Dr. Caroline Bauman, now in her 80s, is a cornerstone in Westchester, NY—yes, as a doctor, but also as a central figure for the Westchester Chamber Music Society, where she’s volunteered for about 40 years.
Officially, Dr. Bauman is the Westchester Chamber Music Society’s president. “She is president, vp, treasurer, secretary, and bottle-washer for that organization,” according to her son William.
For over 60 years, the Society has sought out the world’s most celebrated ensembles and brought fine chamber music to the community. Dr. Bauman’s series, presently held at Congregation Emanu-El in Rye, NY, presents the famous string quartets of our time: the Emerson, Tokyo, Ysaye, and the Orion, to name a few who have enriched Westchester’s cultural life.
Dr. Bauman’s latest discovery is the Antonin String Quartet recently showcased in a glorious concert of Bedrich Smetana, Amadeus Mozart, and Samuel Barber. They are a wonderful group and one to watch for sure.
For Dr. Bauman, presenting these concerts has been a labor of love. She is constantly trying to increase audiences in Westchester and scout out new talent.
Caroline Bauman, first and foremost a humanitarian and a dedicated mother, has been famous in the Westchester, NY area for decades and decades. The names of her immediate family read like a “Who’s Who” list in the medical profession.
Her late husband, Dr. Arthur Bauman was a well-known endocrinologist. It is widely known that Caroline and Arthur often cared for patients regardless of the their financial circumstances. The couple’s generosity was legendary.
Their oldest son, Bill (Ph. D. and M.D.) is a world renowned researcher on the spinal cord and has been the recipient of the highly coveted Magnuson Award.
Andrew, the second son, is one of my closest friends. Also a Ph.D. and M.D., he teaches at Dartmouth College and is loved by colleagues and patients alike.
In a household devoted to medicine, music was always central. Bill plays violin very well (but I have the upper hand when it comes to violin fingerings.) Andrew plays viola for pleasure, and Amy, the Bauman’s daughter, played violin in the same orchestra I did as a kid.
Year after year Dr. Bauman has introduced the finest music to an informed community. I know there have been years where the Westchester Chamber Music Society wanted to close due to a deficit, but through the strength of character of this powerful woman, they were always able to raise the funds.
I would be naive to omit the outstanding work of Dr. Bauman’s well chosen board, who painstakingly support her in her quest for the best musical performances. Her ably eared son Bill has helped with talent scouting, for example.
Her strong group of devoted supporters appreciate and love her and those musicians who appear in this series are well aware of Dr. Bauman’s vast achievement in holding this wonderful series together for such a long time.
Despite the scant support for the arts, the Society’s tickets and subscriptions are very reasonable, and I dare say one could buy the whole subscription for far less than a front row seat at a rock concert today.
These concerts are even offered free of charge to young school students, yet it is shocking that more young are not present at the concerts. The average concert seems to be attended by white-haired devotees who would never miss a concert, loving what they hear. They have come to pay homage to the greatest minds ever to inhabit the earth.
What is the Place of Classical Music Today?
Is classical music of the highest caliber necessary in our society? After all what is music all about? The voyages taken by these composers in the form of auditory sound journeys rival the most spectacular space journey ever taken.
The composers, when really good (and they aren’t just good, they’re great) take us to forgotten landscapes, to romances long lost, and to loves found. The counterpoint used by these greats—Dvorak, Beethoven, Schubert, Smetana, Ravel, and so on—crafted in the superb medium of the string quartet, is in itself, overwhelming.
Woven in four parts, the greatest treasures ever created in a fabric of audio tapestry should overwhelm even the most bored neophyte. Does it come easily, understanding what this music all about? No! Not at all. There are many, many levels of meaning. Yet even the untrained ear can sit back and be thrilled by the quartet’s journey.
Maybe those who read this article can start coming to concerts. Send your children. Tell them they will hear adventure and romance and tragedy and all the stuff of real life—not fabricated entertainment whose outcome often incites violence.
Although we accept our violent culture as the norm, we can also see what one determined person has managed to achieve—an antidote, which uplifts our troubled society.
Eric Shumsky is a concert violist. For more information, visit www.shumskymusic.com
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