New World Symphony pulled conductor Măcelaru due to coronavirus fears

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Cristian Măcelaru was scheduled to conduct the New World Symphony Saturday night in Miami. Photo: Thomas Brill

The COVID-19 coronavirus had its first public impact on South Florida’s classical scene last weekend when the New World Symphony pulled conductor Cristian Măcelaru from Saturday night’s concert at the Arsht Center in Miami due to the fact that he had recently returned from Japan.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the New World Symphony felt it was prudent for Cristian Măcelaru not to conduct the concert [Saturday] night after learning of his recent travels to Japan which is designated at level two re the coronavirus by the CDC,” the orchestra, said in a statement released by a spokeswoman.

Măcelaru, 39, had conducted a Beethoven program with the New Japan Philharmonic on February 20 at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. The soloists were Anne-Sophie Mutter, Daniel Müller-Schott, and Lambert Orkis. The Romanian conductor then took part in a school orchestra event at Rice University in Houston on February 29.

The odd thing is Măcelaru doesn’t have the coronavirus, as his representative confirmed on Monday.

“Cristian is healthy and well, and he does not have coronavirus,” said the conductor’s representative, Charlotte Lee on Monday in an emailed statement, adding that Măcelaru was tested and the results were negative.

Lee noted that there was no quarantine advisory yet in place for people who had traveled to Japan at the time of the February Tokyo concert and immediately after. And while Măcelaru doesn’t have COVID-19, she said the conductor understands the abundance of caution.

“We understand that these are extraordinary circumstances and everyone responds in different ways,” said Lee. “When you are a large institution responsible for the well-being of your performers and your audience members, it is understandable at these times to want to put extra precautionary measures in place.

“Cristian would have loved to perform but these things happen. . . While disappointed, we agreed with the orchestra’s decision for the concert to carry on without him, with everyone’s peace of mind being the upmost priority.”

The New World Symphony failed to respond to questions about whether Măcelaru had conducted rehearsals this week and when the decision was made, nor provide any information beyond its official statement.

Măcelaru’s week in Miami wasn’t totally wasted. The University of Miami graduate was presented with a Distinguished Alumni Award at UM’s Frost School of Music. The conductor also recently won a Grammy for his recording of Wynton Marsalis’s Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti.

The acutely viral nature of COVID-19 continues to affect the classical music world, which is vulnerable due to its large concert venues and the constant international travel of musicians.

Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco announced Friday that it was closing its doors through March 20 in order “to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” That meant the cancellation of several events including a San Francisco Symphony program led by Michael Tilson Thomas. 

Over the weekend Australian composer Brett Dean confirmed that he had contracted the coronavirus and was hospitalized in Adelaide.

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One Response to “New World Symphony pulled conductor Măcelaru due to coronavirus fears”

  1. Posted Mar 10, 2020 at 7:09 pm by Sofia Santiesteban

    Thank you for the information otherwise we were on the dark.

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Mon Mar 9, 2020
at 2:52 pm
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