Newly appointed Chief Conductor Designate of the WDR Sinfonieorchester, Cristian Măcelaru is one of the fast-rising stars of the conducting world. He takes on this new position at WDR, one of Europe’s leading orchestras, effective with the 2019/20 season.
Măcelaru is Music Director and Conductor of the internationally renowned Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. In August 2018, he leads his second season in premiere-filled programs of new works by an esteemed group of composers. Among the 2018 season’s highlights are 3 world premieres, a record-breaking 16 composers-in-residence, a stunning roster of international guest artists, and two special tributes to commemorate William Bolcom’s and John Corigliano’s respective 80th birthdays.
Cristian Măcelaru attracted international attention for the first time in 2012, when he stepped into the breach with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, deputizing for Pierre Boulez. In the same year, he received the “Solti Emerging Conductor Award” for young conductors, a prestigious honor only awarded once before in the Foundation’s history, followed in 2014 by the “Solti Conducting Award”. Since then, he has performed regularly at the podium of the best American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony and National Symphony Orchestra. A particularly close collaboration connects him with the Philadelphia Orchestra: Since his subscription debut in 2013, he has been on the podium of this orchestra over 100 times and served there for three seasons as Conductor-in-Residence. Prior to that, he was their Associate Conductor for two seasons and previously Assistant Conductor for one season from September 2011. He continues a close relationship with the orchestra in leading them on annual subscription programs and other special concerts.
Cristian Măcelaru made his Carnegie Hall debut in February 2015 on a program with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Anne-Sophie Mutter. A keen opera conductor, in June 2015 he led the Cincinnati Opera in highly acclaimed performances of Il Trovatore. In 2010, he made his operatic debut with the Houston Grand Opera in Madama Butterfly and led the U.S. premiere of Colin Matthews’s Turning Point with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra as part of the Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival. In 2019, he returns to the Houston Grand Opera on a Kasper Holten production of Don Giovanni.
In Europe, Măcelaru has been in great demand as a guest conductor with many well-known orchestras and festivals, among others the Bayerischen Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Hallé Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Danish National Symphony Orchestra.
The 2018/19 season sees Măcelaru make debuts with the Orchestre National de France, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP). He returns to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bayerischen Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, City of Birmingham Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Dresden Philharmonie, Hallé Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony and Detroit Symphony. In January 2019, he brings the National Symphony Orchestra of Romania on their first-ever tour to the United States in commemoration of Romania’s centennial, culminating a 7-city tour at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center in performances with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. On the opera front, he leads a Kasper Holten production of Don Giovanniat the Houston Grand Opera.
Cristian 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 the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, University of Miami in Florida and Rice University in Houston, where he studied conducting with Larry Rachleff. He then deepened his knowledge in Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival in masterclasses with David Zinman, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Oliver Knussen and Stefan Asbury.
Măcelaru was the youngest concertmaster in the history of the Miami Symphony Orchestra and made his Carnegie Hall debut with that orchestra at the age of 19. He also played in the first violin section of the Houston Symphony for two seasons.
He resides in Philadelphia with his wife Cheryl and children Beniamin and Maria.