Thursday, December 11, 2008

Music of the night

Looking north towards The Empire State Building through the trees in Madison Square Park. 9:45 PM. Photo: JH.
12/11. Yesterday in New York: grey, the kind that usually precedes snow except the temperatures was in the low 60s. So, afternoon the rains came.

The tables down at Michael’s were buzzing away. Joe Armstrong, the mayor of Michael’s was holding for with Cynthia Brill, Maureen White and Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal. Right next door was Frank Gifford and director Ron Kanecke; next to them: Stan Shuman and guest, and beyond moving around the room: Joan Gelman; Mike Ovitz; John Hart; Peter Price; the boys for all seasons: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer, Andy Bergman, Jeff Greenfield; Debbie Bancroft with Anne Hearst and Lori Derning.

Curious eyes across the room were stealing glances at the table of Anna Wintour and Ralph Lauren. Diane Clehane of Mediabistro, lunching with Gerry Byrne of Nielsen Business Media had her eye on the fashion titans’ table and reported that the two were “deep in conversation,” and that they looked “downright anguished.” Was it the chef’s Soup of the Day? Was it Ms. Wintour’s job at Vogue that was the conversation. No, according to Conde Nast/Advanced Publication’s Si Newhouse who calls the shots and has been record for saying Anna stays. Was it RL talking about business slowing down. Probably none of the above.

Onward: Debbie Grubman of Corcoran Realty was lunching with Hollywood’s Mike Medavoy; Henry Schlieff was with Michael Fuchs; Patrica Watt was with Sharon Bush; Chris Meigher of Quest was with his beautiful wife Grace (the Face) and Tom Fallon. In the bay Jerry Inzerillo holding forth with Paul Grucci sans fireworks. Also around and about, the New Man at Meet the Press starting next Sunday, the very tall (must be 6’5”) David Gregory; Mort Hamburg (Joan’s boy) and Elkan Abramowitz; Peggy Siegal with Marian Koltal-Levine. Peggy’s winging off to Belgium over the holidays for some hip surgery so she can walk the walk better. Around the room some more: Micky Ateyeh and Jeffrey Banks; Bob Barnett; David Poltrack; Rob Weisbach; William Morris’ Jim Wiatt, Cass Canfield; Fredi Friedman with this reporter; and lots more just like ‘em.
The view from virtuoso Joshua Bell's rooktop terrace.
Last night in New York Kipton Cronkite and his KiptonArt Salon hosted a private concert by the great violinist virtuoso Joshua Bell at Mr. Bell’s recently completed apartment downtown before a rapt audience of 140 guests including Renee Fleming, George Soros, Phil Ramone, Glenn Close, Lyn Paulsin and Adam Weinberg.

There was a champagne reception at 8 o’clock in a large space that was set up with chairs and separated into two rooms by a curtain. Mr. Bell, who is now considered the greatest violinist of his age (he turned 41 on Tuesday), told his audience that it was his dream when he worked on the building of the apartment (designed by architect Charles Rose, who was present last night) that he would be able to hold musical salons in the fashion that was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe. He pointed out that a great many classical pieces were composed for such settings as opposed to concert halls.
Joshua Bell performing last night on his 1713 Stradivarius at his home.
Musical salons are also an objective of Cronkite’s KiptonArt which is in the business of developing interest and promoting emerging artists, musicians and photographers with a variety of programs and exhibitions.

A concert of classical music does not seem like a popular pursuit away from the halls of Carnegie, Avery Fisher, the Metropolitan Opera House, etc. But it is. The evening was over-subscribed. They originally planned on on 80 guests and almost twice as many attended.

After the champagne hour, guests took their seats in the long room facing the curtain. Kipton Cronkite gave a brief introduction about the evening and violinist, and then the curtains parted to reveal a small library with a grand piano (played by the violinist’s friend and recital partner Simon Mulligan) and the violinist dressed casually for the occasion.
The scene at Joshua's apartment before the curtains parted to reveal the violinist and his accompanist.
Mr. Bell then spoke briefly about what he was going to play (the first piece being a “gypsy” song by Maurice Ravel). He told us how when he introduced the music, how taking into consideration that many of the guests might be unfamiliar with classical music, that someone had advised, that he play pieces that were fast. The Ravel was followed by Jules Massenet’s famous standard, the beautiful “Meditation” from Thais. The concert which ran for about forty minutes including Mr. Bell’s commentary on the pieces, ended with “Maria” and “Tonight” from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” It was a thrill. A great thrill to hear this brilliant musician playing his 1713 Stradivarius before a group in such an intimate atmosphere. Guests were transported far from the workaday New York onto a higher plane of human endeavor and creativity.

Joshua Bell looks like the milk-fed boy from Bloomington, Indiana that he is. The son of educators --a psychologist and therapist – his parents noticed that the boy about age four would place rubber bands on drawer handles and pick out melodies that he’d heard his mother play on the piano. They decided to get him a small violin and give him lessons to satisfy his obvious interest. He later recalled that once he’d begun to play he knew he would be a musician when he grew up. As luck would have it, he was taken under the wing of a teacher who inspired him and at age eighteen he made his debut at Carnegie Hall.
Glenn Close Zev Eisenberg and Jennifer Bell Jane Courer and Jim Brosseau
George Soros and David Shaw Jennie Engstroem and Candice Hines
Catherine Saxton Lyn Paulsin and Errol Rudman Adam Weinberg and Kipton Cronkite
Pam Moore, Charles Rose, and Juliana Cusack Michelle Edgar and Alan Pepe
Lawrence Robins, Phil Ramone, and Deborah Fenker with friends Joshua Bell
Kipton and DPC Bernd Beetz and Renee Fleming Justin Baer
Barbara and Robert Wuhl with Lyn Paulsin Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebel
Kipton Cronkite, who hails from Oklahoma is the kind of New Yorker who makes this the global city that it is. He has been on the scene in New York for a few short years now. Readers of the NYSD have seen him and read his name here. Daytimes he’s in the banking business but nighttimes he’s industriously involved in the business of music and art through his KiptonArt projects.

A few months ago he held another one of these special concerts for a group of his subscribers with Lang Lang, the great Chinese piano virtuoso. What he is accomplishing – which is what all of the leading music institutions in New York are daily attempting to do, is to bring the classics to a new and much younger audience. What might seem a task ultimately isn’t when you consider that men like Joshua Bell are following his lead and lending themselves to the idea.

The story of Mr. Bell’s Stradivarius is a a fascinating and complex tale. You can read about it here on his web site:

You can learn more about KiptonArt by visiting:

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