Winner of the 2014 Solti Conducting Award and newly appointed music director and conductor of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (beginning in 2017), Cristian Măcelaru is conductor-in-residence of The Philadelphia Orchestra. He began his tenure with that ensemble as assistant conductor in September 2011, and in recognition of his artistic contributions to the Orchestra, his title was elevated to associate conductor in November 2012. In addition to supporting Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in important artistic projects, Mr. Măcelaru will conduct a subscription week each season, as well as educational and community programs and special concerts, and lead the ensemble in summer performances in Philadelphia and other venues. He made his Orchestra subscription debut in April 2013 stepping in unexpectedly in place of Jaap van Zweden. Mr. Măcelaru came to public attention in February 2012 when he conducted the Chicago Symphony as a replacement for Pierre Boulez in performances met with critical acclaim.
The 2016-17 season sees Mr. Măcelaru returning to the National Symphony and the symphony orchestras of St. Louis, San Diego, Milwaukee, Colorado, Detroit, and Vancouver. Internationally he leads the Bavarian Radio Symphony, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Gothenburg Symphony, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the WDR Sinfonieorchester, the Weimar Staatskapelle, the Halle Orchestra, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the New Japan Philharmonic with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist.
In summer 2016 Mr. Măcelaru made debuts at the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Wolf Trap Festival with the National Symphony, and at the Aspen Music Festival. Additionally, he returned to the Mann Center and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and to the Chautauqua Music Festival with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
In the 2015-16 season Mr. Măcelaru led subscription concerts with The Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the New World Symphony. His international appearances brought him to the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Mr. Măcelaru made his Carnegie Hall debut in February 2015 with the Danish National Symphony and Ms. Mutter. A keen opera conductor, he made his Cincinnati Opera debut in June 2015 in performances of Verdi’s Il trovatore. In 2010 he made his operatic debut with Houston Grand Opera in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and led the U.S. premiere of Colin Matthews’s Turning Point with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra as part of the Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival. In 2019 he returns to the Houston Grand Opera for a Kasper Holten production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
In addition to being appointed the 2014 Solti Fellow, Mr. Măcelaru previously received the 2012 Sir Georg Solti Emerging Conductor Award, a prestigious honor only awarded once before in the Foundation’s history. He has participated in the conducting programs of the Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival, studying under David Zinman, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Oliver Knussen, and Stefan Asbury. Mr. Măcelaru’s main studies were with Larry Rachleff at Rice University, where he received master’s degrees in conducting and violin performance. He completed undergraduate studies in violin performance at the University of Miami.
An accomplished violinist from an early age, Mr. Măcelaru was the youngest concertmaster in the history of the Miami Symphony and made his Carnegie Hall debut with that orchestra at age 19. He also played in the first violin section of the Houston Symphony for two seasons. Formerly he held the position of resident conductor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he was music director of the Campanile Orchestra, assistant conductor to Mr. Rachleff, and conductor for the Opera Department. A proponent of music education, Mr. Măcelaru served as a conductor with the Houston Youth Symphony, where he also conceptualized and created a successful chamber music program. As the founder and artistic director of the Crisalis Music Project, Mr. Măcelaru spearheaded a program in which young musicians performed in a variety of settings, side-by-side with established artists. Their groundbreaking inaugural season produced and presented concerts featuring chamber ensembles, a chamber orchestra, a tango operetta, and collaborations with dancer Susana Collins, which resulted in a choreographed performance of Vivaldi/Piazzolla’s Eight Seasons.
Mr. Măcelaru resides in Philadelphia with his wife, Cheryl, and children, Beniamin and Maria.
Photo by Sorin Popa