Romanian Symphony Bringing Past and Future To Wharton Center

Jan 11, 2019

Conductor Cristian Macelaru speaks with WKAR's Jamie Paisley about his upcoming tour performance with the National Symphony of Romania at the Wharton Center in East Lansing.


This Sunday night, a group of musicians will take the stage at the Wharton Center. They are known as the National Symphony of Romania and according to Cristian Macelaru, the group’s conductor this weekend, they began about a decade ago thanks to a shared experience in a youth orchestra. One similar to the famed El Sistema method, which has become a model for childhood music education the world over.

"A lot of the original founders of this youth orchestra who are now in their 30s, I would say, or late-20's, early 30's." says Macelaru. "They had been trying to find ways to continue playing together because there was a bond that was formed. Now, what emerged from all of that is this National Symphony Orchestra of Romania, it's a great, wonderful group because all of them have jobs in major orchestras all around Europe, you know? And they get together for these beautiful projects and this is one of them."

One piece the National Symphony of Romania will play is a standard for them, the 1st Roumanian Rhapsody by Georges Enescu.

"The concert is really, from our point of view," explains the 38 year old conductor, "also celebrating not just this incredible orchestra, but it's also celebrating the tradition, the great tradition of classical music in Romania. And 100 years ago when Enescu was alive, all music and all great art was coming from France. The French influence was so strong. But then in the later part of the 20th century because also politically-speaking, Romania was so much under the Soviet influence, there was a huge heavy make-up of the Russian school."

Which is why Macelaru is bringing cellist Andrei Ionita, a Tchaikovsky Competition winner along with the National Symphony of Romania this weekend in East Lansing.

"The music, when he performs, it just transcends him to a different place." says Macelaru of Ionita. "And I remember the first time I watched him, I wasn't conducting, I went to see a concert with him playing the Elgar Cello concert, and I just, I left in tears, because it was the most, the most beautiful, I mean, it brought back images of, you know Jacqueline DuPre playing, you know? Like that sort of transformative experience."

Along with Ionita playing Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, conductor Cristian Macelaru’s program with the National Symphony of Romania will round out with music from Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier.

"Now, I think in the 21st century, everyone from Romania is certainly looking to the Germanic speaking countries, where I would say the focus of great classical music remains, you know, which is in Germany and this central European part of the world. So, in some ways I'm representing, or I was trying to represent the distant past, the recent past, and the future of who we are."

Cristian Macelaru leads the National Symphony of Romania this Sunday at 6:30pm in  the Wharton Center. Tickets and more information at WhartonCenter.com

National Symphony of Romania
Cristian Macelaru, conductor
Andrei Ioniţă, cello

Program:
Enescu: Romanian Rhapsody No.1
Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations
R.Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier Suite
Ravel: Bolero