Meet The Performers

Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Strings - Violin

Mihaela Ionescu

Violin

Mihaela Ionescu came to Chicago in 1980 from Europe and over the years she has been very active as an orchestra musician, chamber musician and violin teacher.

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

Since the age of 9, Ionescu has regularly played recitals and solo concerts and has participated in national and international competitions, including Bucharest in 1964 and 1976; Sion, Switzerland, in 1976 and 1978; and the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1978.

Since leaving home at the age of 16, Ionescu has traveled, studied, and played in many cities and countries in Europe. Her first stop was Bucharest, where she lived from 1970 to 1977 as a high school student and then as a student at the C. Porumbescu Music Conservatory (graduating in 1977). Her teachers there were Stefan Gheorghiu and Cornelia Bronzetti. She continued her studies with Tibor Varga at the Music Academy of Sion and with André Gertler at the Summer Music Academy in Szombately, Hungary. From 1978 to 1980, she lived in Switzerland, where she received a performance certificate from the conservatory in Bern and held a position in the orchestra of Biel-Bienne. During these summers, she played with the Luzern Festival Orchestra under Sergiu Celibidache.

Since coming to Chicago, Ionescu has been a member of the first violin section of the Lyric Opera Orchestra of Chicago and was principal second violin of the Grant Park Symphony until 1987, when she was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Sir Georg Solti. In addition to solo recitals, she has performed with most local ensembles and her own chamber music group, the Athenaeum Ensemble. She also has appeared with members of the Vermeer Quartet at the Bay Chamber Festival in Rockport, Maine, and on the Dame Myra Hess recital series at the Chicago Public Library.

Mihaela and her husband, violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi, have two sons, Michael and David. Her top priorities are balancing her career and motherhood, but she greatly enjoys photography, interior design, gardening and traveling.

August 2009

Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.