Peter Luongo has returned to teaching ukulele to young children with Langley Ukulele Ensemble. But here, he’s seen coaxing his 10-month-old grandson, Enzo, to strum a few chords. Maybe a little too young, yet, for the ensemble. (Facebook/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Peter Luongo has returned to teaching ukulele to young children with Langley Ukulele Ensemble. But here, he’s seen coaxing his 10-month-old grandson, Enzo, to strum a few chords. Maybe a little too young, yet, for the ensemble. (Facebook/Special to Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Peter Loungo is back on stage this weekend

Long-time Langley Ukulele Ensemble director returns to teach younger kids

He’s back.

Maybe not in the same capacity, but Peter Luongo has returned as a music instructor with the Langley Ukulele Ensemble, and he’ll make his first public appearance with his young prodigies this Saturday at a sold-out Christmas concert in Fort Langley.

Peter headed up the ensemble from its formative years in the 1980s, until 2013 – when he retired and turned the reins over to his son, Paolo.

While Paolo remains in his position as senior musical director (overseeing the senior and transitional ensembles), Peter has stepped back into the fold, filling a vacancy as the director for the ensemble’s intermediate aged (typically eight to 12) musicians.

“I missed it…” Peter admitted of working with children.

“But more than anything, I want to contribute to the community through the kids.”

While Peter spent the past decade in so-called retirement, he kept working and playing throughout.

The retired school administrator continues to mentor current and future uke teachers, and work with adult ukulele students.

RELATED – VIDEO: Retirement spells bliss for long-time Langley Uke Man

In fact, he has been and continues to direct adult ensembles in Canada and the U.S., and he is a regular presenter at ukulele festivals across North America and Europe.

He doesn’t envision himself ever giving up teaching the uke, be it to kids, adults, or other teachers.

But his return to Langley Ukulele Ensemble will admittedly be a short-term commitment – at least compared to his previous 32-year tenure with the association.

He expects he’ll only be working with the kids and ultimately help train a teacher who can take over intermediate students instruction for the next year or so.

While he started working with the group of 23 kids back in September, this weekend will be his first time back on stage – during the Themes of Christmas show Dec. 10 at the Chief Sepass Theatre.

The show will feature more than 60 ukulele students – of various levels of experience – performing everything from traditional Christmas carols and the Nutcracker Suite to an arrangement put together by Peter called Jesu Joy.

With intermissions, it’s an hour and 45 minute show, and Paolo jokes that he’s limiting his dad to just 12 minutes on stage with the intermediate students.

But in actuality, since Peter has always been involved with the show’s presentation of the 12 Days of Christmas, the senior family member will actually get closer to 25 minutes of stage time, and Paolo added with a chuckle that he hopes it doesn’t go to his head.

RELATED: Ukulele Ensemble baton passed from father to son

Peter is actually excited about the show and the chance to get the kids back performing for an audience.

“I’m excited that the kids are going to get a chance to share their music making again,” Peter said.

“During COVID, Langley ukulele continued to meet… we continue to meet with kids every week, whether it was online or in person. So the kids haven’t stopped making music, but they clearly missed being in front of audiences,” Peter explained, noting this is one of their few big shows since the worst of the pandemic.

The students did perform in Victoria earlier this year, as well as at a tattoo in Vernon during the summer. But public shows have still been fairly limited.

“It was obvious during that time that the students recognize how much they actually missed getting a chance to share their music,” said Peter.

“And the audiences responded with such joy to again be able to hear the kids play. It’s magical. I don’t know if it’s too strong a word to use, but I think it’s part of the healing from the last two years, just being able to see the freshness and the hope the children bring returning to entertain and perform for the community. And, I’m excited to be part of it.”

In addition to their hometown Christmas concert on Saturday, they performed last weekend for the Vancouver Police Department, will perform at a few seniors facilities in the coming weeks, will be on Global TV, and have three shows coming up at the PNE Winter Fair.

But, a lack of concerts in the past few years has meant a lack of fundraising opportunities, which meant the ensemble was unable to make its annual trip to Hawaii this past summer.

But planning is in the works for the senior ensemble to return to Hawaii next summer, and this concert and others coming up in the new year will go a long ways to making more travel possible again.

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Peter Luongo has returned to teaching ukulele to young children with Langley Ukulele Ensemble. He’s been teaching adults, in Canada and the U.S. primarily, for the past 10 years. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Peter Luongo has returned to teaching ukulele to young children with Langley Ukulele Ensemble. He’s been teaching adults, in Canada and the U.S. primarily, for the past 10 years. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

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