Romanian music students from Cluj were invited to participate in Chautauqua's summer music program by Vasile Beluska, recitals coordinator and professor of violin.
The students visited Niagara Falls during a break from their rigorous rehearsal schedule.
(L-R) standing: Ionut-Liviu Craciun, Cristina Purje, Ramona Popescu, Beluska, Cecilia Varadi. In front, colleagues Raluca Dumitrache, Sebastian Chaves.
July 20-21, 2002
The Chautauquan Daily
by Patty Morgenstern
The road from Cluj, Romania to Chautauqua, NY, has become well traveled, thanks to the efforts of Vasile Beluska, recitals coordinator and professor of violin at Chautauqua. Beluska, a native of Romania, is currently professor of violin and string area coordinator at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Over the past 12 years Professor Beluska has brought more than 15 Romanian violin students to Chautauqua. This year, Professor Beluska invited four Romanian students from the Cluj Academy to participate in the seven-week summer music program at Chautauqua.
When the students return to Romanian they will undoubtedly take with them a little bit of America and a lot of the intellectual and musical growth that Chautauqua inspires year after year in its students. Like George Gershwin, who composed his Concerto in F in a Chautauqua practice shack in 1925, the Romanian students are experiencing firsthand the value of arts during this unique educational program.
For Ionut-Liviu Craciun, 19, Cecilia Varadi, 19, Cristina Purje, 22, and Ramona Popescu, 21, their Chautauqua experience has been a true eye-opener, not only about the study of music, but about America, its people, and its culture.
The students, all talented violinists in Romania who hope to become professional musicians, say that Professor Beluska and the Chautauqua experience are offering them new and stimulating perspectives about music.
That's exactly what Professor Beluska had hoped for. "The current fashion of making music in Romania is much different from how music is played in the States," he explains. "The students will greatly benefit from experiencing the American way of playing the violin."
In particular, Professor Beluska hopes to provide the students with more than just the technical aspects of playing violin. "The musical aspect (of playing violin) should be the motor that drives everything else," he says. "Students need to be inspired to create music and this aspect of playing an instrument needs to be practiced as much as the technical issues."
Ionut has witnessed that opportunity during his studies in Chautauqua. "They (the professors) give you the opportunity to develop the real you."
"I love it here," adds Ramona. "It's different from what I'm used to. It's more like a competition."
The chance to study in Chautauqua has also offered the students a personal and revealing look at American life. They noted in particular that Americans tend to be more interesting as well as more interested in you.
On an excursion to Niagara Falls, NY over the Fourth of July weekend, the students marveled at how organized the surroundings were around the Falls. "In Romania, there are many beautiful things, but they are not so organized," explains Ramona.
Choice was another surprising element to the students. "There are a lot of opportunities here," says Cristina. "At home, you don't have the chance to choose."
And while Americans often bemoan their stressful lives, Ramona found her time here to be quite serene. "There is not so much stress," she says. "I feel more peaceful."
"This is a different life, different types of characters," adds Ionut. "Here I can be myself, far away from my Romanian self."