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The Magnolia String Quartet features violinists Anna Maria Smith and Sarah Cox, cellist Jesse Smith, and violist Presti Hatchell. As longtime friends and colleagues, they have played many years together in various musical settings, and love having the opportunity to prepare and play beautiful music as an established ensemble.


Oakland Farm Open House Arika Jordan Photography Magnolia String Quartet

meet the members


Anna Maria Smith received her Bachelor of Music in performance from East Carolina University where she studied with Ara Gregorian. While a student, Anna Maria was invited to perform in Ara Gregorian's Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival's Next Generation concerts beside internationally-renowned musicians. During her time at ECU, she held both Principal and Concertmaster positions in the East Carolina University Orchestra. She has attended the Masterworks Summer Festival, Summit Music Festival, Catskills High Peaks Summer Chamber Festival, Music in the Mountains Summer Music Festival, and was invited as an apprentice to the Mallarme Youth Chamber Orchestra Festival. Also while a student, Anna Maria has had masterclasses in both solo and chamber settings with artists such as Axel Strauss, Elina Vähälä, Hagai Shaham, Jennifer Koh, The Philadelphia Trio, Philip Setzer, Stephen Clapp, The Tokyo String Quartet, The Weilerstein Trio, Xiao-Dong Wang, and The Ying Quartet. She is currently living in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, cellist Jesse Smith, and they both play professionally in chamber and orchestral settings. Anna Maria performs in the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, Raleigh Symphony, Fayetteville Symphony, and The Long Bay Symphony and teaches private violin, viola, and piano lessons in the Triangle area.

Anna Maria Smith, Violinist Magnolia String Quartet, Private Music Lessons Teacher, Headshot

Anna Maria Smith

Sarah Cox, a native of Southern Pines, NC, graduated from East Carolina University in 2016 with a BM in Violin Performance and a BA in Comparative Humanities. While there, Sarah served as a concertmaster for the ECU Symphony and performed as soloist with the Raleigh Symphony in Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, and in the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the ECU Symphony Orchestra. A student of Ara Gregorian, Sarah performed during her undergraduate years with the Four Seasons Next Generation Chamber Music Series. She has attended the Madeline Island Chamber Music Camp and the Catskills High Peaks Summer Chamber Festival. An avid orchestral musician, Sarah is currently a member of the Carolina Philharmonic, Raleigh Symphony, and Long Bay Symphony, as well as the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, which has included performances with the Carolina Ballet. When not performing, Sarah enjoys teaching private violin, viola, and piano lessons in both Raleigh and Southern Pines, NC. In addition to her musical pursuits, Sarah also holds an MA in History and is a history instructor at Wake Technical Community College.

Sarah Cox

Oakland Farm Open House Arika Jordan, Sarah Cox Violinist Headshot

Jesse Smith is a freelance chamber and orchestral cellist who currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. As an avid performer, Smith is a member of the Fayetteville Symphony, Long Bay Symphony, Raleigh Symphony, and is frequently invited to play with the Carolina Philharmonic. He also enjoys the opportunity to play chamber music throughout the South Eastern Coast. Smith graduated with his bachelor’s degree in music performance from East Carolina University where he studied with Emanuel Gruber.  As a student and later as an alumni, Smith was regularly invited to play alongside internationally-renowned musicians in violinist Ara Gregorian’s “Next Generation” concerts as a part of the Four Season’s Chamber Music Festival. After graduation from ECU, Smith continued his study in performance by attending Stony Brook University. During his time on Long Island he was in the studio of Colin Carr, where he received his Master of Music Performance degree. 

Jesse Smith, Cellist Magnolia String Quartet Headshot

Jesse Smith

Presti Hatchell grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she studied both viola and piano. She participated in a variety of orchestras and ensembles throughout her schooling years, and also attended several well-known summer music festivals. She continued her music performance study of viola at the Peabody Conservatory in the studio of Victoria Chiang. After her time in Baltimore, Presti moved back to Raleigh where she performs as a freelance musician in the surrounding area playing chamber and orchestral music. She is also a private music instructor at a local private school and has a thriving home music studio where she teaches not just viola, but violin and piano as well. Additionally, one of Presti's most important roles is being a wife to her husband and mother to her four children.

Presti Hatchell, Violist Magnolia String Quartet Headshot

Presti Hatchell

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