Laguna Flutes began performing in Fall 2013 under the direction of Cynthia Ellis. This group has been part of the musical community of Southern California, affiliated with the Laguna Beach Concert Band for many years prior to her leadership as well as with Orange County Music and Dance during their history.
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Seating in Flute Choir: How we set up

It’s taken me a few years to finally settle in on a seating plan that maximizes the sound of Laguna Flutes. Currently, we use a three row set up, as our enrollment settles in at about 18-23 players each session. I  usually run two sessions per year.  Fall session begins in early October, working toward Christmas concerts. Spring session begins about 10-12 weeks prior to our spring concerts. Each session includes 2 performances at different venues.

If we work towards a large goal of NFA convention, for example,  then I’ll run two additional sessions; one to prepare for recording dates for acceptance,  and the second session with a concert right before we leave for the convention itself.

I prefer a seating plan that favors a balanced sound, which ultimately requires favoring to the low flute sections. Additionally, I enjoy the ‘orchestral’ seating of principal first flute front row, left (like a concertmaster)…principal second flute immediately to her left, then the two first alto flute players. Rounding out the first row are 2 bass flutists. This way, you have all four principal voices in the front row, with lower voices to the right, just like the cello and bass sections in an orchestra which are seated on  the right side of the orchestra.

Our second row begins with the solo piccolo chair, then one additional first flute, one additional second flute and second alto flutes. Our Contrabass flute section (two players) complete the second row, and I ask them to move as far forward as possible to create good sonic contact with the 2 bass flute players.

Our third row  consists of additional second, third, and fourth C flutists. I try to seat stronger players on a part next to less experienced players to provide leadership and security. I always ask that my group sit as close together, front to back and side to side as possible so that they can hear across the group and experience the full depth of sound front to back. They are always surprised how much better they can hear each other by coming a little closer together!

One of the most consistent compliments I receive about our group is that it is well balanced and you can hear inner voices. I believe this seating plan provides an excellent  portal to a full spectrum of tonal possibilities in today’s flute ensemble. The photo below shows a good idea of our concert seating.

Let’s take a quick look back to our December events in 2023

We presented a concert at First Presbyterian Church of Fullerton entitled Joyful Noel, along with the Kirk Handbell Choir under the direction of Lynette McGee on December 12th. Our repertory included sacred and secular tunes of the season, along with a joint rendition of Angels from the Realms of Glory for flute ensemble and handbell choir. Joy to the World was performed along with Lynette on the organ and included the audience in a sing along. I think the group’s favorite piece was Valarie Coleman’s arrangement of Jingle Bells. It’s rhythmically challenging and jazzy. I am so proud of how far the ensemble has come on this piece! We also performed  Gesu Bambino, arranged by former member Bill Cleveland, as well as Silent Night and The Christmas Banquet: A Renaissance Collection, among others.



One week later, on December 19th, we presented a concert in the lobby of the Henry and Renee Segerstrom Concert Hall prior to Pacific Symphony’s Holiday Organ Spectacular concert. Here is the text from the website advertising our part of the concert.

Come Early! The Laguna Flutes will be performing a pre-concert show of holiday favorites in the lobby from 6:45-7:20 p.m.

I think this is one of our favorite places to play. It’s hard to describe how the sound fills this lobby space, which is at least 3 stories high…it is just beautiful.  Having the audience all around us, at all the different levels, is a magnificent feeling. This is an annual tradition for Laguna Flutes and we appreciate being invited to perform!

I always laugh at the Facebook posts that pop up about now, proudly proclaiming  “46 more weeks until Christmas”. Yes, indeed the year will go by quickly and I’ll be looking for more cool arrangements for December 2024. Programming holiday music is always fun for me. We start preparing in October for our December performances, matching the appearance of all things holiday that pop up in the stores at the same time (Merry Halloween-Mas anyone)? I strive to balance the standard tunes with less expected but festive melodies. I’m always tailoring our music to the players that I have on hand, and this year, the low flutes were truly stellar! I’m excited to see what the holidays in 2024 will  bring for Laguna Flutes. If you are curious about our group, reach out! Join us.

Re-Boot for Laguna Flutes – August 23, 2021

As I sit here writing to you, I am FINALLY realizing that all the waiting and wondering is nearly over. We are just about ready to start back as a musical ensemble.


