Thursday, July 23, 2009

KiptonART Foundation & Carnegie Hall Notables presents Cellist Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir at Norwood Club


After a six-month breathing spell, KiptonART returned to social grace last evening with an intimate concert soiree at Norwood Club, alongside the Carnegie Hall Notables. Kipton Cronkite discovered Thorsteinsdottir through the Notables, a petite, albeit esteemed patrons circle for the 20-to-30 set. After two triumphant salon events in December and January for Oscar-winning violinist Joshua Bell and opera diva Joyce DiDonato, Cronkite, try to form, produced yet another beguiling evening of classical music with a fresh and modern edge. Only this time, the milieu felt more informal than usual--the sprawling apartment filled with high-wattage names like Glenn Close and George Soros was traded for a clubby, Mayfair-esque living room open solely to close friends and limited press. Everyone trudged in after the workday, seeking asylum from the summer rain, then proceeded to beach out on the sofa, imbibe champagne, and commune with the music.

Since Norwood opened its doors two years ago, the 1847 mansion has attracted a talented patronage of screen actors, fashion folk, and shaggy-haired artistes. "The intimate townhouse setting was the perfect backdrop for this event," said Cronkite. "When you're trying to engage young taste makers in something as highbrow as cello music, a VIP club--which, actually, feels more like the home of a very cool, Anglophile friend--is just the right come-on." In fact, supply and demand were particularly inelastic last night--several would-be guests were wait listed. Upon arrival, Cronkite's habitués were whisked up to the fourth-floor screening room and plied with cocktails and affable company before the focus turned to Thorsteinsdottir. Tatiana Boncompagni, society headliner and blithe author of this season's ultimate beach read Hedge Fund Wives, trotted in with husband Max Hoover followed by Justin Rockefeller and his lovely wife Indré. Justin, a self-professed cello fan, held court in the front row of the theater.

After exchanging bons mots, Cronkite introduced Thorsteinsdottir who proceeded to play two epic, if not mesmerizing suites over the course of an hour--one by Benjamin Britten and the other by Gaspar Cassado. Praised by the New York Times as "a charismatic cellist," the Icelandic wunderkind invoked astonishing dynamics and inflections, alternating between mournful, elegiac vibrato and a series of piquant harmonies. For an instrument that, by mainstream standards, is somewhat anachronistic, Thorsteinsdottir's repertoire and execution felt positively contemporary--at times, even pushing the avant-garde. Witnessing her counterpoint, an asymmetrical melding of harsh pummels and the most ginger bowing, one could very well call her concerti the aural equivalent of a Brice Marden painting--elemental, yet infinite.

Following the performance, the 60 and some odd guests reconvened in the bar lounge for a private cocktail reception and photo-ops. At said point, I caught up with perennial stunner Dalia Oberlander. One of the few genuinely well-dressed women of the new social guard, Oberlander arrived sun-kissed, radiant in silken dove grey, and sporting a Balmain statement necklace that resembled slabs of multi-colored marzipan. The glossy-haired brunette, who is planning her own art start-up, rubbed elbows with suave English beau, investor and entrepreneur William Heath, who, after Thorsteinsdottir's inspired recital, buried his classical music prejudices for good. "I'm usually not a fan of cellists, but she was just ridiculous," he conceded.

Incidentally, the evening also marked the advent of the KiptonART Foundation--the non-profit sector of KiptonART Cronkite launched in March. Created in March of 2009, the KiptonART Foundation facilitates the appreciation and endowment of the visual arts and music through the support of emerging talent and educational programs for children. The Foundation's main operation is to promote artist-in-residency programs for struggling artists by providing stipends for them to create and sustain their work. In effect, the Foundation's resources are gleaned from the general public, directly and indirectly, and other fund-raising enterprises. "For many artists, it's a virtual dead zone out there right now," says Cronkite. "Before we decided to branch out into the charity arena, we always endeavored to help the artist, first and foremost. However, at a time when artists are not only struggling with general exposure, but also unable to buy supplies, pay for production fees, and carry overhead in an expensive city, we're starting to welcome the support of the public, private donors, and influential philanthropists."

Noteworthy guests: Justin and Indre Rockefeller, Tatiana Boncompagni and Max Hoover, Lara Meiland-Shaw, Dalia Oberlander, Elizabeth Meigher, William Heath, Julia Erdman, Jeremy Geffen

Up ahead: KiptonART's next music event is slated for September 8--a special collaboration with Elle Magazine and Longchamp Paris, featuring 22 year-old, Grammy-nominated jazz virtuoso Eldar.

Pictured Above
Top: Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir
Middle: Max Hoover and Tatiana Boncompagni
Bottom: Dalia Oberlander and William Heath
Photos Courtesy of Manhattan Society

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