by Maria Ivanov

Saying “classical music from the Republic of Moldova” the name of master Eugen Doga, the most important composer of the country, instantaneously comes to mind. He began his artistic activity being a violoncelist, but due to a temporary paralysis of the left hand, occurred during his student years, he was unable to pursue his activity as a cellist and devoted himself to composition. From then on, he offered to mankind unique creations:  music for ballet, chamber vocal music, music for theatre, fiction films, documentary films, animated films, cantatas, poems. In 2017, Eugen Doga released an album entitled “The Great Successes”, which includes 18 of his most appreciated compositions, works that have resisted the times, printre care: “My Sweet and Tender Beast”, “Cascade de Paris”, “Maria Mirabela” Waltz of Love” “Road of the Gypsy”, “Prayer” etc.  He lived in Moscow for some time, but Moldova has always been his true home. Continuously touring internationally, he is a cultural ambassador, earing worldwide fame.  He won many awards such as: the “Mihai Eminescu” Medal, the Order of the Republic, the National Order “Star of Romania” and others.

Valentina Naforniță is yet another sonorous and emblematic name for our classical music. She is an opera soprano from the Republic of Moldova who enjoys a colossal- well deserved- success abroad. Since the autumn of 2011, when she becaume the laureate of the “BBC Cardiff Singer of the World” competition and when she became a member of the “Wiener Staatsoper”, where she sang Papagena in “The Magic Flute”, her unparalleled and unmistakable voice resounds in the largest cities of the world, where she is invited to participate in most important cultural events, conquering the audiences.  Besides the 2011 BBC award, she was also offered distinctions such as “Order of Labour Glory”. She declared in an interview that Vienna was her home, but, still, she often returns to the Republic of Moldova, to sing and promote classical music, but also to help others, as the patron of a non-governmental organization that helps needy children. 

Marcel Lazar is the most representative example of the young generation having studied abroad and returned home to move things around. He is a graduate of the “Gheorghe Dima” Music Academy in Cluj and of the “Mozarteum” University of the Arts” in Salzburg, Austria. Returning to Moldova with a well-crystallized, large scale vision about the music industry means, especially after his Mozart city experiences, the pianist founded the classical music festival Moldo Crescendo. This festival builds on the desire to offer the audiences of the Republic of Moldova the opportunity encounters with high quality classical music. Each new edition of the festival has brought music to various localities in Moldova, as well as in Romania. In an interview for Radio Free Europe, Marcel Lazar said that the project he is most proud of is “Bach at the House of Culture”.  Within the project, he performed, together with other Moldo Crescendo musicians, in 9 houses of culture in the Republic of Moldova, for most diverse audiences: children, teenagers, adults–for some it was a first-time encounter with a pianist or a violinist; the reactions were certainly very diverse. Through everything he has done, the artist has set out to be close to people and to promote the true musical-cultural values. 

Another important landmark for classical music in Moldova is the Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic “Serghei Lunchevici”, founded in 1930. The orchestra has over 80 exceptional players and a rich repertoire and pays lots of attention to the works of local composers. Along the years, the music ensemble has had various collaborations with several composers and conductors; at present, the artistic director and first conductor of the Symphony Orchestra is Mihail Agafiţa, People’s Artist, previously Permanent Conductor of the “Transylvania” Philharmonic in Cluj. The maestro’s repertoire includes musical creations from different genres and styles, ranging from preclassical to contemporary music, including works in the first audition. Among the numerous distinctions he has been awarded are the “Lya Hubic” trophy, offered by the National Opera Romanian in Cluj and the “Gavriil Musicescu”award, offered by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Moldova.

Gheorghe Mustea, People’s Artist, is also a representative conductor for our culture. He is a flautist, Pan flute player, pedagogue, composer, conductor and member of the Academy especially concerned with promoting values in national musical schools, a promoter of the ideea that aesthetic taste and culture can be educated. In his work he approaches various genres, including opera music; his work includes the operas “Alexandru Lăpuşneanu” and “Stephen the Great”.  Gheorghe Mustea is the founder and main conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of the Public Company Teleradio-Moldova. He carries out an extensive activity of preserving and promoting the patrimony of local classical music, earning recognition and awards: the State Prize for the opera “Alexandru Lăpuşneanu”, Knight of the Order of the Republic, aso.

Gheoghe Mustea. Source: Internet page of Academy of Science of Moldova

Another promising young musician who dedicated himself to classical music is Andrei Zapșa, founder and main conductor of the Smile Youth Orchestra (Chișinău, Republic of Moldova) and of Makassar Youth String Orchestra (Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia). He has been conducting the Athens Philharmonic Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic “Serghei Lunchevici”, the National Symphony Orchestra of the Public Company “Teleradio-Moldova”, the Academic Choral Chapel “Doina” and the “Voices of Spring” choir.  Andrei Zapșa won the “Mihai Eminescu” Medal, a state distinction of the Republic of Moldova for special merits in creative activity.  He is part of thecultural project PENTAGONIKA, an initiative that aims to create and consolidate a collaborative platform for artists from various cultural fields and geographical areas in order to address current challenges. At present, the project involves members from 9 countries of Europe and Asia. To quote from this young, “classical music must be promoted in a prepared setting. It is very important not only to give the opportunity of the audition, but also to prepare the listener for it.” 

This need to train valuable listeners of classical music was the reason for the creation of the  Bălți Philharmonic for Children, as part of the “Alecu Russo” State University, an initiative of the Department of Arts and Artistic Education of the Faculty of Education Sciences, Psychology and Arts, dating back to 1999. The Philharmonic is managed by associate professor Margarita Tetelea, Master of the Arts, Head of the Department of Culture, Education and Student Life of the “Alecu Russo” University of Bălți. This project started from the desire to offer such musical encounters to children, not only to adults, and thus achieving their musical and spiritual formation, especially since understanding that elitist music requires assiduous training. According to Margarita Tetelea, “classical music players are elite personalities, because understanding of such music requires a certain intellectual level, cultivated at a young age”. The first concert, in 1999, featured exclusively children: on stage and in the auditorium. Subsequently, the project took on a very large scale. Over the years, the stage of the Philharmonic, which is, in fact, the 120 seats university concert hall, was hosted the performances of music students from Moldova and Romania, but also those of renowned orchestras, such as the “Jakobsplatz” Symphony Orchestra of the Munich Philharmonic (Germany). All guests were surprised by the quality of the listeners, by their way of interacting with the artists on stage, because in Bălți the musicians are trained not only as performers, but also as listeners. We may have great classical musicians, but if we do not have a select listeners, the value of the player will not be perceived. At the Philharmonic, discussions, debates, interpretations of the works heard are organized after each concert.  And it means a lot.

This presentation mentions just a few names, just a few of the representatives of the departments of the vast field of classical music in the Republic of Moldova.  Starting from these examples, but not only, one can say the Republic of Moldova is home to composers, players, orchestras, conductors and exceptional philharmonics, of European level.

* The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the position of the Romanian Cultural Institute, but exclusively the opinions of the author.