Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
Cristian Macelaru and Johannes Moser both believe these words to be true.
Macelaru, tonight’s guest conductor, will be paired up with cello soloist and friend Moser at 8:15 p.m. in the Amphitheater, as the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra welcomes him as the third of eight potential music directors.
It will be the first of two guest appearances for Macelaru; he will conduct the CSO on Thursday with violin soloist Augustin Hadelich.
Born in Romania, Macelaru was the youngest concertmaster in the history of the Miami Symphony Orchestra as a 19 year old and, in 2012, received the Sir Georg Solti Emerging Conductor Award.
According to Macelaru, it was Chautauqua Institution leadership that first approached him asking if he would work with Moser. The two have performed with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, where Macelaru is the associate conductor, and the maestro immediately gave his approval.
Macelaru won’t call it luck, or even an advantage in the audition process to have Moser joining him onstage, but he acknowledged the familiarity can’t hurt his prospects.
“It’s more of an added bonus than anything,” Macelaru said. “I look at tonight as an opportunity to make great music — not an audition or a test I have to take. With Johannes, we just click as conductor and soloist. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a very wonderful experience.”
Moser will be performing Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129, by German composer Robert Schumann, a piece he estimates he’s performed more than 60 times in the last decade, including in Philadelphia with Macelaru.
“[Macelaru]’s ear for detail and mastery of tempo is always a big help,” Moser said. “I’ve known Cristian for a long time now. He’s a talented musician and I’ve always felt in good hands performing with him.
To Moser, Schumann’s cello concerto is a score that lends itself to constant evolution in unison with how the musician or concertgoer changes over time. He listens to past recordings of himself performing the concerto as part of his practice routine and says he can hear his own maturation within the score.
“It’s a piece that enhances personal change; it’s music you can grow with,” he said. “My hope is that the piece continues to develop along with myself and that I can continue to live through the music.”
Joining Schumann’s concerto in Macelaru’s Tuesday program are Johannes Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance No. 10” and Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 (From the New World), by Antonín Dvořák, a piece Macelaru calls “one of the strongest staples of symphonic repertoire.”
A constant goal for Macelaru is to develop symphonic programs where “the music informs each other and there is a known connection between each composer.”
In tonight’s case, the friendship between the elder Brahms and Dvořák is well publicized; the two first met when Dvořák won a composition competition of which Brahms was one of the judges. Schumann and his wife, Clara, had a more intimate, complex relationship with the German maestro, the result being a two-way influence Macelaru deems “absolutely incredible.”
Call it luck, fate or simply a happy coincidence that a conductor gets to join forces with a favored soloist for a potentially life-changing show. Macelaru sees it as just another day at the office.
“What we do lies simply in the realm of musical chemistry,” he said. “Whether it leads to more down the road won’t be on my mind onstage.”
As with each of the eight guest conductors this season, community members are invited to submit their thoughts on Macelaru to the Music Director Search Committee via a survey available on the CSO’s web page, CSOsearch.com.