Loretta’s Five Etudes on my first uke CD (and also a much more recent piece, her Four Moods), but also my interpretation of Samantha’s ‘Theme and Variations on The Dowie Dens of Yarrow’, one of a number of substantial compositions she has created for the uke. It was also wonderfully generous of Tony Mizen to agree to write an introduction to the CD: Tony, who, as I had found out through a number of email exchanges, is interested in many things and is, as it turns out, as interested in new music as well as arranging.

in 2019, when I first approached composer friends about the idea of contributing to the ukulele repertoire, the reaction was positive (after they had got all the usual jokes out of their systems, that is). I wouldn’t have dared to imagine then, however, that I would imminently be the recipient of the wonderful pieces which materialised for this CD and which I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and performing. The highly evocative ‘Februa’ by Hilary Robinson with its multiple parallel fifths and innovative tremolo patterns; the majestic musical world of Jim Dalton, inspired by ancient Greek musical organisation and the mischievous, witty conversation piece which is Water No.20 by one of my oldest friends, Martin Bright.

None of this would have been possible without three wonderful instruments.  I have owned my Dave Morgan soprano since 2019 but my Beau Hannam tenor and Red Sands baritone arrived in mid-2020. So a lot of preparation, planning and practice went on before the icing on the cake arrived! The skill and innovation of todays makers is an intrinsic part of the ukulele’s development and the stunning sound of these instruments has already been remarked upon by the composers I’m currently working with as well as by casual visitors to my You Tube channel.

I have fallen in love with the ukulele. I love it in all its forms, from Hawaiian through to Ragtime and to its magnificent and mis-matched arrangements alike. This is my very personal attempt to show its contemporary classical side.

Donald Bousted 2020