The fireflies are out, and I’m walking through a stand of cedar trees. The path curves around and spits me out in front of a grand stone gate. My 2-year-old runs through with two of his pint-size buddies, and they turn around and grin. We’ve found a secret garden. There are neat rows of hedges and perennial borders overspilling with white hydrangeas; they climb up a Medieval Mount, a stepped-garden that offers views of the Sunken Garden below.
We’re at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, and the grounds aren’t just beautiful, they’re exquisite. We came for “Dance at Dusk,” a family music event held at the art center a few Wednesdays this summer; you can also enjoy family concerts on Sundays during Al Fresco Sundays. We brought along several of our neighbors and their kids, camping out on blankets for a potluck picnic until the music started up. On the night we’re there, there is a Flamenco band, Flamenco Vivo Carlos Santana, and a Flamenco dancer to inspire the kids to wiggle their hips.
The kids were game: Little girls could get their hair styled with tissue paper poofs, while little boys made fans to dance with. Cued by the Flamenco dancer — what my little one called “fla-mango danshar” — the children tapped their feet, held their hands on their hips and puffed their chests out like roosters. At one point, the kids joined the dancer on stage to twirl and play air-castinets, and even my 2-year-old was up there jumping about. (Although when the Flamenco dancer leaned down to dance with him, he got scared!)
When the performance was over, we ducked through a lush arbor and ornate wrought-iron gate to a large lawn where the kids proposed a game of hide n’ seek. That’s how we spotted an elegant stone fountain, where some older children had found a sprinkler to run through. When I spy a stucco villa with a red-tiled roof, I began to wonder: Where am I? Caramoor is more than a beautiful place to host a children’s concert. We’d walked straight into one of Westchester’s crown jewels, 90-acres of rose gardens, towering pines and unspoiled rolling hills where music isn’t just enjoyed outdoors — It’s celebrated.
Walter and Lucie Rosen purchased Caramoor as a summer home in 1928. They fell in love with the very cedar trees that I fell for; these trees alone are worth a visit. The couple used the property to stow their extensive art collection, and as passionate lovers of music, they often invited friends from around the world to listen to private concerts on the home’s grounds — which was the beginning of Caramoor’s International Music Festival. In 1945, the Rosens donated the Caramoor estate as a center for music and art, and the next year the Music Room held its first summer concert series for the public. The site has been hosting them ever since.
Today, there is ample opportunity to hear music outdoors at Caramoor. On Wednesday, July 25 at 5pm, Dance at Dusk is hosting Banghra Night, a night of Indian folk dance. On Wednesday, August 8, families can see Brazilian dance. A friend says that the concerts held at the Venetian Theater are a treat for a date night. I want to get a babysitter and get a group of neighbors to go back for a lawn picnic sans the kids — just so I have some time to eat this go around.
When it was time to go, my toddler was dragging his feet. So was I.
Did you have a good time?, I asked him.
Well said, little bunny. We’ll definitely be back.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids and can be purchased at the door. Parking is included in admission. Snacks and drinks are available.
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, 149 Girdle Ridge Road, Katonah; 914-232-1252