Romanian violinist Irina Muresanu has performed in concert halls throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Her solo engagements include concerts with the Boston Pops, Miami Symphony Orchestra, Williamsburg Symphonia, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Geneva), Transvaal Philharmonic (Pretoria, South Africa), Romanian National Orchestra, Orchestre de la Radio Flamande (Brussels) and Boston Philharmonic.

In 2013, she announced her “Four Strings Around the World” project, a solo violin recital featuring works of composers inspired by various musical cultures around the world. And, in April 2018, her recording, Four Strings Around the World, was released by Sono Luminus Records.

In July 2019, Muresanu will perform for the fifth year at the Newport Music Festival. Stay Thirsty Magazine was privileged to visit with her for these Five Questions at the University of Maryland in College Park, where she is Associate Professor and holds the Tretter Distinguished Faculty Fellowship in Violin.

STAY THIRSTY: This July, you will be performing for the fifth year at the Newport Music Festival. What continues to draw you back to this particular festival?

IRINA MURESANU: I call it “the magic of Newport.” What makes this festival unique is the majestic location of the concerts (the mansions and the ocean create an unbeatable atmosphere), the extraordinary chemistry amongst the musicians and our special rapport with the audiences. On either side of the stage there is a passionate love for music, and often, audience members attend several (and sometimes all) of the festival concerts. Many of the musicians have long term friendships with audience and board members, and every year, we form new ones. It feels like a “Great Gatsby” lavish musical party that no one wants to miss – and one that lasts more than three weeks!

Irina Muresanu

STAY THIRSTY: How did you select the repertoire for your concert in Newport?

IRINA MURESANU: The vision of the Artistic Director, Pamela Pantos, is crucial in figuring the outline throughout the whole festival. She draws the repertoire in conjunction with the “wish lists” from the musicians so there is a cohesive and unified feel that showcases the personality of the musicians in their best light. The programs encompass a very wide variety of styles and genres, from Baroque to Broadway, from enchanting solo instrumental to glorious operatic concerts, so there is something for everyone. Come to one concert and I can guarantee you will be back for more.

STAY THIRSTY: Your project and recording entitled Four Strings Around the World has received much acclaim. What was the genesis of that project and do you see it continuing in the coming years? Are you working on other recordings at this time?

IRINA MURESANU: “Four Strings Around the World” has been an enormous discovery of the violin’s many voices and the presence of the instrument (or its ancestors and cousins) in almost all the majority of world’s cultures.

In many ways, this is the story of the violin through time and space. It is a project of global resonance, with music of composers that draw influences from the folk music of their own roots. The CD features pieces of Romanian, Irish, Austrian, German, Italian, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Argentinian, Native American and American composers. Two of the pieces (one by Indian composer Shirish Korde and one by Native American composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate) were composed especially for the “Four Strings” project.

It is an impressive line-up that inspired me to search for more. Just think about how many musical cultures exist around the globe. I like to say that this is a “living and breathing” project that will keep growing and will keep me busy for a long time to come.

Irina Muresanu - Ciaccona in D Minor by J. S. Bach (University of Maryland - 2017)

I am happy to say that the album, produced by the Grammy-award winning label Sono Luminus, got rave reviews and the project was awarded a prestigious NewMusicUSA grant and a Creative and Performing Arts Award from the University of Maryland.

The next recording that I am planning to release is a project titled “Rorem, Ravel and Ragtimes.” I find the confluence of French and American music in the first half of the 20th century fascinating. Almost all American composers (Gershwin and Ned Rorem included) went to study in Paris. Maurice Ravel fell in love with Jazz, Blues and Ragtime during his American tour, and the “Roaring Twenties” brought to Paris a craze for Ragtime called “Ragtimis.” This CD will interspace various pieces by Ravel, Rorem and Gershwin with ragtime of various composers – and hopefully a few ones especially composed for this CD.

STAY THIRSTY: You are also known for playing new music by American composers. What started you down that path and whose compositions especially shine in your view?

IRINA MURESANU: I always loved performing contemporary music and admire many of the American voices. I have recorded and performed all William Bolcom’s violin and piano sonatas and I champion works of two Bostonian composers: Elena Ruehr and Thomas Oboe Lee. I am proud to say that I am the dedicatee of their violin concertos and various other pieces, which I have also premiered. The list of names is much longer, as I continuously incorporate new music in my repertoire. There are so many interesting voices! A few years ago, I performed a program named “Women of Note” that featured many American women composers.

Irina Muresanu

STAY THIRSTY: There are many very dramatic photos of you playing a violin while standing dressed in an evening gown in the ocean. In those photos are you really playing your 1849 Giuseppe Rocca violin?

IRINA MURESANU: You can be sure I get asked that question a lot, but most people ask me if I was really in the water. I always say the answer is “Yes and No.” Yes, I was in the ocean (and lucky to catch a day with balmy temperatures) and No, it was not my 1849 Rocca violin (let’s leave it at that…).

Irina Muresanu

The end product came out spectacular and it sure grabs one’s attention. I guess I might draw the line at walking through fire, though.



All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.