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Langley uke concert brings old and young musicians together

Youngest player is 11, oldest is 77, and dozens in between taking part in '5 Generations of Ukulele' concert June 22

There’s a few years between them. 
In fact, there’s a few (make that many) decades separating Bill Horn and Emma Tian.
In truth, there’s not a lot of common ground for the Grade 5er from Maple Ridge and the retiree from Los Angeles County.
But what does unite these two complete strangers is their love of the ukulele, and their excitement to play together for the first time in a special concert later this month in Langley.
They’re both taking part in “5 Generations of Ukulele,” a fundraising concert being hosted by the Langley Ukulele Association on Friday, June 21, at 7 p.m. in the Willoughby Christian Reformed Church on 72 Avenue.
As the name alludes to, this is about presenting a cross-section of music spanning five generations, and also a show bringing musicians from the past five generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Gen Z, and Generation Alpha) to play together.
“I look forward to the concert because there’s a giant group of people, and it’s kind of cool to be performing with someone way, way older than me,” Tian said of Horn, 77 and the other older players (members of the Legacy Ukulele Ensemble) stopping hear on a North American tour.
Turns out these two players, the youngest and oldest expected to play in next week’s concert, have something else in common.
Specifically, the link is Peter Luongo. He leads  the U.S.-based Legacy adult group, of which Horn is a member, and Luongo is also the founder and still one of the directors of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble (LUE), of which Tian is a member.
“My Legacy ensemble is doing a Pacific Northwest tour and they will participate in the June 21 event with the Langley kids,” Luongo noted.
This concert, he elaborated, will celebration “International Make Music Day,” but it’s also another fundraising effort to help fundraise for the Langley ensemble's upcoming trip to perform at the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival in September.
“This means that we will have Boomers to Gen Alpha players on stage, all celebrating the joy of making music!” he said.
Tian, representing the younger players, is 11 years old and been playing the uke for four years. She also has been playing the piano for five years, and the violin for three.
“I started playing [the uke] because my sisters went to ukulele summer camp, and I wanted to try it out,” Tian told the Langley Advance Times.
What’s kept her engaged is the chance to perform publicly, to travel, and to make what she called some great friends.
Since the playlist for this upcoming show will also span five generations, Horn and Tian were each asked what their favourite song is to play. 
For Tian, it’s “Surfin’ U.S.A., because there are actions we get to do, and that makes it more fun.”
For Horn, picking just one song was difficult. 
In the running is Doobie Brothers’ “Listen To the Music,” because it has what he described as a “happy, lively beat and great lyrics.”
But ultimately, he said his fave is Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle.”
“It tells a story of love, the collecting of memories to spend when time allows, and it is [his wife] Elaine’s favourite, as well.”
She too plays, and they often gather with friends to entertain seniors at assisted living facilities in California.
Like young Tian, Horn plays multiple instruments. He played guitar during his teens, played in a few bands during his 20s and 30s, and even took up the bass and some minor keyboard work. 
But it wasn’t until around the turn of the century, when he and Elaine were on vacation in Maui, that they decided to take an impromptu beginner’s uke class. 
They enjoyed it and had great plans to continue their learning back home.
“Life and other things kind of got in the way of that goal and in the closet [a new Mele uke] went. In 2013 I found out a coworker played ukulele and we got together… that began the true beginning of my ukulele journey and being inflicted with UAS (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome),” he added with a chuckle.
Now, both Tian and Horn are part of a Peter Luongo-driven ukulele ensemble, and they’re looking forward to coming together to share their love of the instrument and music with each other and the audience expected to pack the church for the Generations concert.
“I’ll be with my fellow players of the Legacy ensemble, all awesome people whom have my utmost respect. I also am looking forward to meeting the Langley players again, a fine group of young people,” said Horn.
“This concert is special in that five generations of ukulele players will be meeting in concert style and will show the versatility and demonstrate the joy of playing this little but grand instrument.”
Tickets are $10 and available at the door, or at

Roxanne Hooper

About the Author: Roxanne Hooper

I began in the news industry at age 15, but honestly, I knew I wanted to be a community journalist even before that.
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