Celia Daggy

Viola

Hometown: Santa Monica, CA

Alma mater: Boston University, B.M. 2020

Instagram: @celialto_clef

Profile

Awards/Competitions: Pi Kappa Lambda Honors Society member; Winner, 2017 Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition; Winner, 2017 Tanglewood Music Center annual mock audition

Appearances: Tanglewood Music Center, 2017–19; Spoleto Festival USA, 2019; New York String Orchestra Seminar, 2016; National Youth Orchestra of the USA, 2015

What is your earliest memory of classical music? Both of my parents are musicians, so music has always been a part of my life, even before I could think. But I do remember sitting at the piano with my parents studying from a book called “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” and learning a C-major scale. I couldn’t have been older than three.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career? When I was 13, my mother took me to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra play on tour in Disney Hall. Their encore was Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, and it was during that piece that I had the epiphany of realizing that I wanted to dive headfirst into a musical career. 

How did you hear about TŌN? What inspired you to apply? Some very good friends of mine from Boston auditioned for TŌN a while back, and they could not stop talking about how great the program was once they were in it. I came out for a visit one time to hear a concert and fell in love with the orchestra and the landscape of the Hudson Valley, and knew I wanted to be a part of it all. 

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century? I think that the internet is our best friend here. How lucky we are to be able to communicate with people all around the globe at the touch of a button! I don’t think anything can replace the in-person concert hall experience, but an online component of an orchestra’s output is imperative. 

Who is your biggest inspiration? Steven Ansell, principal violist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and my undergrad professor. On top of having the most incredible sound I’ve ever heard (no one has more guts on the viola, I’m convinced), he is immensely kind and nurturing, and there is no way I would be where I am today if not for him. 

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most? Richard Strauss. His text painting is unmatched. Even though it’s music and not written word, the stories of his pieces are so clear, it feels like I’m reading a book. Not to mention he wrote the best viola solo EVER (Don Quixote).

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it? It changes year to year, but Holst’s The Planets, Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, and all the Strauss tone poems will always be highly ranked. I love how all three of those composers are able to showcase what each instrument and section can do so well, and yet they also have their own unique voices. 

What has been your favorite experience as a musician? Performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the Koussevitsky Music Shed at Tanglewood for the Bernstein 100th Birthday Gala concert is going to be hard to top.

Do you have any embarrassing performance stories? In 7th grade, I was in the finals for a vocal competition, singing Strauss’ Die Nacht. I forgot a couple of words and ended up crying on stage. Needless to say, I didn’t win. 

What is some advice you would give to your younger self? Take a deep breath, not everything requires 100% of your emotional effort.

Favorite non-classical musician or band: Van Halen. I love me some rock ’n’ roll.

If you could play another instrument, what would it be? Horn, hands down.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing? I would want to be an ambassador to another country.

What is your favorite place you’ve travelled to and why? Outside of the U.S.: Prague, Czech Republic. The city was relatively untouched by WWII, so a lot of the old architecture and art of the city is still around, and it feels like walking into a history book when you’re there. Inside the U.S.: Nashville, TN. Mostly because of the fried chicken.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why? Do fictional characters count? I feel like Uncle Iroh from Avatar would have a lot of wisdom to pass onto younger people. But for real people, I’d love to meet Barack Obama and Angela Merkel because their worldwide experiences would be fascinating to learn about.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us: I have two high school diplomas! I graduated Santa Monica High School in three years, but subsequently enrolled in the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences for one year and graduated again.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Try to find inspiration outside of the practice room. It may sound cliché, but a great meal or a hike up to the top of a mountain can work wonders for your musical ideas.