When Kate and Richard Owen first dreamt up the idea of forming their own orchestra, they were confident the endeavor would be a successful one.
That was 12 years ago in Vienna. Fast-forward to today, and it’s safe to say that the couple, who is raising their three young sons in Southeast, was right.
On Sunday, Kate and Richard will take to the stage—he as conductor and she as principal cellist—at the Kosciuszko Foundation in Manhattan. They’ll be performing with the rest of Camerata New York, the orchestra they established abroad and moved to the U.S. 10 years ago.
“A lot of organizations have trouble making it,” Richard, who works as a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley, said. “We’ve been able to keep our mission and exist. Now it’s a matter of just surviving out there, and we somehow have figured out how to do it.”
The number of performers in the orchestra varies, but typically consists of no more than 50 professional musicians. Some have played with the New York Philharmonic, and Richard and Kate say the talent makes for a “first-rate performance.”
The ensemble, which was founded with the goal of promoting the “most talented young musicians in New York,” typically focuses on “the great works, from baroque to contemporary.” What makes Camerata different from other orchestras, Kate said, is the intimate atmosphere her husband creates as conductor during each performance.
“He is a master of picking interesting programs,” she said, adding that Richard’s style is to speak to the audience and provide some background about each piece—something that garners tons of compliments.
Sunday’s show is slated to feature a “chamber of orchestral favorites,” including works by Faure and Niccolo Piccini.
The venue is an oak-paneled room, known for its acoustics, broken up by the occasional window. It seats just about 100 people, Kate and Richard said—making it the perfect place for spectators to get up close and personal with the “music-making.”
Typically, the pair said, the ensemble does not begin rehearsing until just about a week before a performance.
“It’s quite intense,” said Kate, who gives private lessons to folks from across the area. “We want a unified ensemble, and we try to create identity with each piece. That’s the challenge.”
For Richard, who began his musical career during childhood, singing and playing the piano, that intensity begins long before showtime. As conductor, he’s charged with coordinating tons of behind-the-scenes efforts, too.
“I love working with people,” Richard said. “You’re bringing out the best in them, trying to motivate them. You can’t be a shy, unassuming person.”
Aside from Sunday’s show, folks around Brewster and Southeast will have at least one more opportunity to see Richard and Kate in their element as the season progresses. Camerata New York is slated to perform at the in June, and the couple anticipates solidifying more local shows.
As always, they hope to find additional fans along the way. The ensemble works primarily off private contributions.
“There is no donation too small,” the conductor said. “That’s something you always have to work on.”
Richard and Kate, along with the rest of Camerata New York’s trustees, are perpetually searching for new supporters. Lawrence Greenberg, a Westchester resident who sits on the Board, said that there are not many people who wouldn’t find some enjoyment in the orchestra.
“I think Camerata New York appeals to a broad range of people, from the ardent classical music fan to those who are new to classical music but are interested in learning more.”
The show begins at the Kosciuszko Foundation (15 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065) at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors).