The mission of the Sarasa Ensemble is to bring music to as wide an audience as possible whether it is regular concertgoers of people who ordinarily have little chance to hear live classical music. The name Sarasa is derived from a combination of Saraswathi, the Hindu goddess of art and culture, and the poetic sanscrit word rasa denoting the essence of sound.
Sarasa was formed in response to a concert played by its founder, Timothy Merton, in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in 1997, at the urging of a friend who was a prison volunteer. An inmate who heard that first concert remarked, "When art is well executed, it projects a message that transcends language, culture, and even aesthetic boundaries." Sarasa took these words to heart and since then has been bringing high-quality music to those who ordinarily have little access to it. In addition to its public concerts, the ensemble plays in adult and adolescent correctional facilities, homes for the elderly, mental hospitals, and institutions for the disabled. Sarasa also does three-week residencies in grade schools, using drawing and writing to bring children to a meaningful understanding of classical music.
Sarasa has received critical acclaim for its musical interpretations and is hailed for its "great clarity" and "irresistible energy". Drawing on a pool of more than forty world-class musicians from the USA, Europe, and Canada, the ensemble varies according to the particular program of each of its concerts. Now in its 7th season, Sarasa Chamber Music Ensemble performs music from the early baroque through the romantic eras, drawing on a diverse pool of world-class musicians from the USA and Europe.
A nonprofit organization, Sarasa aims to bring music not only to regular concert audiences, but also to those who do not have easy access to live music through their outreach programs. The ensemble has toured throughout New England, as well as traveling to Cuba, Ireland, and India. The Sarasa Chamber Music Series (in Cambridge and Concord, Massachusetts).