Viola Faculty, Strings Department
Described as “a tireless force of musical curiosity, skill, and enthusiasm” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), Sarah’s career spans centuries and styles on viola and baroque violin, with deep roots in Boston. She studied at Harvard, Juilliard, Amsterdam, Freiburg, and New England Conservatory, working with James Dunham, Karen Tuttle, Wolfram Christ, Nobuko Imai, and Kim Kashkashian. In addition to countless early music and new music ensembles, she is a central force in A Far Cry, who recently topped Billboard’s Traditional Classical charts and celebrated two Grammy nominations. “The Criers” have a distinct approach to music-making, as a self-conducted ensemble—a democracy in which decisions are made collectively, and leadership rotates among the players.
“The funny thing about A Far Cry’s model, for me, is that there’s nothing special about it in the abstract. It’s just the Golden Rule writ large. We treat each other as we would like to be treated—which automatically leads to the rotation of leadership and sharing of artistic planning and responsibilities. We find the benefits for all of us are greater if we focus on our individuality within our equality and empower each other to take risks.
We are an organization that exists at the neighborhood level, the city, regional, national, and international level. In our neighborhood of Jamaica Plain (Boston), we begin with visibility and access: rehearsing behind a store-front window where any passerby can see and be welcomed into the space via sidewalk signage. The community spirit here is absolutely marvelous! Even in the shadow of gentrification, there are large grassroots movements to keep the place people-powered.
Our location in Boston definitely helps us thrive. Not because there aren’t interesting people everywhere—there ABSOLUTELY are—but because there’s a tradition in Boston of loving…well, nerdy art! Folks here tend to get excited by things that are unusual, curious, and well-wrought. And when that excitement is on display, it’s much easier to find other people who love the same things that you love.
This semester, I had the honor of co-teaching a Longy class called ‘Music and Civic Engagement’ alongside a specialist in Human-Centered Design (a way of thinking about design that puts our audience front and center, including them in the process of creating a meaningful artistic experience). The class was diverse on so many levels: life experience, country of origin, languages spoken, a good mix of instrumentalists, singers, composers, and improvisors. The class was dependent on independent teamwork and I wondered if we’d be able to find enough points of unity to work well together.
The answer was absolutely YES, and that taught me a lot about Longy. There’s a myriad of opportunity within these walls, and there’s a feeling of community and an ability to work together that grows naturally. That’s the school in a nutshell: it’s a family feeling, even though the members come from across the country and around the world. It’s a truly safe place to explore and learn from our differences—and celebrate the things that bring us together.”
More information about Sarah Darling and A Far Cry can be found at afarcry.org.