Often despondent clients at local seniors homes will suddenly start tapping their feet, swaying in their seats, and smiling as Paul Luongo and his band of merry students stop in for a visit – and some music.
It’s knowing how much their music touches all types of audiences that motivate both Luongo – the former student turned musical director – as well as the current members of the ensemble to volunteer so much time during the holiday season spreading holiday cheer through music.
One student, Alessandra Lechuga, is psyched by these experiences.
“I like knowing that our music makes them happy for that moment and hopefully stays with them a while after our performance, as well,” she said.
Others shared similar sentiments, saying the shows are as rewarding for them as for the people they’re there to entertain.
“It feels nice to perform for the senior community during this time because the audience has been really interested in it making the performances more enjoyable,” said O-ren Imai.
“It’s nice to see that we can spread joy to them and make them happy,” shared Melissa Booth.
“Playing for seniors at this time of year is a great experience and I hope to perform for them again next year.” said Esther Bellefontaine.
“It’s great to see all the smiles on the people’s faces when performing,” interjected Ashia Jeon. “Knowing that our music is bringing them joy is a feeling I’ll never forget.”
In the months of November and December, members of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble in three of the four different age groups of students are spreading a lot of cheer.
They’re performing in close to 60 Christmas shows throughout the Lower Mainland – including numerous stops at seniors homes, community festivals, the Fort, Glow Christmas, and charity drives such as the Langley Christmas Bureau’s Children’s Wish Breakfast, the CTV Toy Mountain, Global TV’s wish breakfast, and next week’s CKNW Orphans’ Fund pledge day.
Clara Joo: “It fulfills me when I see the audience smiling as they listen to the music we make,” said Clara Joo, one of about 75 students who are participating in the various shows this Christmas season.
“I feel the need to give back to the community during the holiday season,” said Lida Magnus, “and I really get that sense from performing for seniors and the community. When the audience positively responds to a performance, I feel like I have accomplished my goal as a musician.”
“Its feels joyful to bring happiness to the members who cant get out into the community. Its wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of the people we perform too,” added Sara Thoeny.
Danika Gammie said it’s not just the audience who are fulfilled by these show. She and other students get so much reward out of the experience, as well.
“It makes me proud to know that all of the effort we put into our music can make both ourselves and others happy and that our music really does enrich both our lives and those of others.,” Gammie said.
Among the upcoming shows is their own fundraising concerts happening this Saturday at the Willoughby Christian Reformed Church.
Tickets are still available for The Themes of Christmas concerts being held Saturday, Dec. 8.
For the first time in several years – there will be two shows in one day, the first at 3:30 p.m. and the second at 7:30.
These hometown concerts will feature the Langley senior A and B ensembles. Tickets are available at www.langleyukes.com or by calling the box office at 604-340-8537 (UKES).
“This annual Christmas concert tradition, that has sold out over the past few years, is gaining more popularity due to its enjoyable program and getting audiences in the Christmas spirit and mood,” Luongo said.
These shows are a fundraiser for the ensemble’s annual trip to Hawaii. Next summer they’ll be performing their 25th annual show at the Sheraton Waikiki.
The group has also received a formal invitation to perform in Hamburg, Germany in October – a first ever for the ensemble.
“We are likely to make this trip happen, if all goes as planned with raising funds through performances like these upcoming two Christmas concerts,” Luongo said.
“We encourage the community of Langley to come out and support the ensemble that has successfully made Langley known as the ‘ukulele capital of Canada’.”