The WDR Sinfonieorchester, one of Europe’s leading orchestras, has announced today that Cristian Măcelaru is to become their new Chief Conductor, effective with the 2019/2020 season. He will succeed current Chief Conductor, Jukka-Pekka Saraste – who has successfully led the orchestra for nine years – in September 2019.
“With Cristian Măcelaru, we have succeeded in gaining the services of an outstanding conductor who is in great demand all over the world. We are delighted to announce that this artist of the new generation will face the future together with our WDR Symphony Orchestra, which has achieved an outstanding international standard and reputation in recent years.” WDR General Director Tom Buhrow
Cristian is Music Director and Conductor of the internationally renowned Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, succeeding Marin Alsop to the post in 2016. He attracted international attention for the first time in 2012, when he stepped in for Pierre Boulez with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In the same year he received the Sir Georg Solti Award for young conductors, followed by the Solti Conducting Award in 2014. Since then, Cristian has performed regularly on the podium of the best American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestra. He has a particularly close connection with the Philadelphia Orchestra: since his debut in 2013, he has been on the podium more than 100 times and served there for three seasons as Conductor-in-Residence.
In Europe, he has been in great demand as a guest conductor with many well-known orchestras and festivals, including: Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk, Royal Concertgebouw, Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Danish National Symphony Orchestra. He has a wide repertoire ranging from classical and romantic to contemporary music.
“We expect a great deal from his European-American socialization because, on the one hand, his heart is full of the European spirit of classical music; while on the other, he has learned in America never to lose sight of the audience. His repertoire is diverse and he is very interested in communicating music to a wide audience” WDR Radio Director Valerie Weber
Măcelaru was born in Timișoara, Romania, and comes from a musical family. As the youngest of ten children, he received instrumental lessons at an early age – like all his siblings – in his case on the violin. His studies took him from Romania to Rice University in Houston, where he studied violin as well as conducting. He then deepened his knowledge in Tanglewood and Aspen through masterclasses with David Zinman, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Oliver Knussen and Larry Rachleff. He first appeared with the WDR Symphony Orchestra in February 2017.
“I’m deeply grateful for the invitation to join the wonderful WDR family. We shared memorable moments on stage that inspired us all to deepen our relationship, and with this in mind, I am extremely happy to begin my work as Chief Conductor. Together with the remarkable musicians and staff of the WDR Symphony we will continue to build on the outstanding artistic legacy left by my illustrious predecessors. We share an art form that is meaningful and through it, we are committed to enrich the community we serve. With our artistic excellence at the forefront, we are also exploring new ways to reach out to a greater audience who will benefit from the impact art can have in our lives.” Cristian Măcelaru
The WDR Sinfonieorchester has long-term associations with the chief conductors Christoph von Dohnányi, Gary Bertini and Semyon Bychkov. Under their guidance, the orchestra developed a speciality in fields such as Gustav Mahler’s symphonies, as well as the performance of works by Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Verdi and Wagner. The orchestra has frequently toured through Europe, America and Asia. From the 2010/11 season, Jukka-Pekka Saraste was engaged as chief conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester. The Finnish maestro put the music of his countryman Jean Sibelius in the limelight and created a Brahms cycle and Beethoven cycle which were hailed for beyond the region. Numerous first performances of commissioned works over the orchestra’s legacy have made contributions to the history of music and to the support of contemporary music. Great composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Luciano Berio, Hans Werner Henze, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel, Wolfgang Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Krysztof Penderecki performed their works with WDR Symphony Orchestra.