I didn’t do pre-concert research before the Youth Orchestra performance yesterday, but wasn’t expecting such an extraordinary showing. The musicians were phenomenal! Their complex program included Romanian, Russian, Italian, French, and Austrian composers, varying from rousing overtures to opera intermezzos, a bacchanale, marches, peasant dances, soulful violin solos, and soft, romantic pieces:
- Romanian Sabin Pautza – Romanian Medley
- Romanian Ciprian Porumbescu – Ballad Violin and Orchestra Soloist Valentin Șerban
- Romanian Constantin Dimitrescu – Peasant Dance Cello and Orchestra Soloist Ștefan Cazacu
- Italian Gioachino Rossini – Overture from Cotofana Hoaţă
- Italian Pietro Mascagni – Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
- French Camille Saint-Saëns – Bacchanale Samson and Dalila
- Italian Giacomo Puccini – Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut
- Russian Mikhail Glinka – Overture of Ruslan and Ludmila
- Austrian Johann Strauss II – Persian March, Tritsch-Tratsch Polka
About the Youth Orchestra
The Romanian Youth Orchestra is a member of the pre-professional European Federation of National Youth Orchestras or EFNYO. EFNYO’s 36 members “provide a platform for the exchange of expertise between Europe’s leading youth orchestras”.
The orchestra was created in 2008 by famous cellist and Professor Marin Cazacu. The orchestra “provides Romania’s brightest musicians a unique creative experience in their pursuit of musical excellence”. The young Romanian musicians have established themselves on the international scene and are “acclaimed as one of the world’s top ensembles”.
The orchestra’s academic program includes master classes and concerts. Members participate in the “joy of ensemble music-making” while they’re performing with sought-after soloists and led by famous conductors from Europe’s major orchestras. The ensemble has conducted sold-out concerts at the Romanian Athenaeum, “George Enescu” International Festival, and in Rome and Berlin.
Conductor Gabriel Bebeşelea
The conductor at yesterday’s performance was young, talented Gabriel Bebeşelea. In 2020, Bebeşelea became the Principal Conductor of “George Enescu” Philharmonic Orchestra. At the same time, he was also Chief Conductor of the Philharmonic of North Macedonia and Principal Conductor of the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra of Cluj-Napoca.
Bebeşelea has a “vibrant international career” conducting throughout Europe. He’s recorded several CDs, has “uncovered long forgotten or neglected musical masterpieces,” and is known as a “remarkable opera conductor”. Bebeşelea was the “youngest Principal Conductor in Romania” to hold that position at both the Romanian National Opera of Iaşi and the National Romanian Opera House of Cluj-Napoca.
In 2011, Bebeşelea was awarded a scholarship and internship at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, where he assisted the world’s most distinguished conductors. He won 1st prize at the “Lovro von Matačić” Conducting Competition (Zagreb 2015) and 1st prize in the Jeunesses Musicales Conducting Competition (Bucharest 2011). In 2018, Gabriel Bebeşelea obtained his PhD “summa cum laude” at the National University of Music Bucharest.
Violin Soloist Valentin Șerban
Valentin Șerban won grand prize in the Violin Final of the 2020-2021 George Enescu International Competition. His performance of Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 47 “brought the audience to a standing ovation at the Romanian Athenaeum”.
Șerban received his bachelor’s degree at Transylvania University in Brașov and obtained his master’s at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. He’s won national and international violin competitions in Romania and throughout Europe. Șerban has been a member of the Les Dissonances Orchestra in Paris since 2018, and is a guest concertmaster of the Youth Orchestra.
Cello Soloist Ștefan Cazacu
Cellist Ștefan Cazacu “grew up in a family of famous musicians” and achieved musical success at an early age. His talent is internationally recognized. He graduated from the Romanian National University of Music, Bucharest and completed his master studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. He’s won numerous prizes at competitions in Austria, Croatia, and Bucharest and performed solo recitals in Romania and throughout Europe.
Since the age of 15, he’s played a “collection cello” produced over 100 years ago in Turin Italy, by celebrated string-instrument maker Georg Ullman. The cello was a gift from his father, Marin Cazacu, one of Romania’s greatest cellists.
“In 2018, together with his father and sister, violinist Iulia Cazacu, he made his first Romanian nationwide tour entitled Three Times Classic. The event included his mother, flutist Constanţa Cazacu, as a special guest performer.”
Since 2011, Ștefan Cazacu collaborates with Violoncelissimo, an ensemble created by his father in 1992 to promote chamber music and young talented musicians. Violoncelissimo’s unique concerts have included as many as 100 cellists performing together at the same time.
“The Youth Orchestra provides Romania’s brightest musicians a unique creative experience in their pursuit of musical excellence.”
The performance was narrated in Romanian by Cristiana Sîrbu and Marin Cazacu. It was a great concert and an example of the uplifting, quality classical music available in Bucharest, a city of many talented musicians!