Vega String Quartet 2022: Emily Diggett Smith, Jessica Shuang Wu, Yinzi Kong & Guang Wang. (image: ECMSA)

Vega String Quartet names new first violinist

Mark Gresham | 11 JAN 2022

Emily Daggett Smith

Emily Daggett Smith

ATLANTA, GA— On Monday afternoon, the Vega String Quartet announced that it has named Emily Daggett Smith as the group’s new first violinist. Her first official concert as a member of the Vega Quartet will be in February in Atlanta. In September 2021, she performed as a guest with them in their Beethoven and Bluegrass concert in Emerson Hall with fiddlers Mark and Maggie O’Connor.

Smith replaces former first violinist Elizabeth Fayette, who left in the Spring of 2020 to pursue other opportunities following the onset of the COVIC-19 pandemic. Since Emory University was closed down to visitors, they couldn’t have auditions until last fall, delaying the search.

  • AD SP08_23-12-03-Cantus
  • AD SCPA_2023 Lessons & Carols

The other three players — violinist Jessica Shuang Wu, violist Yinzi Kong, and cellist Guang Wang — are all original members of the Vega Quartet, which has been Quartet in Residence at Emory University in Atlanta since 2006, operating under the auspices of the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta (ECMSA). They have had four different first violinists since then.

In the interim, Vega Quartet played extensively with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concertmaster David Coucheron as guest first violin, including the group’s debut in Bogota, Colombia. They have also played piano quartets with ECMSA artistic director/pianist William Ransom and repertoire for string trio.

  • AD ASO.2023.CS6
  • AD SPI07_23-12-01-Alterman
  • AD Spivey Hall Children's Choir 23-12-08

According to Ransom, the Vega String Quartet selected Smith because “she is a brilliant and beautiful player; has good leadership skills [and] teaching experience and fits in very naturally with the group both playing-wise and personally.”

The press release from Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta offers the following background about Emily Daggett Smith:

Praised as playing “gorgeously” (The Boston Globe) and with “irrepressible élan” (The Seattle Times), violinist Emily Daggett Smith has performed across the United States, Europe, South America and Asia. Dr. Smith made her New York concerto debut playing the Beethoven Concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra in Alice Tully Hall and has since performed with orchestras including Iris Orchestra, the Festival Mozaic Orchestra, and the New York Classical Players.

She has given solo recitals across the country at venues including the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater and Music in the Loft in Chicago. Dr. Smith has performed with renowned musicians, including members of the Cleveland, Emerson, and Juilliard String Quartets. Her performances have taken place at some of the world’s greatest halls, including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Shanghai Grand Theatre, and the Vienna Konzerthaus.

  • AD ECMSA 2023-24 season

As concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra, she worked with conductors including Michael Tilson-Thomas and Leonard Slatkin. She has appeared as guest concertmaster of orchestras including Iris Orchestra, the Orlando Philharmonic, and The Knights. Equally passionate about performing old and new music, Dr. Smith has commissioned and premiered dozens of works, both as a soloist, chamber musician, and member of The Knights Chamber Orchestra.

Despite her busy performance schedule, Dr. Smith is dedicated to teaching and has served on faculty at the Bard Conservatory Pre-College, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Stony Brook University, and The Juilliard School where she is assistant for Laurie Smukler. She holds a Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University. Her teachers have included Soovin Kim, Philip Setzer, Joel Smirnoff, Laurie Smukler, and Donald Weilerstein. She plays on a Johannes Cuypers violin, generously donated by Dr. Marylou Witz.

■ ■ ■
External links:

Mark Gresham

Mark Gresham is publisher and principal writer of EarRelevant. he began writing as a music journalist over 30 years ago, but has been a composer of music much longer than that. He was the winner of an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for music journalism in 2003.