The Questions: Barbara Elder -Fall 2017

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

Barbara Elder has spent the last 36 years in the musical arts on Nantucket, teaching, performing and mentoring students of all ages. Now she is the new president of the Nantucket Arts Council. We caught up with her last month and asked her to reflect on her life in the arts as her organization was planning the Nantucket Arts Festival.

How did you get to Nantucket? Tell us your story.

There was an ad in The Boston Globe for “director of music school on Nantucket Island, choral director and pianist preferred.” My husband and I were ready to move out of Boston with our baby to a place where he could write and I could be involved with music. This seemed like it might be a possibility for a few years. I flew down to Newark Airport where I interviewed with Eva Marie Tausig (Nantucket Musical Arts Society and Nantucket Music Center founding member) and then came to the island for a visit where I interviewed with Susie Jarrell (Nantucket Music Center founding member). Jim and I felt welcomed and thoroughly “warned” about living on the island yearround. I interviewed in the fall and we moved here on Jan. 1, 1982 with our year-old son Will. We had never been here in the summer. Being a Jersey Shore girl though, I wasn’t surprised or overwhelmed when the summer season came.


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