New Husband, New Music Fest

They are determined to reinvent the way classical music is presented
The Salomé Chamber Orchestra will feature a variety of musical genres in a variety of venues, beginning with Guild Hall on Aug. 26.

   A new festival offering classical music along with pop, opera, and Broadway is coming to the South Fork before the season ends. From Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, six concerts featuring the Salomé Chamber Orchestra are scheduled to take place in various venues.
    The featured soloists will be David Aaron Carpenter, a rising-star violist and one of the founders of the orchestra; the Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, and the Swiss operatic soprano Amanda Bollag.
    The connection between the orchestra and Mr. Wainwright is new. They will have performed for his wedding just a few days before in Montauk. In March, a video announcement was sent out saying he was to marry his fiancé, the singer and theater producer Jorn Weisbrodt, on Aug. 23. Mr. Wainwright has a house in Montauk and has referred to the hamlet as his “spiritual home.”
    David Aaron Carpenter has said, “He loves Salomé and asked if we could be there for his big day. It’s an honor. And instead of going on an immediate honeymoon he’s playing at our gala — his first concert as a married man!”
    Mr. Carpenter founded the orchestra in New York City in 2009 with his brother, Sean Avram Carpenter, and sister, Lauren Sarah Carpenter, both of whom are violinists. All three are natives of Long Island. It is made up mostly of graduates of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Julliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, Princeton University, and Yale University. Some of their appearances have included Steinway Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and NPR’s “Performance Today.”
    The group performs without a conductor, and of its 22 regular members, 14 will appear at the festival.
    Ms. Carpenter said recently that they want to make the concerts “accessible overall and not esoteric.” While it is not too surprising that they “are determined to reinvent the way classical music is presented,” they don’t prefer to do “crossover” music. Rather than mixing styles within one piece of music, they are more likely to do a pure classical piece next to pure pop or Broadway.
    The group collaborates with nonprofit organizations, as spelled out in its blog: “Classical music used as a mechanism and platform for our partner organizations allows us to project the powerful effect of music to raise money and awareness for their incredible work. It also allows us to fulfill our other mission as classical music evangelists, as we reach new, untapped audiences that have yet to experience the beauty of our craft.”
    Their first concert here embodies both of these goals. On Aug. 26, a Sunday, their performance, at Guild Hall, will benefit the Trevor Project, a national organization that “provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.” The soloists are Mr. Carpenter on viola and Mr. Wainwright, and the music will include “The Four Seasons” of both Vivaldi and Piazzolla, and Mr. Wainwright’s “Going to a Town.”
    “Rufus, for us, represents the pinnacle of artistry, as his talents transcend any type of musical categorization; he is as well versed in writing and performing classical music as he is with pop music,” said Ms. Carpenter.
    Next, “Opera en Plain Air,” on Aug. 27 at the South Fork Museum of Natural History in Bridgehampton, will feature a one-act opera by Pergolesi. Ms. Carpenter described the opera, “La Serva Padrona,” as family-friendly, a blend of Charlie Chaplin-esque comedy. The free concert will have dialogue in English and the arias in the original Italian.
    At the Nova’s Ark Project in Water Mill, on Aug. 30, there will be a tour of the sculpture park followed by a concert of “music inspired by nature” in the “castle barn,” with “The Swan” by Saint-Saens, “Autumn Leaves” by Kosma and Prevert, and “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess.” That performance will benefit the Terra Nova Foundation, “an independent think tank which promotes progressive ideas and innovative political solutions in France and Europe.”
    Mr. Carpenter will be the featured viola soloist for the Virtuosity Concert on Aug. 31 at the Southampton Cultural Center, with showpieces that include movements from Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings, Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence,” and Paganini’s “Carnival of Venice.”
    Another free event will be the Concert Under the Stars on Sept. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Agawam Park in Southampton, with classical, operatic, and Broadway favorites. Ms. Bollag and Mr. Carpenter will be the soloists.
    The Jewish Center of the Hamptons will host Music of the Jewish Diaspora on Sept. 2. Also without an admission charge, this event will highlight medleys from “The Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof” among other selections.
    Although there is no question about the seriousness of the orchestra’s intent or the level of their artistry, the name of the Salomé Chamber Orchestra is something of an in-joke with a slightly dark twist. They play without a conductor, hence they have no head — Salomé, of course, is the Biblical figure who asked her father to behead John the Baptist.
    The Salomé Music Festival hopes to “fill the void” left by the absence of the highly regarded Music Festival of the Hamptons since the death of its founder, Eleanor Leonard, last year. The Carpenters are friendly with Lutz Rath, a cellist, who worked closely with Ms. Leonard on the festival, and, said Ms. Carpenter, “he offered his blessing in inaugurating our festival.”
    Tickets for the events that aren’t free range from $15 for general admission ($10 for students) to $500 for platinum seating for the opening night benefit. More information is at salomechamber.org/concerts  or 516-353-3927.