Cristian Macelaru commences his inaugural season as Chief Conductor of WDR Sinfonieorchester in September 2019 (Photo credit: WDR)
WDR Sinfonieorchester announced their 2019/20 season yesterday in a press conference in Cologne where they introduced our conductor Cristian Macelaru to WDR patrons and media! This marks Macelaru’s inaugural season as Chief Conductor of the orchestra and an exciting milestone in the WDR’s esteemed history.
The season features clarinetist and composer Jörg Widmann as Artist-in-Residence; guest conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Manfred Honeck, Tan Dun, Krzysztof Urbański and Marek Janowski; violinists Frank Peter Zimmermann, Ray Chen, Augustin Hadelich and Patricia Kopatchinskaja; pianists Seong-Jin Cho, Igor Levit and Alice Sara Ott; and percussionist Martin Grubinger.
Macelaru leads programs that include masterpieces by Dvorak, Mahler, Strauss and Stravinsky such as Dvorak’s Te Deum, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Mahler Symphony No. 4 and works by living composers including Sean Shepherd, György Kurtág, Avner Dorman, Gabriella Smith and Karim Al-Zand plus a concerto written together by three composers Nico Muhly, Sven Helbig and Zhou Long.
WDR Interview with Cristian Măcelaru:
Q: Let’s start with a simple question, Cristian. What does music mean to you?
A: Music is a huge part of what I am and what defines me. In addition to language, music gives me the opportunity to communicate with others and to express emotions. That’s the simple answer.
Q: And the difficulty?
A: Is in the essence of the thing itself. As soon as I choose the way through the music, the experience for the audience is extremely complex. Almost automatically more levels are created.
Q: Neurological research speaks of a direct relationship between musical communication and spirituality.
A: Music expands our consciousness like no other art. This can be understood as something spiritual. Or let’s put it another way: Music even connects us to the universe in the best moments.
Q: And yet you are standing at the podium and are quite alone there.
A: Not at all. For me, performing music is always a direct interaction of audience, musicians and conductors. My job is to enable the orchestra to convey music in its simplest form, in its most primordial essence. It is important to me to point out the existential questions which composers of all generations have asked. We artists act as mediators between the works and the experiences of the audience. In this respect, I am always in the best of company and not alone.
Q: Let’s take a look forward to the new season. Gustav Mahler will be part of your new beginning.
A: At the start of my first season, the WDR Symphony Orchestra and I take our listeners on a journey that lets us experience all the ups and downs of our existence. My task in my inaugural concert is to make the audience experience the emotional and intellectual worlds of Gustav Mahler. I am sure that the concert visitors find themselves in many places in Mahler’s works. I have to find a way to make the diversity of these emotional worlds clear to the public.
Q: And the communication goes both ways.
A: Absolutely. When music awakens emotions and the audience reflects them, something bigger always happens.
WDR Interview with WDR Sinfonieorchester Managing Director Siegwald Bütow:
Q: The season 2019/20 of the WDR Symphony Orchestra will be particularly exciting, promises Siegwald Bütow, the manager of the orchestra in an interview. With the new Chief Conductor Cristian Măcelaru, the Artist-in-Residence Jörg Widmann and “a broad and attractive concert program with innovative concert forms”.
What do you expect from Cristian Măcelaru, the new chief conductor?
A: A new chief conductor always means departure. Cristian Măcelaru and I have spent a lot of time together in recent months to come up with a common idea of what role a symphony orchestra can and should have for our society as part of a 21st-century media company. Of course we play concerts first and foremost. But with what attitude do we do this? What is the effectiveness of what we do? And for whom? For the individual? For the society? For certain groups? What should remain as it is? What do we want to change? So many questions. And our first season together is a first tentative answer to all these questions. And – I think – a balance between departure and continuity.
Q: As a rule, soloists of world rank are expected for an “artist in residence”. What is different about Jörg Widmann?
A: With Jörg Widmann we will for the first time bind an “artist in residence” for a longer period of time. The exciting thing about him is that as a clarinettist, conductor and composer he combines different perspectives on music in his person. And at the highest level. I see him as a “universalist” in the sense that he has a “360-degree view” of the music. This is what distinguishes his incredibly diverse compositional work as well as his work as an interpreter. Historical or contemporary, re-creating or recreating are for him less important categories than the question of authenticity and relevance.
Q: In order to develop and address a wider audience, the WDR Symphony Orchestra is always breaking new ground.
A: We as a modern symphony orchestra do not want to be museum-like. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible in our coverage area. For this we have developed a broad and attractive concert program with innovative concert forms such as “Musik im Dialog” or “WDR Happy Hour”. There are many common considerations and discussions with artists, as well as subscribers, concert goers and art lovers in general. The process of planning is incredibly complex and enriching. And when in the end a successful concert is celebrated and everyone – audience, orchestra, conductors and soloists – had a fulfilling evening, then we have done a lot right.
To access the WDR Sinfonieorchester Season Brochure, click here.
To read the WDR interview with Cristian Macelaru in German, click here.
To read the interview with WDR Sinfonieorchester Managing Director Siegwald Bütow in German, click here.