US orchestra drops conductor ‘out of an abundance of caution’

US orchestra drops conductor ‘out of an abundance of caution’


norman lebrecht

March 09, 2020

Larry Johnson reports in South Florida Classical Review that the New World Symphony ‘pulled conductor Cristian Măcelaru’ from this weekend’s concert because he had recently returned from Japan.

It said in a statement: ‘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.’

Măcelaru’s agenr Charlotte Lee said he is perfectly healthy and does not have coronavirus.


  • Cyrus says:

    Important to note that the New World Symphony is an educational organization, and so there is a concern about contact with students.

    • Karl says:

      But covid-19 isn’t killing children. The symptoms in children are usually very mild. The regular flu kills more children, but we don’t shut down everything because of that.

  • Miley says:

    Outrageous. What a pathetic, cowardly organization.
    That sounds like a lawsuit to me. Only Cristi is far too kind a person to go down that path!

    • Anon says:

      Outrageous until you wake up to find the high school down the street closed due to a documented exposure and suddenly everything hits home. If there was ever a time for an abundance of caution, this is it.

      Chicago suburban area. Other areas will follow. I wish I could find the NWS cancellation an over reaction. I no longer can.

    • MacroV says:

      The NWSO presumably said “Christian, you just came from Japan where Coronavirus is a problem. We’re sure you’re fine, but with all the precautions happening these days, we think it’s better if you don’t conduct right now. We’d love to have you come another time. Thanks for understanding.” The NWSO can probably argue force majeur. If there IS grounds for breach of contract, if he has any sense of decency, he’ll go along with it.

    • Couperin says:

      Let’s see how he feels in two weeks; if he’s completely healthy, then he can cry for a big apology from NWS… If not.. then, what, can we all say “Told ya so!”?

      • Michael says:

        Except that he had not been in Japan since February 20. So it wasn’t even recent and hence even more ridiculous.

    • Jack says:

      “out of an abundance of caution.”

  • Ron Kilfour says:

    Breach of contract much?
    And if you read the review it sounds like his replacement bombed. Great job administration, sheesh.

  • Karin says:

    But US has more total number cases according to the statistics

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Wouldn’t a test clear up the matter? . . . oh, I forget; we don’t have test kits in the U.S. (certainly not enough of them).

    • fflambeau says:

      No, a test would not “clear it up” even if available. There is an incubation period. You need 14 days of quarantine before you can really be sure.

  • Tamino says:

    More irrational nonsense. Japan is relatively lightly hit by the virus so far.

  • sam says:

    Their loss.

    Măcelaru doesn’t need the New World Symphony on his resume.

  • sam says:

    I wonder how Chicago will deal with Riccardo Muti, not that with the current country wide quarantine he can even get out of Italy.

    • anon says:

      Mutti has never been known for being reliable with multiple health cancellations throughout his tenure. Not saying that this wasn’t fully justified each time it came up – just saying CSO patrons have dealt with his absence before.

  • Michael says:

    You’d think a youth orchestra in Miami would be honored and grateful to have such a conductor. Instead they ‘uninvite’ him. That’s arrogance.

    • MacroV says:

      The NWSO is not a “youth orchestra;” they’re graduates of the country’s top music schools and a regular feeder into major North American orchestras. Their music director of nearly 30 years is MTT and I haven’t looked at their schedule but I’m sure they play with more distinguished conductors than Mr. Macelaru quite often. It’s unfortunate they felt the need to cancel in this instance but I doubt it’s a grievous loss for them should he decide not to return as a result.

    • Joseph says:

      It’s not arrogance at all. The New World Symphony is hardly a “youth orchestra in Miami.” Though young, these players have finished studies at top conservatories and are one step away from winning auditions for full-time spots in orchestras throughout North America. And who do you think the demographic of their audience might be? Hmmm…. Let me think… Oh, maybe, folks in their 60s and 70s and 80s who have retired to Florida but support the arts by attending concerts by the New World Symphony? Is it really a time for sniping about being cautious? Try to see the big picture.

      • Musician says:

        It’s not a real gig. It’s a gloried youth orchestra. The end.

        • Bruce says:

          ^ sounds like somebody auditioned and didn’t get in 😉

        • MacroV says:

          It’s an orchestra of post-collegians selected through a highly-competitive audition process; no dead wood in this band. And they probably rehearse more than a typical professional orchestra, so in general one can assume their performances are at a very high level, probably comparable to most top-10 U.S. orchestras.

          But I fail to see how your, um, insight is relevant to the NWSO’s decision.

  • Larry W says:

    The cancelled March 7 concert was 16 days after the February 20 concert in Japan. On February 29, Cristian conducted the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra at his alma mater. Cristian was tested for coronavirus and the results were negative. Since he had rehearsed the NWS days before the cancelled concert, this move is questionable as to effect.

  • fliszt says:

    Very provincial behavior on the part of the NWS.

  • Alexander Graham Cracker says:

    From Japan? Where only .0004% of the population is or was infected by COVID-19? Where only .000005% of the population has died from it?