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RRM 25 - Interview with conductor Cristian Măcelaru

Thursday, 17 March 2022 , ora 9.05

Mr. Cristian Măcelaru, thank you for the opportunity to talk about an event that is undoubtedly happy in the story called Radio Romania Muzical. We are 25 years old, an age that is largely a history in which we have tenaciously followed your activity from the moment you assert yourself as a young star in the American space and until the current European consecration, when, here you are and constant collaborator of this only classical music station in Romania. I want to ask you, for you, what has Radio Romania Muzical meant all this time and what does it represent at the moment?

It is true and I am glad to say that my first collaboration in Bucharest came as a result of a program that was broadcast from Philadelphia, it was also broadcast in Romania, and there was also my name among the producers of that concert; and in this way the people from Radio România Muzical noticed my name, which of course is very easy to understand because it is Romanian and then they contacted me and sent me an invitation to come to the National Radio Orchestra and in this way I arrived in Bucharest, now, I don't even remember, maybe 10 years already.

I think exactly 10 years.

Exactly 10 years. And since then it has remained a very close collaboration in which I also tried to respond to the numerous invitations I received, not only from the National Radio Orchestra but also in other ways, in other ways in which I was able to contribute to Radio România Muzical programs. And this, the fact that it is a 25th anniversary of the only classical music station in Romania, makes me happy, but at the same time it makes me want even more, because I believe that classical music, the music that I conduct is very close to my heart and is very necessary in society. And a society that values culture, that values classical music is a society mature enough to understand the beauty it can leave for our children, for our descendants who will come after us. I believe that this transformation is made more beautiful through music, culture and classical music that Radio România Muzical broadcasts and constantly transmits.

Are you convinced that this transformation is an immediate one or does it take time, time to produce?

That's a very good question. Of course, it cannot be an immediate transformation, because the deeper the art, the more time it takes to absorb it, and classical music is an extraordinarily profound art that represents hundreds and thousands of years of human experience which composers bring to their attention when composing a musical work. They bring this experience of hundreds and thousands of years of our whole community and put it on sound waves, to convey an emotion, to convey a feeling, to transmit a certain emotional vibration, which we then understand. And this process makes us aware, being in fact the point where we are transformed. So it takes a long time for this to transform society.

Of course, you also have an American experience in the United States, with classical music stations having a notable presence. I am also convinced that, at least when you drive if you do, or when you are in the car, you also listen to classical music stations all over Europe, and so you have a complex picture of this radio phenomenon from the perspective of classical music. How is Radio România Muzical placed in this landscape, how do you see it? And I certainly don not ask you to praise us, of course.

Classical music, especially transmitted by radio waves, you should know that it has several purposes. First and foremost, it is not intended to present live concerts, this is a distinction that I want to make, because it is so important that the music that is broadcast on the radio actually offers something of the taste of a concert, which is much different in itself from the way it is perceived through the radio. This is one of the purposes of radio. Then the second is simply the pleasure of listening to music. Unfortunately, when I drive a car, I can't listen to classical music, because immediately my instinct as a music critic is felt and then I can't concentrate on the road. That's why I prefer to listen to news or listen to podcasts or something like that, but it's a very important thing to understand that a second purpose of radio in terms of classical music is access to the simple pleasure of music, and then one thing and more important for me is the fact that we don't know, those people who select music, those who present programs, present concerts, choose concerts from all over Europe, from all over the world, to be broadcast on Radio România Muzical, those people In a great effort to find a way to open our eyes, to open our hearts by presenting fascinating things, new things, not necessarily to return to the same music, to the same musical work; and it is important to have this understanding and this acceptance that those people, experts in what they do, are actually opening up our horizons, which we don't even know can be broadened. That is why it is very important to understand from all angles what is so important and beneficial role in the society of a classical music radio station.

The whole area of the media is challenged to redefine itself by the new means made available by the internet, especially the radio, because it is one of the oldest means of mass media. You, like us, benefited from the partnership between Cristian Măcelaru, the Romanian Chamber Orchestra and Radio România Muzical, we were the co-producers of that project which also materialized in a recording. We are more and more present in the online environment. It is mandatory to be attuned to modernity. On the other hand, is classicism, in the sense of traditional radio, a matter of the past from your point of view?

I will give you the same answer I give myself towards the moment when the camera was invented.Have paintings become less important? For me, it's the same thing, because what can be a collaboration with a classical music radio means much more than the personal access we can have to classical music. That is why I insist on this point of view: those who put that music on the radio are people who have dedicated their work, life, expertise to choose what is most important, but also to choose things that we still know nothing about. That is why it is true that we have access to enormous information on the Internet and in the digital world, but how do we choose that information? It's the same idea, as we say that a library is no longer relevant in the digital world, when in fact it is much more relevant, because it teaches us how to search, it teaches us how to discover, it leads us on this path to delve into art, in culture, in music. And a real radio station for classical music leads us hand in hand in the discovery of art, in the discovery of classical music, while the digital world is a very vast universe, in which we can find absolutely anything. It's a discovery that, while true, can be fascinating, but at the same time, it can be dangerous, because things that are not necessarily necessary or beneficial to classical music get in our way, and that's why it's important to have confidence. That's why we go to a museum to see a painting. We don't just look at the internet. There are certain points in society that are meant and have this mission to create and maintain the quality of the art that we experience and that we receive in everyday life.

Around the anniversary of Radio România Muzical we have the joy of conducting a concert at the Radio Hall, in which AlexandruTomescu will be the soloist, the other columnist permanently invited to Radio Romania Muzical. How do you feel about this event and what do you want our station to do for the next 25 years?

First of all, I'm so glad I was able to accept the invitation. I have a relationship that goes back, already 10 years, with the National Radio Orchestra, an orchestra that I really want to remain relevant. I meet a lot of conductors who talk to me about the 60's and 70's, when they came to the National Radio Orchestra with joy, and this makes me feel so proud and so happy about this orchestra. It is an ensemble with an extraordinary potential, it is an orchestra full of valuable musicians and I really want this orchestra, hand in hand with the Radio that broadcasts all the concerts, that promotes what its members do, to remain of national importance. And I want the same for the next 25 years in terms of Radio România Muzical. It is a very necessary thing in society. Unfortunately, as always, the most important things we have, which we receive, in a way for free, we only miss when we no longer have them. I say that it is important to learn from other examples that we have had in life and not to look in this direction. And on this anniversary, when we celebrate Radio România Muzical, let us renew the attention and interest we pay as a society to this classical music station, which for me is essential in our society. It is so important in creating a beautiful society that we can have. For me, music gives us the opportunity to dream for the better, to dream for the better, and this is a big part of our lives as people, where it is important to be able to see what the ideal of a beautiful can be. It is important to have this vision. Music for me it does this, and Radio România Muzical helps me to discover it every day.

Interview by Ștefan Costache
Translated by Elena Patricia Măroiu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu