By Michael Caruso
In quick succession, Chestnut Hill Maestro Cristian Macelaru will conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra in two concerts at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Fairmount Park. The ensemble’s conductor-in-residence will lead the Philadelphians Tuesday, July 25, in “Space Odyssey” and Wednesday, July 26, in the “People’s Choice” program. Both concerts begin at 8 p.m.
Macelaru was born in Timisoara, Romania, to musical parents who met while they were both music students in that city. “My father plays the accordion, and my mother plays the flute,” he said.
“I was always interested in music,” Macelaru continued. “As the youngest of 10 children, all of whom studied music, I really didn’t know there was anything else other than music. So in a way, the choice was made for me before I was even born.”
Although the piano was the first instrument he played, Macelaru never studied it. “No,” he said, “my father decided for me that violin would be best since it’s easier than a piano to carry around. I started studying the violin when I was six.”
Macelaru explained that Romania has always had an excellent music education system that’s part of the public schools. “If one is gifted for music and wants to learn, there are special music schools in every major city. You receive private lessons, music theory and history classes from very early on. These create a great foundation for a successful career in music. I benefited tremendously from a program such as this at the Ion Vidu Music School in my hometown. My violin teachers were Radu Bozgan, Ildko Darida and Ioan Fernbach.”
Macelaru left Romania at the age of 17 to continue his musical studies at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. Studies there were followed at the University of Miami, Florida and Rice University in Houston, Texas. Macelaru continued studying the violin through graduate school in Miami. He formally switched to conducting as his major at Rice.
Macelaru taught at Rice University for three years after receiving his graduate degree. That position was followed directly by his engagement with the Philadelphia Orchestra. “It’s truly one of the most remarkable art-presenting institutions in the world,” he said. “The artistry with which the musicians perform as well as the professional achievements of each individual player make it a unique ensemble, easily ranked as one of the top in the world. It is not an opportunity that comes often, particularly at the start of one’s career.
“I first came as assistant conductor, which meant that I was playing a supporting role to the music director and all the guest conductors. I then went on to become associate conductor, which gave me a few conducting opportunities of my own. For the past three years, I have been conductor-in-residence, which means I have a special relationship with the Orchestra, performing several concerts with them every season, and creating projects ranging from subscription weeks to summer concerts at one of our summer venues.”
Macelaru augments his local dates with engagements throughout the world. Between September, 2016, and June, 2017, he led 30 different orchestras.
And why does he live in Chestnut Hill? “My wife and I immediately fell in love with Chestnut Hill. We love being on the avenue and visiting all the shops, restaurants and parks. We also love the historical feel of the old homes and cobblestone streets. It’s just such a beautiful place to be!”
The July 25 concert features the “Dawn” movement from Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra,” “The Heavens Are Telling” (with choir) from Haydn’s oratorio, “The Creation,” Williams’ “Hold Fast to Dreams” and “Adventures on Earth,” excerpts from Dvorak’s “Rusulka,” Puccini’s “Tosca” and Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” and the “Jupiter” movement (with accompanying video) from Holst’s “The Planets.”
The program for the “People’s Choice” concert was literally chosen by the orchestra’s audiences. It includes “Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” “Liszt’s “Les Preludes,” Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances” from the opera, “Prince Igor,” Wagner’s Overture to “Tannhauser,” and Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien.”
For ticket information call 1-800-645-3000 or visit www.MannCenter.org.
As part of its ongoing series, “Concerts at the Cathedral Basilica,” the Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul will present the San Francisco Boys Chorus Saturday, July 15. The choir will sing at the Vigil Mass at 5:15 p.m. and then perform a “free will” concert at 6:30 p.m.
Conducted by its director, Ian Robertson, the San Francisco Boys Chorus will perform during the concert music by Vivaldi, Ireland, Messager and Faure, as well as American gospel, spiritual and popular songs. The choir was founded in 1948 to provide trained singers for the San Francisco Opera, one of America’s leading opera companies. The chorus soon developed into one of the nation’s most accomplished music education and choral performance ensembles.
Robertson said, “We at the San Francisco Boys Chorus are thrilled to have the opportunity to perform in the splendid Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul and to share our music with its community.”
The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is located just off Logan Circle along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For more information, visit www.cathedralphilaconcerts.org
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