David Hagy Music Director Emeritus

In June of 2023 Dr. David Hagy was presented the title of Music Director Emeritus for his outstanding achievements and revolutionary leadership of the Salisbury Symphony during his 35 year long tenure.

David Hagy

The Salisbury Symphony was conceived in 1966 and performed its first concert in November of 1967 with Mr. Albert Chaffoo as its first music director and conductor. The orchestra consisted largely of students from Catawba and Livingstone Colleges, volunteers from the community, and a concertmaster and principal players from the orchestra that Mr. Chaffoo had founded in Hickory. Mr. Chaffoo spent 15 years developing and leading the Salisbury Symphony. He retired in 1982.

Following Mr. Chaffoo, Dr. Douglas Myer served as music director and conductor for two years, 1982-84. He began to steer the orchestra from a largely volunteer organization to a more professional one. Dr. Richard Fiske, who served from 1984-87, continued to hire professional musicians and to refine the musical quality of the organization. Then, in the summer of 1987, the Board of Directors of the Salisbury Symphony found it necessary to seek a new Music Director/Conductor.

At this time, the Board consulted the American Symphony Orchestra League (now known as the League of American Orchestras) for guidance. The Board reviewed its mission statement and identified the qualities it was seeking in a new music director. A Search Committee was formed and a nationwide search was begun.
In the ensuing weeks, there were eighty-nine applications from all over the United States for the part time position. The Board and its Search Committee read and pondered the applications. Eventually, four applicants were selected to audition for the position. Each was asked to rehearse and conduct the orchestra on one of its four, 1987-88 season concerts.

It was an exciting year! Missy Shives, then the General Manager, and Dr. Legare (Bo) McIntosh, the Board president and a Catawba music professor, planned the season’s four concerts. Each of the four candidates was assigned a concert and each came to Salisbury for that concert, staying in the home of a volunteer, while he rehearsed the orchestra, met with the Symphony Board and Guild, and finally conducted the orchestra in its performance.
After each concert, the Board, Guild, and orchestra’s musicians evaluated the conductor. Any of the candidates would have been acceptable, so it was a difficult decision. But by the end of the season, the decision was made to hire David Hagy. Little did the Board know at that time how RIGHT they had been!

David is a consummate musician, fair in his hiring practices, liked by both musicians and audiences, and meticulous in every detail. He has improved the orchestra by judiciously selecting and hiring professional musicians who enjoy playing under his direction. His own preparation of the music is thorough, and he uses his rehearsal time effectively. He has expanded the orchestra’s repertoire, and planned creative programs that are interesting to both audiences and musicians. Additionally, David has served with a variety of theatre groups and consistently educated our community.

In 1991, while serving as our Music Director, David completed the requirements for his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Orchestral Conducting from the Yale University School of Music. We could call him “Dr. David Hagy,” but he humbly prefers to be known as Mr. Hagy, or simply as “David.”

The Symphony Board had sought a Music Director/Conductor who would live in Salisbury and be “our” conductor. David moved to Salisbury, and while also serving as the orchestra director at Wake Forest University and guest conducting orchestras around the country, he became an integral part of our Salisbury community, serving for 35 years. The Board had made the right decision.

Past Executive Director – Missy Shives