For the past decade, the entire uke ensemble has been invited to take a lengthy catamaran ride on the west side of the Honolulu island of Hawaii while they’re in town performing at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort. This time, the captain, Ka’imi, let retired ensemble director Peter Luongo take the helm for a brief time. (Nicole Braithwaite/Special to the Langley Advance)

VIDEO: Langley kids play Hawaii, again

Milestone year for Langley Ukulele Ensemble as they celebrate quarter century performing in Waikiki

Sailing out along the west side of Honolulu in a large catamaran, soaking in the stunning blue skies, majestic island scapes, and the vastness of the turquoise ocean with dolphins swimming along side their watercraft, a gaggle of 22 young Langley musicians were treated to the breathtaking views before hitting the stage at the Sheraton Hotel Waikiki one last time Friday night.

None of the local kids – all members of the Langley Ukulele senior ensemble – were thinking about the flight home Monday after a week-long visit to Hawaii, nor were they fixated on the fact they’d be in the studio next Tuesday through Saturday recording a new album – One Love One Heart: Celebrating 25 years of Aloha at the Sheraton Waikiki.

RELATED STORY: Langley uke ensemble shares some summer love Friday

They were captivated, focused entirely on the moment – as it should be said Peter Luongo, the retired ensemble director and one of the adult chaperones on the trip with the kids.

“They’re having an absolute blast,” added Luongo, who started visiting Hawaii, and specifically the Sheraton Waikiki resort, 26 years ago with the ensemble. The uke group has been back all but one of the subsequent years – that being the one year when Luongo senior retired as director and handed the reins over to his son, Paul.

“Life’s good,” senior said, getting behind the wheel with the captain, Ka’imi. It’s an excursion the ensemble has been fortunate enough to make for 10 years now, since Ka’imi saw the kids perform. He was apparently so impressed with their performance, and especially their efforts to learn and share some of the songs native to the area, that he asked to say ‘thank you’ by taking them out on his boat.

“It’s a pretty incredible experience,” Paul Luongo chimed in, taking the phone from his father, while too taking in his magnificent surroundings.

“Wow. It’s amazing,” he said, looking out at the scenery then over at the kids – 11 new and 11 returning young musicians – watching them laugh and revel in the experience.

In just a few hours, the ensemble would be back on stage again performing. But for now, Paul said, they’re just being kids and enjoying an adventure most people will never have.

Despite some flight delays, the Langley Ukulele Ensemble arrived in Hawaii last Monday, and performed each day for the hotel guests. They also performed a few special community concerts around the island, including four shows for local Rotary Clubs.

They were set to wrap up Friday night with a Mahalo [thank you] dinner with the Sheraton staff and what Peter called their Waikiki ohana [a Hawaiian word meaning extended family], then head home.

The ensemble has gone through what director Paul describes as a “huge transition” this past season, with about half of the kids graduating out last year and a new flock of musicians joining the senior ensemble this season.

Consequently, “a lot of the kids didn’t have any idea of what to expect” when they landed in Hawaii, Paul said, noting how much the trip served to bond the kids – not only with each other but with their Sheraton ohana.

“They’ve grown as individuals. They’ve grown both on and off stage, and they’ve done a great job representing the Langley Ukulele Ensemble, Langley, and even Canada,” Paul said. “They’re incredible ambassadors.”

While the ensemble heads into the studio upon their return, they also have a few shows coming up. They’re performing two shows Sunday (July 28), as part of the Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival, followed by another show that same day in Richmond.

Other local shows included the Sounds of Summer music festival in Langley and another show in Abbotsford in mid-August, plus a show at the PNE.

“It certainly doesn’t slow down,” Paul said of summer, noting there’s also a ukulele camp being held Aug. 6 to 9 in Langley with at least 100 kids set to participate. These, Luongo senior interjected, are the future ensemble members – kids who will be making the return trips to Hawaii in future. There is still room for a few more camp participants, with information available on the ensemble website.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Langley Ukulele Ensemble wraps up a week-long trip to Hawaii. This is the 25th anniversary of the ensemble performing at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort. (Nicole Braithwaite/Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley Ukulele Ensemble wraps up a week-long trip to Hawaii. This is the 25th anniversary of the ensemble performing at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort. (Nicole Braithwaite/Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley Ukulele Ensemble wraps up a week-long trip to Hawaii. This is the 25th anniversary of the ensemble performing at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort. (Nicole Braithwaite/Special to the Langley Advance)

Just Posted

TRAFFIC: Roadwork, stalled semi causing major delays on Highway 1 in Langley

Westbound commuters should try the Fraser Highway or 56th Ave

‘Exciting’ Aldergrove Town Centre proposal clears first hurdle

Township council passes first and second readings of Janda Group’s plans for the old mall downtown

VIDEO: House fire on Old Yale Road draws multiple fire units

No immediate reports of serious injuries

Party bus door faulty for years ahead of Langley woman’s death: Coroner

Tuesday report classifed Chelsea James’ death accidental, but was critical of bus inspection process

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Alessia Cara to host and perform at 2020 Juno Awards

Multi-platinum Canadian singer-songwriter also up for six awards, including Artist of the Year

Most Read