Nature Nurtures Notes

Kristin Bonelli

Courtesy Photo
The Chameleon Arts Ensemble.

Family concert at Forest Hills Cemetery June 3

Violins, cellos, flutes and… bugs? Chamber music will come alive when The Chameleon Arts Ensemble performs a special family concert on Sun., June 3 at 2 p.m. in the Forsyth Chapel, located at historic Forest Hills Cemetery.

The concert will provide listeners with a taste of various landscapes and climates, taking them on a musical journey that will recall lush rainforests, frantic mosquitoes and the excitement of a child’s first forays into backyard exploration.

Immediately following the performance, concert attendees will be encouraged to continue their musical experience by taking part in an instrument “petting zoo” where families can take a closer look at the instruments and ask questions of the musicians.

The concert will be part of Boston’s annual Birds and Bards Festival, a three-day event featuring a variety of programs celebrating the gift of arts and nature found in our communities.

Deborah Boldin, artistic director and musician, founded the Chameleon Arts Ensemble in 1998 as a way to bring a small group of musicians together to explore music from wildly different time periods and styles, performing well-known contemporary pieces alongside the ancient and obscure.

The Chameleons have a special relationship with the Jamaica Plain community. Boldin, a JP resident, is proud of the three-year strong collaboration between the musicians and the city, specifically its ties to JP elementary schools.

Musician and educator Hans Spencer, who will serve as narrator for the June 3 performance, says that the Chameleons strive to “connect their music to students’ daily lives” and open students’ ears and eyes to the sentiments expressed by these instruments. Spencer will debut a new piece composed specifically for this celebration of outdoor play, with movements entitled “Climbing Trees” and “Digging in the Dirt for Bugs.”

The Chameleons work with Young Achievers and Haley Elementary Schools, presenting private concert performances, teachers’ guides, and activities designed to better connect the students with the instruments.

The Chameleons’ illuminating family and school programs are attractive to “big kids” as well, with their diverse June 3 program featuring works by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, Chinese composer Zhou Long and Latin composer Julio Medaglia, among others.

Forest Hills Cemetery, which Boldin calls “a hidden treasure,” is a familiar setting for the Chameleons and for music lovers throughout Boston. The fantastic acoustics and sense of intimacy is ideal for hearing The Chameleons, providing a special connection among the musicians, audience and composers.

Tickets for the June 3 family concert and the musical instrument “petting zoo” can be purchased by emailing [email protected] or by calling 524-3354. Tickets are $10 for adults/$8 for members and free for all children, ages six and older. The cemetery is located at 95 Forest Hills Ave—a five minute walk from the Forest Hills T station, on the Orange Line, via Tower Street. Parking is available. For detailed directions and further information on the Chameleon Arts Ensemble and the complete Birds and Bards Festival line-up, visit

The writer is on the staff of Forest Hills Educational Trust.

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