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Interview with conductor Cristian Măcelaru, awarded at the Radio România 95 Gala

Monday, 6 November 2023 , ora 10.31

On the 1st of November, the Radio România Gala celebrated the radio's 95th anniversary at Sala Radio in Bucharest. During the event, the best performances in 12 fields were awarded. In the category of "Ambassadors of Romania," the award was givento conductor Cristian Măcelaru for his tireless promotion of Romanian music within and beyond Romania's borders. Furthermore, his exceptional attention to young musicians at the beginning of their journey, whether speaking of soloists, ensemble members, or even conductors, did not go unnoticed. And, of course, let's not forget his dedicated efforts as artistic director for the musical marathon in September, the International Festival "George Enescu".

Joining us live on the phone, we have maestro Cristian Măcelaru. Good morning and, first of all, congratulations on this award!

Good morning and thank you!

Last night, your message upon receiving the award was conveyed by
Cristina Comandașu, the manager of Radio România Muzical - an emotionalmessage that resonated not just with us, but with the entire world of classical music. How did you receive the news, and what were the first images to flashin your mind upon being bestowed with the title "Ambassador of Romania"?

I was truly thrilled! It came as a surprise because all the nominees for the "Ambassador of Romania" award are individuals who accomplished extraordinary feats, significantly improving Romania's image within and beyond its borders - an image of beauty and richness that can be witnessed from different perspectives. To put it frankly, I wasn't expecting to win, considering I'm one of the youngest nominees for this award. My career and life are still unfolding. But the responsibility I undertake, to be an ambassador of Romanian culture… I see it as a responsibility because I believe it's important to embrace these opportunities to show the world the beauty existing in Romania, which is an integral part of our identity as a nation. In music,art and culture, the most profound identity is always found, constructed through many generations, each contributing a small brick to an extraordinary artistic and cultural moment.And now, we are fortunate to bask in the grandeur of this crown that is Romanian culture,music, andfolklore. That's why my foremost joy springs from having something to share with the world, and I owe it to the thousands and millions of people and artists who have, above all, created this beautiful masterpiece represented by Romania's culture, music and art. It's something I can proudly showcase to the world beyond our borders.

You have a close connection with the public radio in general, and with Radio România Muzical in particular. I would like you to talk a bit about the importance of radio in today's world.

Absolutely! The first institution to invite me to conduct in Romania was the radio's institution, through the National Orchestra, which was the very first orchestra I conducted in Romania. My collaboration with the musicians and this orchestra has continued since. It's extremely important, especially in a time like this, where the most powerful voice in society often hinges on fleeting popularity! If we take a look at social media or what is heavily promoted online, it's exactly what sells the easiest. Art and culture have never been something that could be easily sold because they require a deeper investment from us as individuals, in order to discover something much more profound in return. And regarding the importance of the radio, the significance of this institution celebrating 95 years of activity, is even more valid and relevant today. This is because it is an institution that doesn't focus solely on fleeting popularity, but delvesinto substance, into a profound essence. It aims to provide all citizens, all people who want to benefit and understand things at a deeper level, with something meaningful and enduring.

…they focus on quality not on quantity…

Exactly! It's highly important to have these things in our society! That's why the more quality there is out there, the more important it is to support the quality the radio produces.

This very morning, I listened to you on Radio România Muzical, in the "Blue Room" - a segment you contribute to once every two weeks. You shared a wonderful story about Rachmaninoff. You speak with such passion, sensitivity, and enthusiasm about this composer's music that one couldn't help but be captivated and tune in to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 (the final part). So, you're also a natural storyteller; there are music lovers eagerlywaitingfor the "Blue Room" segment. In this context, I would like to ask how you feel in your role as a radio personality and how you perceive the support of public radio in your endeavors?

It's once again an extraordinary opportunity for me and a chance to share what I live and love so deeply - the music I conduct. The fact that the radio gives me the possibility to reach as many ears and as many hearts as possible, enabling them to receive the musical gift I offer and understand the beauty of music... I wish for every person to have the opportunity to hear a concert, like Rachmaninoff's, for example, at least once in their lifetime, to grasp the beauty that exists in those moments. Music isn't something concrete, that you can hold in your palm; it's meant to uplift our spirits. And this can only be achieved when you open your heart and accept the musical gift that we artists present. Then, we can unite our spirits and elevate ourselves at the same time to discover this extraordinary beauty. The fact that I can talk about this and encourage as many people as possible to open their hearts and receive this beauty, this gift, is an extraordinary opportunity for me. I am immensely grateful to the radio for granting me this chance and possibility to do so.

Concluding the interview, I would like you to tell us about the "melomaniac" Cristian Măcelaru. Do you still find time to savor classical music on the radio, for instance, to enjoy certain radio recordings, whether conducted by you or not, with your family? Are there discussions in your family related to these auditions? I know both your wife and children are directly involved in the art of sound.

Absolutely! Music is a constant presence in our home, and I am deeply passionate about everything that has been documented and recorded. There is an immense wealth of orchestras within the context of radio institutions all across Europe. This collection of sounds, concerts that have been recorded and broadcasted - and are now being retransmitted - represents an enormous treasure of global cultural heritage. For me, being able to go back in time and listen to a recording of an extraordinary conductor who has made a unique, personal interpretation... there are conductors who personally knew composers like Brahms or Mahler and then recorded these creations for radio... it's a vast richness of style, of musical understanding.That's why, in my household, music constantly fills the air. We listen to it - my children, my wife, and I - all the time, and it's such a beautiful, unique thing. Because beyond music, there are so many other things that might take our minds in different directions, evoke different feelings. But when - at least for me - a symphony starts playing on the radio, and someone tells me it's a unique recording that I might not have even known existed, it's so beautiful to discover these unseen things that speak so profoundly to the heart.

Interview by Liviu Pețu
Translated by Marian-Cătălin Niculăescu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu