Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Names Cristian Măcelaru as Next Music Director

Mӑcelaru Will Become Fourteenth Music Director of the CSO Beginning in the 2024-25 Season

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CINCINNATI, OH (April 24, 2024)—The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO), the oldest and first orchestra in Ohio, has appointed conductor Cristian Mӑcelaru as the 14th Music Director in the Orchestra’s 129-year history, succeeding Louis Langrée. Mӑcelaru will begin his five-year term as Music Director in the 2024-25 season, serving as Music Director Designate in the first year of his term.

Grammy Award-winning conductor Cristian Mӑcelaru is currently the Music Director of the Orchestre National de France; Artistic Director of the George Enescu Festival and Competition in Bucharest, Romania; and Chief Conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester in Cologne, Germany, where he will serve through the 2024-25 season and continue as Artistic Partner for the 2025-26 season. In the United States, Mӑcelaru serves as the 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 in Santa Cruz, California. Born in Romania and educated in the United States, he received training at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, followed by the University of Miami and Rice University, before becoming a naturalized American citizen in 2019.

“We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Cristian Mӑcelaru as the Orchestra’s next Music Director,” said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Board Chair Dianne Rosenberg. “In addition to his exceptional artistry, collaborative spirit and strong leadership of orchestras around the world, including in the United States, Cristian understands and embraces the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s vision to become the most relevant orchestra in America. We look forward to the CSO’s bright future under Cristian’s leadership.”

“I am overjoyed and humbled by the opportunity to become Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra,” said Mӑcelaru. “The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has consistently upheld a well-proven standard of artistic excellence and innovation, in combination with a unique focus on the community it serves. The invitation to lead the superb musicians who form this Orchestra, building an even stronger legacy together, is only enhanced by the warmth and closeness of the community that I’ve experienced in Cincinnati. It is with deep respect to my predecessors and commitment to the Orchestra’s future that I look forward to sharing the wonderful music we make with the greater Cincinnati community and the world.”

Through his titled positions, Mӑcelaru has catalyzed partnerships and artistic collaborations on an international level. As Music Director of Orchestre National de France and Chief Conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester, he regularly appears at the music capitals of Europe, such as Berlin, Paris and Vienna, and works with top soloists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Daniil Trifonov, Julia Fischer and Renaud Capuçon. Further embracing the universal language of music across continents, Măcelaru recently completed a tour in China with the WDR Sinfonieorchester and will take Orchestre National de France on a tour of South Korea and China in 2025.

A champion of commissioning and premiering the music of today, Mӑcelaru has commissioned premieres from 52 composers across his titled positions in Paris, Cologne and Cabrillo. This illustrious group of composers includes Wynton Marsalis, Tan Dun, Gabriela Lena Frank, Jennifer Higdon, Jake Heggie, Nico Muhly, Sean Shepherd and Gabriella Smith.

Mӑcelaru has recorded on all major labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca Classics, Sony Classical and Warner Classics and has just released an all-Enescu cycle on Deutsche Grammophon. He won a Grammy Award for conducting the 2019 Decca Classics recording of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

An educator at heart, Mӑcelaru is devoted to broadening orchestral audiences through music education. He dedicates significant time to mentoring young musicians through the Cabrillo Conductors/Composers Workshop, which brings together members of the orchestra and leading faculty with early career conductors and composers; a community-based approach to arts and cultural education at the Interlochen Center for the Arts; annual conducting masterclasses in Timișoara with the Romanian Chamber Orchestra; a new series of concerts for children as part of an initiative to enrich the George Enescu Festival; a week-long residency as part of the 2024 Enescu Competition of masterclasses and public discussions, meant to bring a more intense focus on arts education; and this season, a residency at the Kronberg Academy in Germany.

Motivated by a deep commitment to building community through the arts, Măcelaru has led a number of initiatives to encourage greater equality, diversity and inclusivity across the orchestral landscape. As Artistic Director of Romania’s George Enescu Festival and Competition, he has increased invitations for women conductors, dedicated programs for families and mental and physical well-being sessions for Competition participants. Through a historic collaboration with organizations including Romania’s Special Olympics, Măcelaru and the Festival are striving to modernize Romania’s concert halls to make them more accessible.

