Currently Music Director of the Orchestre National de France in Paris, one of Europe’s leading orchestras, GRAMMY® Award winning conductor Cristian Măcelaru is Chief Conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester, 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 January 2020, Măcelaru received his first-ever GRAMMY® Award for conducting the Decca Classics recording of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
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 debut in April 2013, he has been on the podium of this orchestra over 150 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 2021/22 season marks Măcelaru’s third season as Chief Conductor at the WDR Sinfonieorchester. He makes guest appearances this season with including with the Bayerische Staatsoper, DSO Berlin, NDR Hamburg, Bamberg Symphony, Monte Carlo Philharmonic, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and National Symphony Orchestra Washington.
Summer 2021 will mark Măcelaru’s second season as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen and his Fifth season at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the world’s leading festival dedicated to contemporary symphonic repertoire. He leads premiere-filled programs of new works by an esteemed group of composers including Gabriela Lena Frank, Jake Heggie and Sean Shepherd.
September 2021 marks the beginning of the second season as Music Director of the Orchestre National de France in Paris – L’Orchestre National de France – the orchestra of all France.
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 Bonn with his wife Cheryl and children Beniamin and Maria.