Former Chestnut Hill conductor to lead Cincinnati Symphony

by Michael Caruso
Posted 5/17/24



The Romanian-born conductor, Cristian Macelaru, who formerly lived in Chestnut Hill, has been named the incoming music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He …

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Former Chestnut Hill conductor to lead Cincinnati Symphony


The Romanian-born conductor, Cristian Macelaru, who formerly lived in Chestnut Hill, has been named the incoming music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He follows in the footsteps of such legendary maestros as Fritz Reiner and Leopold Stokowski.

Local classical music lovers will remember Macelaru from his stint with the Philadelphia Orchestra when he lived in Chestnut Hill. He was named assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2011. He was promoted to associate conductor in 2012, holding that post until 2014. He then served as conductor-in-residence through 2017.

 There’s also a “local connection” to Philadelphia with both Reiner and Stokowski. “Stoki” was the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1912 until 1936. For the next two seasons, he shared that post with his eventual full-time successor, Eugene Ormandy, who took over the full post in 1938 and held it until 1980. Reiner taught conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music from 1931 until 1941. Interestingly enough, both Ormandy and Reiner were Hungarian-born – as was George Szell, the legendary music director of the Cleveland Orchestra.

In 2017, Macelaru conducted the WDR Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble is, in simple terms, the Cologne Philharmonic of the city of Cologne, in the German state of Rhine-Westphalia.  With a population of 1.1 million, Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany and the site of one of Europe’s most famous Gothic cathedrals. 

 Like Frankfurt, Cologne’s radio/television station is extremely well-funded, which means that its online concerts, like Frankfurt’s, run without commercial breaks. Via YouTube, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing the 44-year-old Macelaru conduct the WDR Sinfonieorchester in standard repertoire such as Franz Schubert’s “Great” C major Symphony, Richard Strauss’s “A Hero’s Life,” Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, and in yet another “local connection,” both the Second and Third Symphonies of Sergei Rachmaninoff. The great Russian composer and pianist always maintained that whenever he wrote for orchestra he always thought of the famous “Philadelphia Sound” in his heart and soul.

 Macelaru’s style is, as it was when he worked in Philadelphia, strong yet sensitive. He conjures up vast volumes of tonal thunder when necessary, yet efficaciously cuts it back for the more intimate moments in the score.

 Speaking of the Cincinnati Symphony, Macelaru recently was quoted in The New York Times saying, “This is the one orchestra I really wanted to be with in America.” He was in China at the time conducting the WDR on tour. He will begin his tenure in Cincinnati with the 2025-26 season.

 Joint Choral Evensong

 Chestnut Hill’s two Episcopal parishes – St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. Paul’s – will join forces Sunday, May 19, at 5 p.m. for a joint Choral Evensong. The service will take place at St. Martin’s and will mark the Feast of Pentecost, often referred to as “the birthday of the Church.”

 St. Martin’s director of music and arts, Tyrone Whiting, will share playing and conducting duties with Andrew Kotylo, the director of music at St. Paul’s Church. The roster of music includes the setting of the Evensong staples “Magnificat” and “Nunc dimittis” by George Dyson from his Evening Service in D. Alongside these powerful settings of the “Song of Mary” and the “Song of Simeon” will be the “Preces” and “Responses” of John Reading, Sir Edward Elgar’s “The Spirit of the Lord,” and Friedell’s “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether.”

 “Collaboration in worship and community is an important part of life at St. Martin’s,” Whiting explained. “This Evensong follows a series of successful collaborative events, including recent Epiphany and Palm Sunday Evensongs with the historic Christ Episcopal Church, in Old City Philadelphia.”

 St. Martin’s is also hosting a series of Wednesday evening summer concerts at 7 p.m.: May 15 with Whiting at the piano; May 22 with vocalists from the Academy of Vocal Arts; May 29 with St. Martin’s own choir with special guests; and June 5 with the Fairmount String Quartet, musicians-in-residence at the church. 

 The parish will bring its music season to an important conclusion Sunday, June 9, at 5 p.m. with a “Pride Evensong.” Singers not already affiliated with the parish choir are invited to join in the celebration by emailing Whiting at

 Dinnerstein plays Mozart

 Dirk Brosse will conduct the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in concert Friday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 19, at 2:30 p.m., in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater.  This will be Brosse’s final concert with the ensemble as its music director. Come the fall of the 2024-25 season, David Hayes will return to Philadelphia to take up the Chamber Orchestra’s baton. 

 Brosse’s program will feature George Walker’s gorgeous “Lyric for Strings,” Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major, and W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488, with Simone Dinnerstein as the soloist. For more information call 215-545-1739 or visit

 You can contact NOTEWORTHY at