As the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s next Music Director, Mӑcelaru will join a distinguished line of conductors including Frank Van der Stucken (1895-1907), Leopold Stokowski (1909-1912), Ernst Kunwald (1912-1917), Eugène Ysaÿe (1918-1922), Fritz Reiner (1922-31), Eugene Goossens (1931-1946), Thor Johnson (1947-1958), Max Rudolf (1958-1970), Thomas Schippers (1970-1977), Michael Gielen (1980-1986), Jesús López Cobos (1986-2001), Paavo Järvi (2001-2011) and Louis Langrée (2013-2024), who will become Music Director Laureate at the conclusion of his tenure.

“We are excited to welcome Cristian Mӑcelaru as our next Music Director,” said Stefani Matsuo, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster and one of five musicians on the Music Director Search Committee. “Each interaction with Cristian, on and off the stage, has been warm and collaborative, like reuniting with an old friend. He has a deep knowledge of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s legacy and a clear vision for music and its place in a vibrant arts community like Cincinnati’s. He stretches us as musicians, drawing out new dimensions of sounds and textures, and inspires us as people. There’s a genuine admiration and mutual respect between the CSO musicians and Cristian, and it’s clear we are going to be great partners in this next chapter of our story.”

Mӑcelaru first conducted the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for Cincinnati Opera’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore in 2015. He later made his Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra debut on the January 22 and 23, 2016 subscription program, conducting the world premiere of Gunther Schuller’s Symphonic Triptych alongside Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Julia Wolfe’s riSE and fLY, featuring percussionist Colin Currie. In April 2018, Mӑcelaru returned to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to lead a subscription program of Leonard Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town, Bernstein’s Divertimento for Orchestra, Charles Ives’ Three Places in New England and George Gershwin’s Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra with Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Mӑcelaru most recently conducted the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in February 2024, when he led a program that included Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto, featuring Kian Soltani, and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11.

“Cristian’s rehearsals and performances of the Lutosławski and Shostakovich were real stand outs,” said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Principal Timpani and member of the Music Director Search Committee Patrick Schleker. “He is a natural leader who can seamlessly transition from moments of intense focus to moments of levity, and he achieved excellent results with great efficiency.”

“Cristian listens and hears everything, and it was evident in rehearsals. He knew what he wanted, and from the moment he stepped on the podium, he exuded a reassuring confidence and emotional sensitivity that carried us along with him," said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Principal Horn and member of the Music Director Search Committee Elizabeth Freimuth. “The performances in February were captivating from beginning to end and pure joy to perform.”

As Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Designate, Mӑcelaru returns on February 8 & 9, 2025 to conduct the Orchestra in Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World; Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Ernest Chausson’s Poème, both with violin soloist Randall Goosby; and Wynton Marsalis’ “Southwestern Shakedown” from Blues Symphony.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Board Members and Co-Chairs of the Music Director Search Committee Peter Landgren and Sheila Williams said: “Cristian Mӑcelaru is intense in terms of his work and passionate about music and its ability to transcend almost any boundary. His passion is tempered by an open and adventurous spirit that radiates through every interaction whether on or off the stage. There is a palpable warmth whenever he is on the podium, and that energy has lasting power that remains with you long after a performance.”

Cristian Mӑcelaru is an extraordinary musician, conductor and community builder who understands the power of music to change lives,” said CSO President & CEO Jonathan Martin. “It’s been inspiring to witness his talent and immediate connection with our musicians and audiences, and there is no question in my mind that Cristian will build upon the great work of his predecessors and take the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra into an exciting new era of music-making and international stature while maintaining a deep commitment to serving the entire Cincinnati community.”

Co-chaired by Landgren and Williams, the Music Director Search Committee was comprised of CSO musicians, CSO Board members and volunteer leaders from the community.

Read Cristian Mӑcelaru's Biography

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