Meet the Magnolia String Quartet

Magnolia String Quartet

The Magnolia String Quartet features violinists Victoria Pedroza and Anna Maria Smith, violist Presti Merrill, and cellist Jesse Smith. Based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, the  members of the quartet have known and played music together for many years. The ensemble enjoys every opportunity to play beautiful music for weddings and events and provide their listeners and clients with the perfect music for their special occasion. 

Photo By: Sarah Morrel Photography

Victoria Pedroza Violin Magnolia String Quartet

Victoria Pedroza

Victoria Pedroza, a native of Raleigh, earned her Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Joan Kwuon.

Coming from a musical family, Victoria began playing the violin at the age of 4; as a student of Eric McCracken, she was a winner of the Raleigh Symphony's Benjamin K Gibbs award, performing as a soloist with the Raleigh Symphony in 2009. 

Victoria has performed in masterclasses most notably for Daniel and Todd Philips, Leila Josefowicz, Grigory Kalinovsky, Benny Kim, Cathy Meng Robinson, and Peter Salaff.

During her studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Victoria participated in numerous performances, including a tour to Asheville, NC, as well as a live studio performance for WCLV’s Symphony at 7 with the CIM Symphony Orchestra; solo recitals and outreach performances both locally and as a performer for CIM’s Distance Learning Center, reaching schools and audiences internationally; Chamber music performances across the greater Cleveland area; a live performance over Kansas Public Radio as a festival scholar for the Heartland Chamber Music Festival in 2013, as well as masterclasses and coachings with members of the Cavani, Miami, and former Cleveland Quartets, and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson trio.

Currently, Victoria teaches for Cardinal Gibbons High School as a part of their Middle School Arts Program; she directs string orchestras at St. Raphael and St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Schools as well as The Franciscan School. In addition to a large studio of private students, Victoria has played in recent seasons with the Richmond Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, as well as performances of the National Anthem for the Carolina Hurricanes.

AnnaMaria Smith

Anna Maria Smith received her Bachelor of Music in performance from East Carolina University where she studied with Ara Gregorian. While a student in college, 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 is a member of the Raleigh Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, and The Long Bay Symphony and teaches private violin and viola lessons in the Triangle area.


Presti Merrill

Presti Merrill grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she studied both the viola and piano. She participated in multiple orchestras and groups as a student throughout her schooling years, and also attended several well-known summer music festivals. She continued her study in viola at the Peabody Conservatory in the studio of Victoria Chiang, and Presti now lives in Raleigh and works as a freelance violist in the surrounding area as a chamber and orchestral musician. She also teaches privately at a local 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 loving mother to her three children.

Jesse Smith Cello Magnolia String Quartet

Jesse Smith

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.