The insurance company has been contacted and we have liability insurance…Our new church home has been unbelievably gracious about facility usage…I have the key! I am working on website updates. We have a vaccine policy that will shadow the requirements of professional orchestras (Thank you Pacific Symphony for all the work to keep us safe on stage and allowing me to piggy back from your work with UCI public health department). Music is being pulled. New Christmas music has arrived. I’m listening to brand new pieces from the NFA convention. I am SO happy I made those Excel sheets of library inventory last year: It’s easier than ever to locate music now as I know exactly where it is. I’m making folders for sight reading. We are hosting zoom workshops to anticipate our return to live rehearsal.


These are the ‘nuts and bolts’ of our re-boot: All the necessary things to run an ensemble are re-emerging from the pause of 2020.


What REALLY excites me the most however, is the concept that my musicians are COMING TOGETHER to make live music for the first time in 18 months. There is a powerful need to express ourselves through music and I can’t believe how lucky and blessed I am to facilitate this group of flutists.


For the first time ever, we will host THREE GENERATIONS OF FLUTISTS FROM THE SAME FAMILY. How about that? New friends are joining…we bid a fond farewell to some old friends who have moved away. We await the return of some members as they build their confidence returning to the musical world. Decisions are personal….


It’s going to be an emotional experience for me. It might sound raw…who cares! It’s going to be magical and it’s going to be very special. We will connect in a very powerful way….We will be making music TOGETHER. What could be better?

An unusual year

What an unusual year it has been musically! For Laguna Flutes, we have postponed all of our spring events due to the unprecedented Covid-19 situation. The NFA convention has been canceled this year….but we are super excited to perform in Washington, DC, next year for the annual convention. 

I’ve tried to maintain contact with our group by having zoom ‘Flutey-Hours’ just to get together and chat…sort of like Happy Hour but we talk about all things flute. AND…just finished a massive project of sorting, alphabetizing, and cataloging the music library…all 300 titles…and made an Excel spreadsheet to make music searches a breeze and bring them into the 21st century!
I’m hopeful that we will be making music together later in the summer together. Stay tuned….

February updates

It’s February and already we’re sensing what our spring concert will sound like! I’m so excited by the progress I’ve heard from our first rehearsal to our second. What makes an ensemble great? Each member has to decide that their musical contributions are equally important…playing first or third is EQUALLY IMPORTANT! Playing a lower numbered part has different demands…but everyone in chamber music has solos and everybody has to prepare ahead of rehearsals. Come with all notes/rhythms LEARNED and then the magic of good ensemble work can happen in rehearsal. See you all next month! Alto flutes: We could use a few more of you so if you know friends interested in joining the group now is the time to bring them on board. Registration closes March 24.

Sight-reading and more

Sight-reading was fun last night! We are building our program around a theme of folk songs and nature…and we have picked out 4 works so far…There is one work that is not ‘on theme’ but has some fun tie-ins. So how do I choose music for the group? First of all, I always ask players if they like the music…life is too short to play music you dislike.  Secondly…is it at the group’s ability level? Can the group sound good after working on the technical demands? Will it be audience engaging…can I give them something to listen for that will enhance their concert experience? These are all the questions I ask when I build a program… all the while assessing the group’s level. 

We are always looking for new members at the start of a session…next rehearsal will be February 17 (it’s a holiday…easy traffic). Come join us! You have plenty of time before our May concerts. Recruitment is welcome! Ask your flute playing friends. 

Musically yours, 

Cindy Ellis

Happy New Year and Welcome to Laguna Flutes’ website!

Happy New Year and Welcome to Laguna Flutes’ website!
It is my hope that you will enjoy coming here to learn about our group and join us if so inclined. We have included a few recordings on our ‘listen’ page and of course, standard photos and bios of our group along with concert announcements for the 2020 season. Use the ‘contact us’ page if you seek more information about joining us.
If you are already a member of Laguna Flutes, our special ‘members only’ page (accessible by private log in password) will give you all the tools you need to be successful. Our rehearsal location, rehearsal schedule and most importantly, Dropbox link are all here for you. Of course, you can still access the Dropbox directly as always but my hope is the website will become your  ‘one-stop’ location online.
Our first rehearsal on January 27th will be a reading rehearsal. After that day, part assignments will be made and you will need to download your music and print as always, ready for the rehearsal on February 17th.
It’s a new year and a new look for Laguna Flutes! Welcome!
Musically yours
PS: Check back with this blog site soon for interesting information about programming and how I choose music for the group!