Born in Romania to a family of physicians (her father was a surgeon and her mother a pediatrician), Mihaela Ionescu started playing the violin at the age of 7, after her parents were convinced that she should study a musical instrument since she also sang so well at an early age.

Why did you choose your instrument?

It was small, easy to carry and affordable for my parents, who were doctors at that time in Communist Romania.

What pieces programmed in the 2013–14 season do you hope more people will come to appreciate, and why?

Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto, which is rarely played here. I can’t wait to hear Leila Josefowicz perform it this month. Also, John Williams’ Violin Concerto with Gil Shaham in November, and Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1, a very difficult piece, with James Ehnes in December.

What is your most memorable CSO performance?

My first year [1987] in the orchestra with Solti as music director, performing such works as Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

Describe an unforgettable musical moment (as a performer or as a listener) you had as a young musician.

I saw Isaac Stern performing Brahms’ Violin Concerto on Romanian TV in black and white when I was 10 years old. I shall never forget that!

HOMETOWN: Craiova, Romania
EDUCATION: Romania Bucharest Music Conservatory, Konservatorium für Musik, Bern, Switzerland