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Carolina Ukulele Ensemble to put on first full-length concert

The Carolina Ukulele Ensemble plans to prove that the humble ukulele is a musical force to be reckoned with.

CUE, formed in 2010, is putting on its first-ever full-length concert tonight, titled “The Happiest Night of the Year.”

“We want to have the image of being a happy, light-hearted, positive campus group that just has fun,” said senior chemistry major Jeff Hymes, the founder and director of CUE.

The group takes the concept of guitar ensembles and reimagines it for the ukulele, he said.

“We’re playing some ukulele classics, but we’re also playing a bunch of songs that most people don’t associate with ukuleles,” Hymes said. This includes songs by The Killers, Katy Perry and Maroon 5. This concert will also debut CUE’s audition-based advanced ensemble, which won this year’s Carolina’s Got Talent competition. The subset consists of 12 members. Forty students will be performing as part of the larger group.

“People are broken up into different parts, whether they’re picking or doing different chord versions,” said freshman CUE member Archer Boyette. “Everyone in the advanced group has learned something just by being there.”

Boyette said while many people view the ukulele as a playful instrument, it can absolutely be used for impressive musical arrangements.

“It’s happy, but it should also be taken seriously as an instrument,” she said.

Sophomore psychology major Stephanie Tepper, the assistant director of CUE, said she would like to inspire other universities to form their own ukulele ensembles.

“We are, to the best of our knowledge, the first and only ukulele ensemble collegiate,” she said.

Tepper said the best part of being in CUE is playing in quad jams on Fridays and eliciting positive reactions from fellow students.

“Seeing people walk by, there’s a look of surprise or a smile,” Tepper said. “Even if they don’t stop, it’s great seeing that you can have that impact on the community, even on a small scale.”

Senior business major Ryan Aves, CUE’s performance coordinator, said this concert establishes the group’s growing campus presence.

“This is a gig where we can showcase how much talent we have and do more advanced rearrangements musically,” Aves said. “We’ve spent the last two and a half years doing intermission shows for other campus organizations, and it’s exciting to finally have our own concert.”

The UNC Walk-ons will be performing for the intermission show.

“We have a rep at UNC for being the happiest group on campus, and we want our concert to affirm that,” Aves said.

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