It’s a brand new week, and it is time for another Meet A Deac. But before we get started, I want to share the COVID update that was sent to the campus community today.

Back to Meet A Deac. I’m overjoyed that we have faculty members represented, and today we are meeting one of our extraordinary arts faculty, David Hagy.

David Hagy of the Music DepartmentDavid – thanks for doing this. To get started, will you please tell me your job title and how long you’ve been at Wake? My title is Teaching Professor and Orchestra Director in the Music Department. I’m finishing my second-to-last school year at WFU, and my 26th year here.

And tell me a little about your educational background. I earned my B.M. (Bachelor of Music) in Violin Performance from Indiana University, and my D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) in Orchestral Conducting from Yale University.

How would you describe your job in layperson’s terms? I have taught Introduction to Western Music, History of American Musical Theater, Conducting, and a Freshman Seminar in the Music Theater of Stephen Sondheim as well as conducting the Orchestra and our musicals for the last 26 years. I have overseen the selection of Music Presidential Scholars for 21 of those years. I have led three semesters at Casa Artom in Venice and consider those semesters to be among the happiest in my life. I have become friends with many of my students across the years and cherish those friendships, staying in touch and meeting with several of them regularly. I will retire at the end of next year and hope to give a concert with all former orchestra members invited back to perform next April.

COVID changed so much of faculty members’ work. Talk a little about that. Working with a piecemeal Orchestra proved to be a great challenge during this COVID year. In the fall, all winds could only contribute by individually recording their parts. In the spring, at least winds could rehearse indoors following safety protocols, but they could not meet with the strings until the end of the semester. All performances were recorded and had no live audiences. How we long for a live audience!

What would you say was one of the biggest challenges you felt during the pandemic? The worst aspect of the pandemic on a day-to-day basis was not seeing any smiling faces because of the masks.

You have been at Wake a long time. What do you like best about working here? My favorite aspect of Wake Forest is its friendliness. The music faculty are friendly and supportive of each other. The students want to play with the Orchestra and work together in a friendly environment to make great musical performances. I always believed great work could come from positive environments, and Wake Forest proves this!

What did you miss most about normal times on campus this past academic year? Friendly smiles across lunch and dinner tables, and the full Orchestra working together!

If you were offering advice to a student, what would you say? Don’t be afraid to be the (good) person you are and to speak what you believe. Respect all others who do the same by listening to them. Keep an open mind as long as you can. Don’t be afraid to love many people and show them you care.

What about advice to Wake parents and families? Trust, but occasionally verify. People who love and care for others occasionally verify; none of us can be entirely honest ever. Be prepared for good children who are not at all what you expect!

Ready for the bonus questions? Here goes!

Donna Leon's book Trace ElementsBook you’re reading now: Donna Leon’s Trace Elements

Favorite band or musician: San Francisco Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Salisbury Symphony, Wake Forest University Orchestra the San Francisco Symphony

TV, movies, Netflix, etc.: E.T., the Extraterrestrial, The Gazebo, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings sagasET from ET the Extra Terrestrial

Website you frequent: kenkenpuzzle; jigsawplanet

Guilty pleasures: going to Broadway, traveling with friends, napping with my cat

Introvert or extrovert: half and half

Something most people don’t know about you: I like carnival rides.

What’s at the top of your post-pandemic bucket list? I will travel and I’ll work normally with my orchestras!

What question didn’t I ask you that you wish I had? “What makes life worth living?” And if you want the answer:
family and friends!

Thanks for sharing your story with us, David – and for all you do for our students and for helping the arts thrive at Wake!

[Editor’s note – you can read past Meet A Deacs here].

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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