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DPSO principal cellist talks musical preferences, influences and performing in Dana Point

Meet Coco Yanan Hu, principal cellist for the Dana Point Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Courtesy of DPSO
Meet Coco Yanan Hu, principal cellist for the Dana Point Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Courtesy of DPSO

By Andrea Swayne

As the 2015 “One World” season of the Dana Point Symphony Orchestra continues, so does our series featuring artist bios and interviews meant to introduce Dana Point audiences to some of the DPSO’s musicians.

Coco Yanan Hu, principal cellist, is the subject of this week’s feature.

Hu’s love of music began in China with piano and cello lessons starting at the age of 6 and eventually led to a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in cello performance from Xi’an Music Conservatory studying under acclaimed professor Xiaoying Han.

Hu also studies with Albert Roman, principal cellist of Basel Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland and has received master class training from world-famous musicians such as Yoyo Ma, Martin Chalifour, Ning Feng and more.

After performing throughout China, other countries in Asia and Europe with Xi’an Symphony Orchestra and Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Hu moved to the United States in 2012 to continue studying cello at la Sierra University under Pin-Fei Tang.

Hu currently serves as the principal cellist for the La Sierra Symphony Orchestra as well as the DPSO and often works in Hollywood as a recording artist.

She is also passionate about teaching cello and is a faculty member at Academy of Visual and Performing Arts as well as giving private lessons to aspiring young cellists in Orange County.

DANA POINT TIMES: Why did you start studying music?

COCO YANAN HU: When I was around 3 or 4, my mother noticed I had a special reaction when I listen to classical music. When I was old enough to start playing an instrument, my mother gave me an opportunity to explore classical music through piano lessons. I showed not only talent, but also passion. Eventually, as I learned more each day, my love of music led to me cello. Ever since, cello has been a huge part of my life.

DPT: Who has influenced your musical style the most and why?

CYH: I would have to say Yoyo Ma. His performances and music always inspire me. He has a unique ability to make new interpretations on classics and play different genres beautifully. His cello performance produces a rich tone that brings out the deep emotions and feelings from the music he plays.

DPT: Why do you like performing with the DPSO?

CYH: I enjoy performing with my fellow musicians. They’re very talented. When we perform together, I find myself in an enjoyable, calm and relaxed atmosphere. Their passion helps me thrive, energizes me and lets me devote myself to music. Also, the environment around me, the beautiful beach, really inspires me.

DPT: What are your three all-time favorite songs, symphonic or otherwise?

CYH: It’s hard to pick only three, but Brahms’ Symphony No.4, Beethoven’s Symphony No.7, and Villa-Lobos “Bachianas Brasileiras” No. 5 come to mind.

DPT: Describe your musical career in 10 words.

CYH:  Journey filled with passion, persistence, joy and love of music.



The second concert of the Dana Point Symphony Orchestra’s “One World” season is set for Saturday, May 30, 7:30 p.m. at St. Edward’s Church, 33926 Calle La Primavera.

The symphony, under the direction of Dean Anderson, music director and conductor, will perform an evening of music from France, featuring Yang Bartolotti on violin.

The program includes:

  • Ravel, “Bolero”
  • Ravel, “Tzigane”
  • Debussy, “La Mer”

Visual art by Rita Pacheco will also be on display.

Concerts are held once a month through July. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students, seniors and military. A season pass is $60.

Tickets are available online at, and on a first come, first served basis at the door before the performance.

Concert No. 3 is scheduled for June 13, featuring music from Vienna, and No. 4, on July 11 will showcase American music.

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