Connections: Bravo, Montauk

Genuine Montaukers are a breed apart

Although the jokey nickname is often used, calling Montauk “The End” doesn’t really catch the spirit of the buzzing community at the tip of Long Island. It has always felt like a place apart — though it is part of East Hampton Town, of course — but the wind-blown, isolated atmosphere that for so long made it feel like an island has diminished as crowds and commerce have descended in force. Still, genuine Montaukers are a breed apart, and those of us from other parts of town are undoubtedly “from away,” as East Hamptoners have called outsiders for generations. 

I didn’t expect to find myself thinking about what makes Montauk unique when I went to a delightful concert there last weekend, but the evidence was clear that the hamlet is still different. As regular readers of this column are probably aware, my husband and I are fans of classical music and frequently attend concerts on the booming classical scene. But even we must admit that the standard South Fork audience for classical music is, you know, white-haired. Not so in Montauk.

Lilah Gosman, a Montauk native and vocalist, and her husband, Milos Repicky, a pianist who is on the staff of the Metropolitan Opera, have revived the longstanding series Music for Montauk, taking it under their wings after the unexpected death of the extraordinary woman who was its spark plug, Ruth Widder. As professional musicians and new parents, Ms. Gosman and Mr. Repicky have a broad circle of accomplished colleagues, whom they plan to call on as they continue the tradition of free concerts for children at the Montauk School, as well as popular concerts for the general public, also free. 

The season’s inaugural concert on Saturday filled the Montauk School auditorium (which also is its gym). Not too many outlanders seemed to be in the audience, but what was surprising was its composition. Yes, the white-haired music-lovers like my husband and me were in attendance, but so were lots and lots of kids. And, guess what? They were almost unbelievably well behaved. 

One little guy, who I learned later was only 1, sat quietly in a stroller seat or on his mother’s lap; a pacifier obviously helped. Another mother, up on one of the side bleachers, held a sleeping child in her lap, while another young girl sat next to them quietly. Several prettily dressed little girls stood attentively and politely for the whole concert at the rear of the auditorium, where they didn’t have to remain absolutely still. They were quiet as mice. 

Two violinists, a cellist, a bass player, and Mr. Repicky were joined by a mezzo-soprano in a program dedicated to spring that was for the most part familiar. But it also included a most unusual premiere: The viola line of the Spring movement of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” was sung by the mezzo. She also brought down the house with a provocative aria  from “The Barber of Seville.” 

The concert was in late afternoon, which may have had something to do with children’s being there, but I bet some of them were Montauk School students who liked what they heard and were willing to listen again after, as is traditional, the concert was put on just for them on Friday, the day before.

Various new venues and innovative programs are slated for this summer, and judging by the enthusiastic crowd at a benefit party at Gosman’s restaurant following the first concert, Music for Montauk in its new incarnation will be a wonderful success. Like Montauk itself, it promises to be sui generis, which is to say, in a class of its own.