Langley Ukulele Ensemble performed at Langley City’s Volunteer Appreciation Banquet in early March. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Langley Ukulele Ensemble opens doors for socially distanced kids camp in August

Instructor Peter Luongo said precautions are being taken for the annual uke week, Aug. 17 to 21

Langley Ukulele Ensemble (LUE) is still strumming away, despite COVID-19 closures; social-distance measures and lessons via Zoom have kept the local music institution going during the past four months.

Paolo Luongo, senior ensemble director, said musicians have been meeting three times a week online for virtual rehearsals and put together two virtual performances since the coronavirus pandemic began.

“One for Canada’s Nation-wide Music Monday and the other for Canada Day, with more virtual presentations to come this summer and into the fall and winter,” Luongo assured.

He said the ensemble was especially thankful to be included as a part of the entertainment that the Township of Langley presented on July 1, since most performances that occur during the summer have been postponed or cancelled.

“We highlighted some of Canada’s most well-known musical groups or artists such as B.T.O., Bryan Adams, Steppenwolf, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard Cohen – to name a few,” Luongo explained. “The virtual performance, which was put together by Luke Strahm, also included some imagery across the Atlantic, east, and west coasts of our beautiful nation.”

The ensemble is preparing to record three chapters of their most recent CD, released in October 2019 called One Love, One Heart.

“Our videographer is in the midst of putting together a video montage of highlights throughout this year’s performances. Our photographer is also doing the same in a slideshow fashion with the various moments that were captured this year prior to the pandemic hitting us in March,” Luongo explained.

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It’s been a very different year for LUE; members would be regularly readying for a trip to the Hawaii International Ukulele Festival, held every summer except this one due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Former ensemble director Peter Luongo said this was the first time in 35 years that he and LUE musicians were not attending, while classes via Zoom are proving to be a challenge.

“You lose the synapses of performing together this way. Your more dynamic in a group setting and learn from each other,” he said.

While the rest of 2020 looks uncertain in terms of live performance dates and even their yearly Christmas concert, Luongo said LUE is going ahead with Uke Camp this coming August.

The 14th annual camp welcomes children grades four through seven at all levels from Monday, Aug. 17 to Friday, Aug 21.

“We’re working on drop off and pick up procedures and will have a maximum of 60 kids,” Luongo assured, noting that the number of participants would be almost half of the amount they had last year.

Registration is open and there is still space for uke instruction.

People can visit https://www.langleyukes.com/uke-camp for more info.

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Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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