The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 19, 2008


Cambridge-Carlisle: a special musical connection

Take out your 2009 calendar and highlight Thursday, January 8, 8 p.m., at the First Religious Society (FRS). On that night there will be a performance by The Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, the second in the three-part “Chamber Music by Candlelight” series given each year at the FRS by the Cambridge Society for Early Music (CSEM).

The young musicians of the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra celebrate after one of their performances. In the left front are Director Phoebe Carrai (cello) and next to her, concertmaster Sarah Darling (violin). (Photo by Teresa Tam,

The Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra is made up of young musicians drawn from the area’s finest colleges and conservatories. The all-Vivaldi concert will feature virtuoso ensemble music, with many members of the orchestra performing as soloists. Director of the orchestra is baroque cellist Phoebe Carrai, a faculty member at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, who was recently also named to the faculty of the Julliard School of Music in New York.

Sarah Darling, formerly of Carlisle, on violin plays the Double Concerto for Violin and Oboe with Graham St-Laurent on the baroque oboe. (Photo by Teresa Tam,

A special Carlisle connection

There is a special Carlisle connection to this concert through the orchestra’s concertmaster and violinist Sarah Darling, who grew up on West Street. Darling attended the Carlisle School and Concord-Carlisle High School. Upon graduating from Harvard College, Darling studied abroad in Amsterdam and Freiberg and is currently in the doctoral program at the New England Conservatory of Music. She plays viola with both the Portland (Maine) Symphony Orchestra and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. For the musically inclined in Carlisle, Darling is a familiar figure on stage with the Arcturus Chamber Ensemble, which she helped found and with which she has performed four or five times over the past several years at the FRS. Arcturus will be performing in Carlisle on Saturday, January 3, at 7:30 p.m. at FRS. Admission is free.

Eric Darling, Sarah’s father, is the treasurer of the CSEM and her mother, Margaret, provides tasty post-concert refreshments.

From Cambridge to Carlisle

The Cambridge Society for Early Music was founded in 1952 by noted harpsichordist and musicologist Erwin Bodky. For the first 28 years, concerts were performed at Harvard’s Sanders Theater in Cambridge, offering the rich musical culture of five centuries of Western music from the Middle Ages to the early 19th century. In 1980, CSEM’s “Chamber Music by Candlelight” concerts moved to more intimate venues in locations around the Greater Boston area.

It was A. E. (Ben) Benfield of West Street, a donor and regular attendee with his family of CSEM concerts at Sanders Theater, who suggested Carlisle and the FRS as one of the sites for concerts to be held in five historic New England locations. A total of 15 concerts, three at each site, are now annually performed in Salem, Carlisle, Weston, Ipswich and Cambridge.

Harpsichordist and president

Today the president of CSEM is James Nicolson, a teacher of the harpsichord at the Longy School and a performer on the virginal who has toured throughout Europe for the past 24 years. The virginal is a small, rectangular harpsichord which was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. Nicolson is also responsible for making artistic choices in selecting performers for CSEM. On April 16 in Carlisle, for the third concert of this season, Nicholson will perform on the virginal, with four singers and a commentator in “Courtly Encounters — Spain and England – 1554.”

For those who have attended the CSEM concerts in Carlisle, whether in Union Hall or upstairs in the FRS Sanctuary, there is always more than the music to enjoy. Following each concert, refreshments are served in Union Hall and there is always an opportunity to engage in conversation with the performers.

General admission is $30, $25 for seniors, free to students with IDs and children. Tickets are available at the door. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito