Meet Our New Maestro
Radu Paponiu is the Southwest Florida Symphony’s sixth Music Director in its 62 year history. Radu also serves as the Associate Conductor and Youth Orchestra Director for the Naples Philharmonic. Since 2017, Radu has conducted the Naples Philharmonic in more than 100 different classical, education and pops programs. As a guest conductor, Radu has appeared with the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra, Banatul Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony and National Repertory Orchestra.
Radu has collaborated with notable soloists such as Yefim Bronfman, Vladimir Feltsman, Robert Levin, Nancy Zhou, and the Ébène Quartet. Radu regularly serves as cover conductor with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Konzerthausorchester Berlin, and he has assisted conductors including Andrey Boreyko, Iván Fischer, Fabio Luisi, Stéphane Denève, Hans Graf, Donald Runnicles, Cristian Măcelaru, Bernard Labadie and Ludovic Morlot. Radu has served on the conducting faculty of the Juilliard Pre-College, as well as conductor for the Summer Performing Arts with Juilliard in Shanghai, China, and the Southeast Asia Music Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Radu completed his Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Hugh Wolff. While in Boston, Radu was also conductor apprentice with the Handel and Haydn Society. In the summer of 2017, Radu was appointed assistant conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra in Colorado, as well as conducting fellow for the Cabrillo Festival Workshop in California. Radu participated in the prestigious American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and School as the recipient of both the Albert Tipton Aspen Fellowship and the David A. Karetsky Memorial Fellowship. In Aspen, Radu furthered his studies under the guidance of Robert Spano, Larry Rachleff, Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Summers and Federico Cortese.
Radu began his musical studies on the violin at age 7, studying privately with Carmen Runceanu and Ștefan Gheorghiu. After coming to the United States at the invitation of the Perlman Music Program, Radu completed two degrees in violin performance under the guidance of Robert Lipsett at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles. As a soloist and chamber musician, Radu has appeared in festivals throughout Europe and North America, collaborating with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Clive Greensmith, Martin Beaver, Merry Peckham and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein.
Radu currently resides in Naples, Florida, with his wife, flutist Blair Francis Paponiu. In his spare time, he enjoys chamber music reading parties, fishing, biking and playing tennis.