Sponsored by Linda and Maynard Brittan
Born in Romania in 1989, conductor and violinist Radu Paponiu began studying the violin at age seven, moving on to study privately with Carmen Runceanu and Stefan Gheorghiu After coming to the United States at the invitation of the Perlman Music Program, Mr. Paponiu was accepted to the studio of Robert Lipsett at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, California, where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree and is currently an Artist Diploma candidate.
Beginning his conducting studies with Maxim Eshkenazy and continuing with Yehuda Gilad, Mr. Paponiu was appointed Conducting Fellow of the American Youth Symphony in 2010 under the tutelage of Alexander Treger. In 2011, Mr. Paponiu was appointed Assistant Conductor of the American Youth Symphony, resulting in numerous educational and subscription concert performances at the University of California Los Angeles Royce Hall. Additionally, Mr. Paponiu studied privately with Kenneth Kiesler at the Conductors Retreat at Medomak in the summer of 2011.
Working closely with Yehuda Gilad, Mr. Paponiu has conducted the Colburn Orchestra, Herbert Zipper Outreach Orchestra, Colburn Virtuoso String Orchestra, and the Colburn Contemporary Players. Additionally, Radu has guest conducted The LG Youth Orchestra in Korea, The Luzerne Music Center String Orchestra, and The Philadelphia Regional Youth String Music Orchestra.
Winner of the 2007 “Rotari Atheneum” Prize, Mr. Paponiu has made solo violin appearances with orchestras such as the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra, Bucharest Conservatory Orchestra, “Ion Dumitrescu” Philharmonic Orchestra, Lyceum Strings Orchestra, Central European Initiative Youth Orchestra, and Oltenia Philharmonic Orchestra. As a recitalist, Mr. Paponiu has performed in Thayer Hall and Mayman Hall at the Colburn School, Romanian Atheneum, History Museum of Bucharest, and the Cultural Center of Arcus.
Mr. Paponiu has been a guest artist for music festivals in the United States, Canada, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Italy, and Hungary, including the Perlman Music Program, Banff Chamber Music Workshop, and the Aspen Music Festival. He has appeared in numerous masterclasses with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Robert Mann, Donald Weilerstein, Christian Altenburger, Alexander Arenkov, and Merry Peckham, as well as members of the Ebène, Tokyo, and American string quartets. Mr. Paponiu is former Concertmaster of the Central European Initiative Youth Orchestra and Lyceum String Orchestra, as well as former Principal Second Violinist of the American Youth Symphony. During the summer of 2012, Mr. Paponiu served as Assistant Concertmaster of the Aspen Chamber Symphony
How did your upbringing and family influence your decision to pursue music?
Even though I come from a family without any musical background, my family has been essential in my development as a musician and human being. Without their love, support, and enthusiasm I certainly would not be where I am today. My experience of playing an instrument started at a fairly early age. When I was seven years old I really wanted to play guitar, but had to start with playing the violin because of its smaller size. After a few years I was more and more attracted to the instrument and I participated in some competitions which gave me excellent feedback. After finishing sixth grade I decided that music is what I truly love and I have to pursue it very seriously. I immediately left my hometown to move to Bucharest and enroll in the prestigious George Enescu Music High School. This was a difficult but necessary step that triggered all of my future development. It is also the perfect example of the type of support that I received from my family throughout all these years. I was too young to live by myself, so my grandmother moved with me to Bucharest and stayed for five years.
You held the position of principal second violinist before becoming assistant conductor. How does AYS complement your studies at the Colburn Conservatory?
I was very fortunate to play in the orchestra for two and a half years and I still love to do so whenever I am needed. AYS gives one the opportunity to learn and try out the great symphonic literature in a friendly and inspiring environment. The orchestra is a perfect learning experience since it does not only inspire one to play to the best of his/her abilities, but also provides a safe space where one can make mistakes, which are vital in the learning process.
How do you go about preparing for each rehearsal and concert?
The assistant conductor job is very exciting since I have to be ready to step in at any time. I certainly spend a lot of time learning about the pieces on the program and studying the actual scores. I try to look at the music from as many angles as possible and many times I find myself picking up the violin and playing through different lines in the score. Since conducting is very hard to practice without an actual orchestra, playing gives me a chance to experience and try out sounds and ideas running through my head. I find that the more I know, the more complicated and fascinating it gets. Once the rehearsals begin, I have the chance to work closely with Maestro Treger, whose experience and passion for music brings my preparation to a whole new level. I certainly value every second spent on the actual podium as well as the countless hours of observing and making notes. There is something very valuable about observing objectively what is happening and assimilating as much information as possible.
Your responsibilities include being on the panel for all the auditions. What is that like for you?
Sitting on the panel for the auditions is a challenging and fulfilling experience. I certainly feel a great deal of responsibility when listening to so many gifted young musicians. I sat on the panel twice already and both times, I was overwhelmed by the number of applicants and their level of preparation. On a more personal level, I feel that sitting on the panel has fully changed my way of preparing for an audition. Being on the other side of the fence gave me a lot of insight on what a jury is looking for and taught me the things that stand out in both positive and negative ways.
Have you ever been interested in pursuing something outside of music?
There are many other things that I enjoy doing. When I was younger I used to be quite interested in math and for a while I was considering that as a career path. Later on, I developed a passion for airplanes and I would love to be able to pilot one sometime in the future.