Globe West | Arts

As a group, Newton’s Magic Flutes are the star

Kathy Winters
The Magic Flutes, a youth ensemble led by Deborah Charness (right), will perform with Cello Friends in Newton on Saturday.

Flute teacher Deborah Charness of Newton knows well how much young musicians benefit from playing in an ensemble. Over a decade ago, she, her husband, and their three children performed throughout the Boston area as the Charness Family Quintet, and Charness witnessed how the exposure and performance opportunities motivated her children to seek new challenges as musicians.

Now her children are adults, but Charness continues to deploy her talents as a leader of young musicians in her role as director of the Magic Flutes, an ensemble she created out of her cadre of middle school and high school students.

This weekend, the Magic Flutes will take the stage at the Waban Library Center in Newton. The 11 young flutists will join forces with Cello Friends, directed by Nancy Hair, and pianist Jennifer Baverstam in the benefit concert for the community nonprofit at 11 a.m. Saturday.


Though her students work hard in their individual lessons, performing as a group brings out something more in them, Charness has observed over the years.

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“Kids will give you 100 percent when they have a concert,’’ she said. “They know they’re going to dress up and play for the public. Performing with the Magic Flutes gives them the experience of performing for people they don’t know.’’

Though the ensemble has also performed over the past year at the Boston Cartoon Festival and even Symphony Hall, the Waban performance may be the most meaningful to them because it is closest to home: All its members, who are roughly between ages 10 and 15, live in Newton.

For Olivia Chebac, a ninth-grader at Newton South High School, performing as part of the Magic Flutes is a regular event: She is in her fifth year of lessons and ensemble work with Charness.

“What’s nice about our group is the specific focus on flute music,’’ she said. “A lot of the band music we play at school seems to be more focused on brass. I remember being in this group when I was younger and following the lead of the older kids; now I’m one of the older ones myself.’’


Maren Gunning, 13, agrees there is something special about performing in a flute choir.

“I love the way flutes sound, and our music is really interesting because you can make more harmonies than in a full orchestra and it sounds much better to me,’’ Gunning said.

In a bigger group, said 14-year-old Hailey Fuchs, “only one or two instruments seem to be showcased in each piece, and all the other performers just have to blend in. In the Magic Flutes, we all get our moment in the spotlight. For this performance, we’ll be playing Pachelbel’s ‘Canon,’ which will be beautiful, and ‘Stars and Stripes Forever,’ which is a difficult piece but will be a lot of fun.’’

The Magic Flutes and Cello Friends will perform at the Waban Library Center, 1608 Beacon St. in Newton, with a suggested donation of $5, or $10 per family. For more information, go to www.wabanlibrarycenter.org.

FOCUS ON SCENERY: “Landscape,’’ a collection of paintings by local artists Lewka Z. Cims, David Covert, Geri Duffy, and Mark Richards, is on exhibit this month in the Concord Art Association’s Members Gallery.


The artists will take part in an opening reception Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at 37 Lexington Road in Concord. Admission is free.

For gallery hours and more information, call 978-369-2578 or go to www.concordart.org.

SOUNDING BRASS: The Concord Band welcomes the award-winning Triton Brass Quintet to its winter concert Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center, 51 Walden St., Concord.

The quintet will perform “Five Concord Diversions’’ by James Curnow, commissioned by the Concord Band and premiered in 1987, and the “Concertino for Brass Quintet and Band’’ by John Cheetham.

In addition, the quintet’s Andrew Sorg will be featured on flugelhorn in an arrangement of the adagio movement from Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez,’’ arranged by Concord Band music director emeritus William G. McManus.

Tickets are $15, or $5 for students and seniors. For more information, call 978-897-9969 or go to www.concordband.org.

LOOKING WITHIN: Middlesex Community College hosts a screening of a documentary, “REVEALED: Portraits from Beneath One’s Surface,’’ followed by a discussion with photographer Scott Indermaur at 1:30 p.m. today in the Campus Center’s Café East, 591 Springs Road in Bedford.

For more information on the free showing, contact Tom Laughlin at 781-280-3839 or laughlint@middlesex.mass.edu.

MUSIC OF AFRICA: On Sunday at 3 p.m., the Weston Public Library, 87 School St., will host a program by the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society showcasing the music and dance of the Ewe people of West Africa.

Ghanaian master dancer and drummer Nani Agbeli will perform with the troupe, and explain to the audience the history and legacy of the movements.

The concert is free, but seating is limited. For more information, call 781-891-8972.

FUNNY LESSONS: Author Bill Scheft, longtime writer for the “Late Show with David Letterman,’’ will help unlock the secrets of writing monologue jokes at a workshop, “How to Write Comedy,’’ at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, 333 Nahanton St. in Newton.

Scheft, author of four books including “Everything Hurts,’’ will discuss how to write a topical joke and critique your own material, and provide a glimpse into the world of show business.

Tickets are $8, and can be purchased at www.bostonjcc.org/artsevents, or by calling 617-965-5226 or 866-811-4111.

Send ideas for the Arts column to westarts@globe.com.