Ukulele Ensemble plucked for plum gig

The audience represents a roll call of royalty, the nobility, heads of states, diplomats, and the creme de la creme of the sporting world.

And the Langley Ukulele Ensemble will be playing exclusively for them.

The audience will be members of the International Olympic Committee who will be entertained at a gala on Tuesday, Feb. 9, four days before the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Sure to be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for the gala is Belgian orthopaedic surgeon Jacques Rogge, the president of the IOC.

Members of the IOC include Henry Kissinger, the German-born Nobel peace prize winner who was the U.S. Secretary of State during the Nixon administration; Princess Anne, an Olympic medalist in horse riding; Prince Albert of Monaco, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark; Princess Haya Al Hussein, an Olympic show jumper and daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan; Kenyan track sensation of the 1960s Kipchoge Keino; French skiing whiz Jean-Claud Killy, and Canadian lawyer, Dick Pound, a former vice-president of the IOC.

The invitation to play came out of the blue.

“The call came in on a Tuesday evening during rehearsal,” said Langley Ukulele Ensemble director Peter Luongo. As he repeated snippets of the conversation, the eyes of his young musicians “got bigger and bigger.”

Its the kind of exposure money can’t buy, as the concert will be beamed by satellite around the world, Luongo said, adding that the ensemble will perform right after an address by Rogge.

“The prospect of being seen and heard on the world stage . . . we are in awe,” said Luongo, who has led the ensemble since 1980.

“They could have picked anyone.”

The ensemble has played at music conferences at a growing number of international venues, and every year the ensemble spends two weeks in Hawaii, entertaining and teaching the four-stringed instrument.

Luongo will take 15 members of the senior ensemble to perform at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Then it will be back to rehearsals for the group’s May 1 concert at Christian Life Assembly.