Strings Faculty

This is my first year teaching at Longy! It’s a whirlwind of diverse experiences within a family-sized footprint. The fact that you can delve into historical performance, new music, and jazz without blinking an eye—or walking 100 feet—is breathtaking. And there’s a feeling of community, an ability to work together that grows naturally. That’s the school in a nutshell: it’s a family feeling, even though members come from across the country and around the world. Music breaks down boundaries, and I feel like this works by example. You have to show that you’re willing to ‘go there’ and then wait to see if folks will meet you there. On the great days, ‘there’ is a crowded place! This community is well-suited to musicians with a vision who want to expand music, play with it, and ultimately, live it.
— Sarah Darling

Meet Sarah Darling, A Far Cry

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 Ashley Pinakiewicz, 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.

Visit a Day in the Life of Emily Bieker, Strings UD
Program Highlights

Hear A Crescendo of Anti-Racism in Classical Music! founder of Longy Ensemble-in-Residence Castle of our Skins Ashleigh Gordon on Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, discussing the remarkable work of Black classical composers and musicians through history.

Our Strings Department faculty are active performers and dedicated teachers, encompassing a wide range of styles and repertoire, from early music to new compositions. We emphasize individual attention from faculty mentors, ensemble playing, small classes, cross-departmental collaboration, and frequent performance opportunities, to create a uniquely inspiring learning environment.

Course Highlights
Chamber Music with a Point of View
Approach musical works using interdisciplinary entry points, such as poetry, improvisation, literature, dance, and visual art.
Taking on the C String!
A fun, exploratory, and engaging class in which violin students have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the viola.

My favorite job was touring the Broadway production of Miss Saigon. I got to work with so many talented people! That year on tour reminded me not only of the joy of music in my life, but also the importance of bringing music to the lives of others. We also volunteered at local food pantries and elementary schools as we travelled.
— Tyler James

Meet Tyler James, Cello MM '22

More Program Highlights

Studio Lessons: Collaboration with a faculty mentor is the cornerstone of conservatory education at Longy. Together you will explore your unique artistic and professional goals while expanding technical and musical insight.

Master Classes and Seminars: Through workshops, master classes, discussions, and presentations, weekly seminars offer insight regarding interpretation, repertoire, and performance practice. Through a special partnership with Celebrity Series of Boston, emerging artists in its Debut Series present exclusive workshops and master classes with Longy students throughout th� year.

Chamber Music: Georges Longy’s belief in the power of collaboration inspires the central role of chamber music in our conservatory. You will work closely with faculty coaches every semester and explore ensemble playing through coursework, informal readings, and community outreach.

Pedagogy: We believe that teaching should be a form of heightened, enlivened communication. Rather than focusing solely on acquiring pedagogical skills, we seek to draw out your latent expertise and help you communicate authentically. Students are placed in partnering schools and youth music organizations for a teaching practicum.

Orchestral Repertoire: Courses examine standard orchestral repertoire, focusing on elements of technique and style including bowing, intonation, and rhythm. Particular emphasis is placed on orchestral audition preparation.

Longy Conservatory Orchestra: The Longy Conservatory Orchestra presents six concerts and one opera per season, exploring a wide range of repertoire encompassing baroque and contemporary music in addition to the classical and romantic canon.

Teaching Artist Program: Required of all students, this two-semester program includes active learning experiences, discussions, foundational readings, and interactive presentations. It culminates in student-designed and student-led musical projects in various community venues throughout the Greater Boston area.