“After full immersion in the first weekend of Cabrillo’s talks, discussions, and the brilliant, complex and technically superb music making, it seems evident that Macelaru is an ideal match for this important festival. He said he adores Santa Cruz and the warm, open reception the community has given him.
Watching Cristi at the podium last weekend, there can be no doubt…he is a consummate master of this realm, a daredevil maybe, but one who knows exactly how fast to take the hairpin curves, when to ease the pace and reengage full throttle. It’s an exhilarating ride and returns you to your seat in one piece, probably changed a little from the journey.”
—Santa Cruz Sentinel
music director + conductor
GRAMMY® Award-winning conductor Cristian Măcelaru is Music Director of the Orchestre National de France, Chief Conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Interlochen Center for the Arts’ World Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director and Conductor of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.
The 2021/22 season marks Măcelaru’s second season as Music Director of the Orchestre National de France and his third season as Chief Conductor at the WDR Sinfonieorchester. He makes guest appearances this season with the DSO Berlin, NDR Hamburg, Bamberg Symphony, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and National Symphony Orchestra Washington. Previous guest appearances this season included the Bayerische Staatsoper and the Monte Carlo Philharmonic.
Summer 2022 marks Măcelaru’s third season as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen where he will lead Wynton Marsalis’s “Blues Symphony” and his sixth season at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the world’s leading festival dedicated to contemporary symphonic repertoire.
Măcelaru is in great demand as guest conductor with many reputable orchestras worldwide, among others the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Dresdner Philharmonie, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Cristian Măcelaru attracted international attention for the first time in 2012, when he stepped into the breach with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, deputizing for Pierre Boulez. In the same year, he received the “Solti Emerging Conductor Award” for young conductors, followed in 2014 by the “Solti Conducting Award”. Since then, he has performed regularly at the podium of the best American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony and National Symphony Orchestra. A particularly close collaboration connects him with the Philadelphia Orchestra: Since his debut in April 2013, he has been on the podium of this orchestra over 150 times and served there for three seasons as Conductor-in-Residence.
In 2020, Măcelaru received his first-ever GRAMMY® Award for conducting the Decca Classics recording of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Cristian Măcelaru was born in Timișoara, Romania and comes from a musical family. As the youngest of ten children, he received instrumental lessons at an early age – like all his siblings – in his case on the violin. His studies took him from Romania to the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, University of Miami in Florida and Rice University in Houston, where he studied conducting with Larry Rachleff. He then deepened his knowledge at Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival in masterclasses with David Zinman, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Oliver Knussen and Stefan Asbury.
Măcelaru was the youngest concertmaster in the history of the Miami Symphony Orchestra and made his Carnegie Hall debut with that orchestra at the age of 19. He also played in the first violin section of the Houston Symphony for two seasons.
Cristian resides in Bonn with his wife Cheryl and children Beniamin and Maria.
Photos by Adriane White (top) and Crystal Birns (circle)