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'Sexy' Classical Music Group Helps Synagogue Reach Out to Young Members

By Emily Frost | June 6, 2012 9:43am
The chamber orchestra Salomé will give a benefit concert at Shearith Israel on Wednesday, June 6, 2012.
The chamber orchestra Salomé will give a benefit concert at Shearith Israel on Wednesday, June 6, 2012.
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Salomé, 2012

UPPER WEST SIDE — The oldest Jewish congregation in the country is reaching out to the next generation of believers.

Congregation Shearith Israel at Central Park West and 70th Street is hosting a benefit concert Wednesday night featuring the chamber orchestra Salomé, a hip young orchestra with a mission of making classical music appealing to the pop music set.

“[Classical music] is a cool and sexy thing to listen to and enjoy,” said Lauren Carpenter, one of three siblings in the 20-member group, most of whom are in their 20s.

The Carpenter siblings, David, 26, Lauren, 27, and Sean, 31 founded Salome in 2009. The trio are members of Shearith Israel and live in an adjoining townhouse. 

The orchestra is backing the bid by the congregation to boost the number of young Jewish members.

“Our congregation is really family-oriented,” said Alana Shultz, the congregation's program director. She added that proceeds from the event will go toward 40 New York-based Jewish organizations that are either led by or committed to young people.

To appeal to younger generations, Salomé pairs up with celebrities like Lauren Bush and Rufus Wainwright to produce benefit concerts, in hopes that such star power will attract new audiences to classical music. They're also playful; the orchestra’s group photos play off of the ads for HBO hit vampire series "True Blood" and feature the slogan, “Classical Music with a Bite.” And in keeping with their independent streak, Salomé is a conductor-less ensemble.

“Without having someone waive a baton, you use your eyes and ears much more.  Everyone in the orchestra has to be involved,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter said they’ll keep the concert short, about an hour long, and fun.

Shultz said there are seats still available. Half of each ticket purchase can be directed to one of the participating organizations. “We’re envisioning the evening as a kind of homecoming for the young Jewish community,” said Shultz.

General admission tickets cost $36 in advance and are available at charity fundraising website indiegogo. Tickets are also available at the door for $45.