Derek Handley, cello, has been performing with the Madison Symphony Orchestra since 2013. This Q&A is part of our Home Is Where the Art Is series of artist stories featuring our musicians.

What was the most important lesson you learned from a teacher or mentor?           

“It’s okay to make a mistake.” This advice was given by Hans Jensen, cello professor at Northwestern University. I studied with him to earn my Masters. This was a shock to me to learn because he demanded perfection.

What is special about playing with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, John DeMain, and performing with your colleagues?

The MSO is, simply put, a world class organization. And the city of Madison is so blessed to have an orchestra with so many outreach programs, and the talent/skill level of musicians. John gets the best soloists here, while harboring a deep camaraderie within the orchestra.

Tell us about what you most love to do outside of your career as a musician.

Spend time outdoors with my family — my wife of 8 years Natalie, 4 year old Daniel, and 1 year old Bennett. We love visiting the state parks.

What do your daily or weekly routines look like these days?           

Constantly trying to maintain some level of order, quarantined in a house with two boys under the age of 5.

What are things you’re cooking, shows/movies you’re watching, and/or other hobbies you’ve developed during this time?           

Binging on shows like Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Stranger Things… As a lifelong Bulls fan, I have just gotten hooked on The Last Dance mini series on ESPN.

What music are you listening to for personal enjoyment?           

Ray LaMontagne, Van Morrison, Fleet Foxes, The Beatles, all Motown, to name a few bands.