BORN WITH A PASSION
Since my early childhood I have loved classical music, and already as a little Carmen I couldn’t get enough of the Beethoven and Mozart records that my Mum – then a sound engineer at Bucharest’s radio station – brought home to me. Soon a piano also entered the house, and these 88 keys became the centre of my life and my great love.
When I was 7, my parents fled from the Ceausescu regime with me. We escaped via Israel and Italy to Germany, which then became our new home. There we had a piano even before we had furniture – a beautiful small “Bechstein” on which I tried to copy my idol Arthur Rubinstein.
ACADEMY OF MUSIC
TO BAND LIFE
At the age of ten I was accepted by Prof. Ulla Graf as a junior student at Aachen Academy of Music. In the years that followed I won numerous competitions and awards, played concerts in an orchestra and as a soloist. When I turned 18, I no longer wanted to be limited by genre boundaries and rules anymore, neither in music nor in life. The next ten years I was a keyboardist in various bands, this was a moving, exciting – and yes, even crazy time. Good music touches the soul, no matter what genre it is supposed to belong to. My soul is touched by Debussy, Poulenc, Brahms and Chopin, but also by Chick Corea and Bill Evans. And so I started studying piano at Cologne Academy of Music and graduated with honours.
IN THE MUSIC CITY
Then I made my home in Leipzig. In this wonderful city of music I played with soloists from the Gewandhaus, the MDR Orchestra and Sinfonia London, and I made friends for life. In Leipzig I discovered my passion for song accompaniment through fantastic singers like Carolin Masur or Laetitia Grimaldi Spitzer. There I also got to know the wonderful pianist Irwin Gage, who supported and inspired me for several years in his master classes in Florence. A special award for the best Poulenc interpretation at the International Grieg Competition in Oslo for piano duo with pianist Juliane Tautz crowned this period of my life in music.
Finally, I returned to the Rhineland in 2011. Since then I have been living and teaching in Cologne. Here I recorded my first solo album Kaleidoscope of Life, here I met the clarinettist Pamela Coats, with whom I released the album Paris mon Amour and here I found the ensemble AVENIR, with whom I make crossover music that touches the soul. I have always been suspicious of straight and narrow paths. So I found my own path, frequently meandering deliciously off the beaten track. Kurt Tucholsky already knew that “detours improve local knowledge”.
„Carmen Stefanescu – a melodically sensitive pianist, who listens deeply into her sounds and enchanted the audience with Debussy’s Images, almost turning the Hommage à Rameau into a musical narcotic. A delightful evening.”
„Multilayered veils of sound transformed into a magnificent burst of musical ‘sunlight’!”
“In equal measure a great soloist, Stefanescu also stood out as a song accompanist. Restrained, and with an unerring sense of the theme and her partner, her presence was always felt, but only as a melody-serving counterpart with the aim of complementing and accompanying in the best possible way.”
„ …The delightful combination of a homage to nature with jazz touches did great justice to the ‘New Debussy’. It really seemed as if his works had ultimately been waiting for a feminine interpretation.”
„Ravel’s Habanera finally combined grandeur with a French flavour to create a highly sophisticated enchantment of sound. An evening where the external setting matched the inner mood perfectly.“
„NAfter the intermission, the pianist surprised with a splendid array of colours inspired by French Impressionism. “She played L’Ile Joyeuse with a verve and zest in what was a downright thrilling performance. Her fascination with this music resonated with the audience, pure enthusiasm!”