Vansuch to lead Chenex benefit
By Linda Pinkow
The Belmont Citizen Herald
Nina Vansuch will sing to support the program she directs at the Chenery Middle School.
PHOTO BY DAVID CARASNina Vansuch, with band members Will McMillan (left), Michael Ricca and Brian Patton, will perform a benefit concert for the Chenery Extended Program next week.
The director of the Chenery Extended Program (Chenex) will perform a benefit cabaret revue with her group, Nina Vansuch & Co., on May 12.
The performance is a fund-raiser for Chenex, which currently has more than 90 students enrolled.
"The program has been self-supporting since it started. It had no seed money from anyone -- town, school, state, anything," said Vansuch.
"We always pay our bills," she explained. "It's just that we don't have the extras."
Operating funds for Chenex come from tuition. A portion of revenues are used for a modest scholarship program for needy families, but Vansuch sees unmet needs.
"Our goal is to have the program be financially stable enough so that we can offer financial assistance," she said. "We have seen that there are many, many more families in this community that are in need of [scholarships to the program]. There are many children who are at risk, who we are not able to address."
Chenex, which started in 1997, is "the only town-wide program that deals with middle school kids," she said. It offers a wide variety of classes, from arts and computers to sports and games. The students also do community service projects.
Vansuch, a Belmont resident, has also been the Director of the Burbank After School Program since 1989. A member of the board of the Kendall Center for the Arts, she did a benefit for the Kendall artists in May 1999 which drew about 500 people.
Since then, her musical career has "taken off," she said. Her group gave a sold-out performance at Sculler's jazz club in Boston last fall, and continues to perform to critical acclaim.
The revue will celebrate movie music from the 1950s and 60s, including old favorites by Burt Bachrach, Henry Mancini, Lennon and McCartney and others.
"It's a little bit different, it's a little bit quirky," she said.
For Vansuch, donating a musical performance is just another way to contribute to an educational program she believes in, and she doesn't mind the extra work.
She said, "I'm an artist who lives in this community. I want wonderful things for this community. But people have to get off their rumps a little bit."
"At the Movies" will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 12 in the Chenery Middle School auditorium. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for children. To order tickets, call (617) 484-8030.