Members of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble are celebrating its 35th birthday later this month, with an anniversary concert showcasing the up-beat sounds of the ukulele.
Close to 100 band members, past and present, will be gracing the Chandos Pattison Auditorium stage on Saturday, Oct. 22, to perform for friends, family, and fans.
And for Peter Luongo, there’s a lot to celebrate as the former ensemble director of the group.
Peter was director for 32 years, before passing the reins to his son, Paul, in 2013. Now, Peter’s acting president of the ensemble.
During the past 35 years, the ensemble has run on steady support from parent volunteers, Peter said.
And as a volunteer-based, after-school program, it has lasted more than three decades, “still maintaining a high-profile, standard of excellence in performance,” Peter said.
Currently, two senior and two intermediate ensembles perform throughout the Lower Mainland and abroad, bringing a “tremendous reputation to Langley’s community,” Peter said.
Recently, three band members Carmen Mendonca, Andrew Song, and Davinia Van Samang, visited Langley City Library for a mini-show for youngsters – one example of the group’s community involvement.
While earning a spot on international stages, the ensemble has supported the growth of a few notable ukulele players, including Juno-nominated James Hill.
Hill played with the Langley ensemble for 10 years.
As a youth-focused ensemble, its goal isn’t just for its members to find success with a ukulele in hand, Peter explained, but in any desired endeavour.
“Worth celebrating… [is] the success of literally hundreds of young people who’ve not just learned to play the ukulele and make music, but taken real true life skills and transferred over to their own life,” Peter said.
“There have been all sorts of successful young people who move onto success in their own communities, in a variety of ways,” Peter continued.
More youth are involved now, than in the past 10 years, Peter noted – possibly because the “ukulele has made a comeback.”
This past August, more than a hundred kids signed up for ukulele camp.
And as ukulele’s continue to be “re-popularized,” and played in commercials and mainstream songs, its popularity will continue to increase, Peter estimated.
Saturday’s performance takes place at 10238 168th St., Surrey.
Show starts at 7, and doors open 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $22.50 for adults, $17.50 for seniors and children, and can be purchased at langleyukes.com, or at the Langley Ukulele Box office.
PHOTO: Carmen Mendonca, Andrew Song, and Davinia Van Samang recenlty played a few songs at Langley City library during the library’s launch of ukulele rentals. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press)