Monday, August 24, 2009

A Little Sheltered Night Music

I’ve been watching the new USA character series, Royal Pains. It’s a piece of fluff about a New York City doctor transplanted to the Hamptons, but what I like about it is how it captures SUMMER. I don’t have a summer house so I daydream a bit in that hour, and try to soak up the colors and texture of the series.

This weekend the daydream took actual form when I visited a family friend on Shelter Island, the “other” NY summer community off of the North Folk of the East End of Long Island.

Shelter Island. For many tv fans the allusion resonates with, “No exes at weddings,” the great wisdom from How I Met Your Mother and Stella’s dream wedding on Shelter Island. Ted and Stella do not get married, and so she is not “the one,” but it is notable for tv to be so site specific, and that the friends make the drive from the city, and get on the ferry (screen grab here!), to Shelter.

The real trek is very scenic, driving out to Greenport, past the Long Island wineries to the ferry service. Then the short ride over to the island, putting me on the water, reminding me of my schooner days, something I don’t revisit very often.

Shelter Island is hilly and dense and lush. It is rural, with less of a defined central town than its South Folk cousins, and no high-end stores.

And it is the home of The Perlman Music Program, an important summer school for young musicians on the grounds of an old 28-acre resort. It was founded by Toby Perlman, Ithak’s wife, fifteen years ago to give musicians 18 to 30 a supportive, focused environment to development their talent. Itzak is oncampus for the school, along with a stellar group of professionals.

The final student performances are a free gift to the island. This week was the Chamber Music Workshop, an intensive program devoted to that repertoire. The concert featured three different quartets performing three eras of music: Beethoven String Quartet in F major; Ravel also in F major; and Dvorak Piano Quartet in E flat.

The caliber of playing was extraordinary in artists so young from around the world, and the programming was inspired. Beethoven, the epitome of classical in that measured, perfect sense. Ravel, impressionistic Ravel, so French, with complicated meter, such deeply emotional sounds. Written in 1903, it seemed to have influenced many 1940s movie scores. Then the big finish with Dvorak: deeply melodic, echoes of gypsy folksongs, a twist of a waltz, a lovely interplay between the viola, the violin, and the cello, with a cello solo in the second movement that was so melodic you could almost hear words in the deep timbre of the cello sound.

The whole Perlman Music Program operation is beautifully professional. And it’s thrilling to think that these budding musicians are keeping this music form alive as part of their hazy, crazy, daze of summer.

The logo motif of the school is done by another type of artist, a man named Peter Dov Varga who can cut ordinary black construction paper in the most extraordinary ways. I saw his work at a fair on the island, but they were all so amazing I couldn’t chose. He is Peter the Paper Cutter.

This week I go back to daydreaming with Royal Pains, until the real thing comes along. And the "no exes at weddings,"that's just good sense.