Now Hear This (again!): an Interview with Jolyon Pegis, cello

When Jolyon Pegis, Associate Principal Cello of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, played our Bancroft Family Concert series last season, we conducted a “Now Hear This” interview to get to know the musician and the program for that day. For this go-round, we asked a few more questions to get that behind-the-scenes peek our audience loves. Enjoy! And we’ll see you this Saturday, November 10, at 3 p.m. for Dynamic Duos: the Bancroft concert featuring Jolyon with DSO violinist Maria Schleuning.


Jolyon Pegis & Maria Schleuning

What piece on Saturday’s program with Maria are you most excited about?  I’m probably most excited to perform the Kodály Duo. We haven’t performed this work in over 10 years. It’s so well written for both instruments and is fun to perform. The audience will find it entertaining and very satisfying.

Can you explain a bit about what your role as Associate Principal Cello is? What’s your function with the other musicians/within the cello section?  There are two things I need to accomplish as an Associate Principal. If you attend a DSO concert you’ll notice that I am sitting directly behind the Principal. My first goal is to play with the Principal. If I don’t, it will make the job of the section much harder since I will essentially block their view of what the Principal is doing. I also help transmit information from the Principal to the rest of the section. The other duty of anyone who is an Associate Principal is to cover for the Principal if they are off that day. That means you have to be ready to assume the duties of the Principal, sometimes with little notice.

You last played for us in March 2018. What brought you back to play for our audience this season?  This program is the first of a series of concerts that Maria and I are giving. We’ll repeat this program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in December.

What cello piece or recording should everyone have in their music library?  In my last DMA concert in March I performed the Vivaldi Cello Concerto in B Minor. I learned about this piece from a CD of Vivaldi Concertos featuring the cellist Heinrich Schiff. I really love this CD. I think this is a good one for your collection!


An excerpt from Jolyon’s interview in March 2018:

Is chamber music for cello a big part of the repertoire? Yes, it is. These pieces are interesting because they are really chamber concertos. I was surprised to learn many years ago that Vivaldi wrote about 35 of these concertos for cello and Boccherini wrote 15.

How old were you when you started playing cello? Why did you choose it? Did you learn other instruments? I actually started with the violin. I played from ages 5 to 8 and then switched to cello. I’ve always liked the lower register and darker sounds of the cello. I also played the piano throughout high school.

What type of music did you listen growing up? I come from a family of classical musicians so it was strictly classical in our house growing up. With three violinists in the family I heard a lot of violin concertos as a kid. I know we wore out many records from constant playing. Although I preferred playing the cello I really liked listening to certain violinists more than anything. Fritz Kreisler and Pinchas Zukerman were my favorites.

What do you listen to now? I spend so much of my time in rehearsals or performing that sometimes I prefer silence after a concert. The radio stays off on the car ride home! Or I prefer a book on tape.

What advice would you give 14-year-old Jolyon? If you really want to improve, you need to practice consistently and you need to practice smart. It’s so important to have a plan when you get to work. I wish I learned this at an earlier age.

What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college? Music is a very demanding profession. If you’re not all in, don’t do it. If you try to do a double major as a “back-up,” you most likely won’t succeed. The most important thing you will do in college is practice – probably 4 or 5 hours a day. Anything that gets in the way of doing that needs to go. After college you aren’t going to get hired because of your degrees, grades, extra-curricular activities etc. You’ll get hired because of how well you play.

Fine Arts Chamber Players