String Theory: Cellist Returns to O.C. to Join Symphony

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Orange County School of the Arts alum Warren Hagerty returns to the county as the newly appointed principal cellist of Pacific Symphony.

How long have you played the cello?
It was my birthday present at age 4—a quarter-size cello. My mom was a violinist, and she signed me up for cello lessons using the Suzuki method, which is used to teach young kids to play instruments as if they’re learning a language.

What was your experience at OCSA?
I was surrounded by like-minded, supportive people. The nice thing was realizing I wasn’t the only person on the planet who played the cello, which is what it felt like prior to ninth grade.

You also were a chamber musician for many years. How does that compare to being in an orchestra?
In my senior year at Indiana University, some friends and I formed the Verona Quartet, and we attended Juilliard together. It was quite a different experience because there’s no conductor, so you have to democratically decide how to play a piece. And you are playing the part by yourself rather than with a section, so you have to become a really strong artist.

Do you teach, too?
For the past year, I’ve done a lot of teaching with free music education programs such as Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. And I’ve also been helping direct an Orange County program called Junior Chamber Music.

Any standout moments with Pacific Symphony so far?
Every concert has been a standout moment. I grew up watching them, so it’s pretty surreal to be playing with them. I felt immediately at home from the first rehearsal. Every moment with Carl St.Clair is exciting. It’s such an honor to work with him. I admire the fact that after 30 years, he still brings commitment and passion to every concert and rehearsal.

Hear Him!
Check for upcoming performances.

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