It will be a very special moment for both the Carpenter family, who began their musical career in Great Neck, and their longtime teacher, Joe Rutkowski, when they perform together at Columbia University’s Teatro on April 3 in a benefit concert for Family Focus Adoption Services.
Clarinetist Rutkowski, instrumental director at North High, will play with siblings Sean Avram Carpenter (North High Class of 1999), Lauren Sarah Carpenter (Class of 2002) and David Aaron Carpenter (Class of 2004), who are the founding members of the Salomé Chamber Orchestra.
Though the Carpenters have played with their teacher numerous times since Rutkowski taught violin concertmaster Sean when he was in the sixth grade, principal violinist Lauren and solo violist David, this will be their first professional concert appearance together. Together with Salomé Chamber, Rutkowski, who has taught music in Great Neck since 1991, will play the Mozart Clarinet Quintet K 581.
The Carpenters have given many benefit concerts since Salomé was formed almost five years ago, but the Family Focus event at Columbia has additional significance, as Rutkowski’s wife, Lisa Binder, is the charity’s assistant director. Family Focus concentrates on placing older children into permanent adoption and offers training for potential adoptive parents.
“The inspiration for this concert was fairly simple,” said Binder, who has been married to Rutkowski almost 30 years. “It came to my attention that Salomé was performing benefits for nonprofits and that this was a core part of their mission. The proverbial light bulb went off in my head.”
“We have the opportunity to effect change in the world with a lot of things we do with Salomé,” explained Lauren. “Working with nonprofits like Family Services Adoption is one of the ways that we choose to donate our time and energy to. We’re very passionate about it and very excited about it. We’re really excited about having Mr. Rutkowski perform with us. “
“Not only did he lead the way and show us, by example, about how disciplined he was, he was always a father figure for us,” she added. “We saw him every day from when we were in sixth grade through senior year in high school. He was an incredibly caring and nurturing individual. He cared about us, he cared about our musical career and he cared about our family. Collaborating with him on the concert is the least we can do to give back to him and the Great Neck North music program and to Lisa for all they’re passionate about.”
“It will be a thrill beyond words to perform with Salomé Chamber on April 3,” said Rutkowski of his protégés, all of whom went on to Princeton University to major in political science after high school. Sean continued his graduate studies at the University of Cambridge. “Music was never the intention,” added Lauren, ironically. The siblings have also successfully started Carpenter Fine Violins, a venture that caters to investors, musicians, and collectors of rare instruments.
“I have known the Carpenters since Sean was a 10-year-old at North Middle,” Rutkowski continued. “They have been the most loyal students and now they have this incredible orchestra that does charity events. When Lisa asked Lauren if Salomé would do a benefit for Family Focus, Lauren did not hesitate. And the best part for me is that I get to rehearse and play with these fine musicians.”
“When Lauren and Sean, as co-founders, and David, as artistic director, formed Salomé, Joe and I began attending their concerts throughout the city,” Rutkowski’s wife added. “I have known the Carpenters since my husband began teaching them. Joe would come home after school raving about this family in which all three children play the violin, all three incredibly gifted children. There was never any doubt in my mind that these three young people would do extraordinary things. The communication as they play is really something wonderful to watch.”
Tickets to the 8 p.m. April 3 concert are available at www.salomechamber.org.
This article appeared in Issue 3.07.14.