Salomé Ensemble Returns

The Salomé Chamber Orchestra was founded in 2009 by Lauren, Sean, and David Aaron Carpenter
Named for the woman who called for John the Baptist’s head, the headless (i.e., lacking a conductor) Salomé Chamber Orchestra will perform at Nova’s Ark in Bridgehampton and the Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton next weekend.

   After inaugurating a music festival here late last August, an outstanding new chamber music ensemble from New York City will stage the South Fork’s second Salomé Festival, with three very different events to close out the summer classical music season.
    The Salomé Chamber Orchestra was founded in 2009 by Lauren, Sean, and David Aaron Carpenter, siblings, two violinists and a violist. The ensemble will consist of five players, with David Aaron Carpenter as the featured soloist. The full roster of the orchestra numbers about 25, all of whom are postgraduates from Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Princeton University, and Yale University.
    The opening concert, on Friday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Castle Barn at Nova’s Ark Project in Bridgehampton, will focus on music inspired by nature, with works by Vivaldi, Paganini, Piazzola, and Schubert.
    Alexy Shor is the orchestra’s composer-in-residence. Last year he wrote several pieces for the group, which are “shorter, virtuosic, sentimental, and Eastern European-inspired,” Lauren Carpenter said recently. At this concert, several of his commissioned selections will also be heard.
    A concert of music of the Jewish diaspora will feature works by Gershwin, Kreisler, Mendelssohn, and Shor, to be held at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton on Aug. 24 at 8 p.m. In addition, klezmer selections by Ljova, a Russian film composer and violist, will be heard. The festival is offering this concert free to the public.
    A treat for families with children as well as Jacques Offenbach fans of all ages will be the one-act operetta “The Babysitter” on Aug. 25 at 3 p.m., also at Nova’s Ark. The opera company Divaria Productions has made a somewhat abridged, family-friendly version and translation of this comic opera, and this will be its premiere, with dialogue in English and arias sung in French.
    Salomé’s mission is to “present classical music as relevant to today’s younger generations, while at the same time joining with philanthropic organizations to directly help those in need via charity concerts and events.” According to a release, the ensemble raised over $500,000 last year through concerts for charities, and its partner organizations have included the FEED Projects, the Trevor Project, Camfed, Lighthouse for the Blind, Jewish Family Services, the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, the Overseas China Foundation, and Manhattan Jewish Experience.
    Both concerts at Nova’s Ark Project will benefit the Ark Project and Terra Nova Foundation. It is situated on a 95-acre preserve, with sculpture fields, galleries, performance spaces, and workshops, and was founded by the Romanian sculptor Nova Mihai Popa. For these two events, the sculpture gardens will be open to concert guests one hour before and after the performances.
    The Salomé Chamber Orchestra has performed with artists as varied as the singer-songwriters Rufus Wainwright, John Legend, and Natasha Bedingfield, the classical violinist Daniel Hope, the New York Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert, and the National Symphony Orchestra director Christoph Eschenbach.
    During the 2012-13 season, the orchestra presented four concerts as the artists in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, performing on violins and violas from the museum’s Sau-Wing Lam Collection of Rare Italian Stringed Instruments. Earlier this year they performed aboard the Hapag-Lloyd cruise ship MS Europa and in Munich, and toured in various venues in California.
    Now, the orchestra is also taking steps to encourage new talent. It has announced its first Young Artists Competition this fall, for string players 18 or under. The grand prize carries with it a cash award and a chance to perform with Salomé in 2014 on a historic instrument provided for the occasion by Carpenter Fine Violins. 
    And, yes, there is a connection in the Carpenter name. Lauren and Sean are the owners of Carpenter Fine Violins, a company that specializes in “selling and co-investing in fine musical instruments,” according to Ms. Carpenter.
    Incidentally, the orchestra’s name is something of a slightly dark in-joke. They play without a conductor, hence they have no head. Salomé is the Biblical figure who asked her father to behead John the Baptist.
    Tickets for both concerts at Nova’s Ark are $20, with children under 12 free on Aug. 25, and both will conclude with a post-concert reception. More information about the concerts, the orchestra, or the competition can be found at SaloméChamber.org.