A native of Chicago, Sarah Berger began playing the piano at age eight, before starting the cello at eleven. Sarah received her bachelor’s degree in music performance from DePaul University, before completing her master’s studies at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. A multiple prize-winner, Sarah was awarded first prize in the Polish Arts Club Competition of Chicago, as well second prizes in the Mary Graham Lasley Scholarship Competition, and the Baltimore Arts Club Competition.
During her years of study, Sarah held principal and tutti positions in ensembles such as Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra, Peabody Symphony Orchestra, DePaul Symphony Orchestra and Round Top Festival Orchestra. Sarah had the great pleasure of performing under the baton of many esteemed conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Tilson Thomas and Sir Mark Elder amongst many others.
Upon finishing her studies, Sarah returned to Chicago to devote her time to teaching and performing in Chicagoland area ensembles, including the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Paderewski Symphony Orchestra, Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphonic Winds.
Sarah serves as the co-founder of the Landowska Harpsichord Society of Illinois, a non-profit organisation promoting young performing artists in the Chicagoland area. She actively helps in the organisation of numerous events for her community.
Aside from music, Sarah enjoys travelling, nature walks, swimming, and learning about the science of cooking.
Sarah’s place in Southbank Sinfonia is generously supported by Derek Stubbs.
Which three people, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?
J.S. Bach – I’d really love to have a conversation with him about how he came to compose the cello suites and how he envisioned them being played.
Mstislav Rostropovich – Besides being one of my greatest idols, I was told he was a fantastic story teller. I’m sure his stories would make me smile, laugh, and cry.
John Oliver – Incredibly intelligent, insightful, and hilarious: a perfect dinner companion!
What is your most embarrassing or amusing musical moment?
I have played for many weddings, but this one was truly the most bizarre one. The couple getting married were teenagers, first off, and their ceremony took place on a small cruise boat. We were requested to play only music selections from Lord of the Rings, which was already amusing enough. However, we were never told we were supposed to play for the rest of the evening during the reception. At this moment, we realised the boat was moving out into the water and we really had choice but to improvise for the next two hours. Fortunately (this was a piano trio) our pianist knew somewhat how to improvise, which inspired the violinist and I, and with the help of the free bar next door, we managed to make some decent sounding background music…and best of all we ended up having a great time!
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us
If I had not gone into music, I would have pursued architecture and designed the most eccentric houses.