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Mihai Constantinescu, the previous Artexim Director, was honored with the insignia of Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (“Order of Arts and Letters”)

Monday, 6 March 2023 , ora 11.11

Mihai Constantinescu, the previous Artexim Director, was honored with the insignia of Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres ("Order of Arts and Letters") for leading and developing the "George Enescu" International Festival. He was awarded by Laurence Auer, Ambassador of France to Romania. The ceremony took place yesterday, February 28th, at the Embassy of France in Bucharest. Cristina Comandasu, Radio Romania Music Manager, took down Mihai Constantinescu's speech at the event:

Your Excellencies, esteemed ladies and gentlemen,

The Embassy of France was joined by other embassies in contributing to the development of the "George Enescu" International Festival.

I would like to mention the support of the Embassy of Germany, of the United Kingdom, of Switzerland, who made the festival known to artists who didn't know much about Romania, about Enescu, about the launch of a new international event.

Also, the fact that the ambassadors attended the festival's concerts was a way of honoring the event, but also a personal joy for me and my team, but also for the artists.

I would also like to mention the support and implication of the public institutions.

Let us go back in time to the inception of the festival, which made everything possible. In April, 1990, Minister Andrei Plesu greenlit our proposal to renew the festival dedicated to George Enescu, in line with international standards. After its first edition in 1958, three years after the composer's passing, the festival had become one of the great cultural events worldwide.

Today we have invited three important Ministers: Mr. Plesu, Mr. Iorgulescu and Mr. Romascanu, whom we considered instrumental to the success of the 1991, 2007, 2017 and 2023 editions. Out of the 31 Ministers who have been appointed during my activity, I think about two other Ministers with respect and regret, namely Ion Caramitru and Razvan Theodorescu, both of whom greatly contributed to organizing the festival. And alongside them, the State Secretaries with whom we've worked closely, as in a sort of planning "engine room". At this point, I should also especially mention Mr. Victor Opaschi, Mr. Ioan Onisei and Mr. Andras Demeter.

From the very beginning, post-1989, the festival benefited from the President's high patronage, which had a positive impact on the relationships with the artists who performed in the event.

The Romanian Government understood the event's significance a bit later and became the festival's and competition's producer from 2001.

I can't overlook those who have contributed to the festival's development from the inside either. I would like to thank the festival's Art Directors and Honorary Presidents from the past 30 years, among which I mention Cristian Mandeal, Ludovic Spiess, Mihai Brediceanu, Lawrence Foster, Yehudi Menuhin, Roman Vlad, Ioan Holender, Wladimir Jurowski and Zubin Mehta, who had a special role in scaling the international dimension of the festival.

Thank you to those who, along the years, have helped create the festiva's image. Here I am talking about the Romanian Television Society, the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Society. Thank you to the cultural institutions who provided the festival with their unconditional support. I am referring to the "George Enescu" Philharmonic Orchestra, the National University of Music, the Bucharest National Opera House, the Radio Bands, The National Art Center "Tinerimea Romana" ("Romanian Youth") , the University of Bucharest, the Romanian Cultural Institute (with which we collaborated between 2007 and 2010), the Union of Composers and Musicologists from Romania, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania. I also thank all the artists and philharmonics who took part in the festival's concerts.

Thank you to the music critics who translated music for us and the audience, and helped us become better.

There's a special place for our contributors, the youth for whom this festival was like a school of life, where they learned how to start their journey in cultural management.

I would also like to thank the sponsors for helping us develop the festival. They are represented by Rompetrol, the oldest sponsor that supported us unwaveringly.

This festival wouldn't have been possible without its audience. I purposely left them for the end, not because they are unimportant, but because, just as artists bow to the audience members at the end, I also wanted to salute them only after trying to succinctly convey the complexity of the work and of the collaborations which made the festival possible. I am grateful to the audience for applauding and for being open to the "George Enescu" Festival experience. If it wasn't for their attendance, we wouldn't have anything to talk about today.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I don't regret the hard work, the endless hours of negotiations and planning, the adrenaline... There is something else I regret. The fact that I did not do more to make Romanian artists be better known and appreciated in European countries - in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland - and that I did not manage to convince the 31 ministers to provide the Romanian public with a concert hall to match the festival.

Prof. Dr. Arch. Romeo Belea has been working on a project for it since 2003 which, to this day, we have not been able to complete, unfortunately. I hope that this dream, which is shared by thousands of audience members and artists, will come true. Bucharest deserves a western-level concert hall, as does the festival.

I leave the festival after bringing it to international standards, after making it known worldwide for its high artistic level, for its reliability, fairness and professionalism.

I would like to thank Cristina Uruc and maestro Cristian Macelaru for accepting to take over managing the festival on the executive direction side and on the artistic direction side, respectively.

I have fulfilled my duty to ensure a smooth transition, by continuing to provide artistic and logistical consultancy for the 2023 edition programme.

I would like to thank you, those who are present here, for participating in this event, which is a special moment in my life. I feel honored and overwhelmed, especially since tonight I left backstage - where you have seen me many times - and became a soloist myself.

I hope to see you again every autumn at the future editions of the "George Enescu" Festival and Competition. Thank you!

Translated by Ioana Diana Sandu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu