An astounding international cellist and educator, Dr. Simona Barbu began her musical studies at age seven and gained public attention as a member of the leading string quartet of the Conservatory of Timisoara in her native Romania, where she made her solo debut in Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with the conservatory’s symphonic orchestra. Ever since, she has traveled to Asia, South America, Europe, and the United States as a soloist, chamber musician, clinician, and orchestra musician. She has collaborated with world class musicians such as Emilio Colón, Edward Auer, Emile Naoumoff, Lydia Artymiw and Milton Masciadri. Barbu has been an active orchestral musician, performing with Memphis Symphony Orchestra, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Fargo Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, and serving as principal with the Eroica Ensemble in Memphis, Starkville Symphony Orchestra and most recently with the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra.
In 2012, Barbu formed the Duo Cantabile together with pianist Dr. Nariaki Sugiura. The duo traveled extensively and gave performances, clinics, lectures, and master classes at prestigious institutions around the world, including Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Mannheim (Germany), Zoltan Kodaly EZI Kecskemet (Hungary), Xinghai Conservatory of Music (China), National Taipei University of Arts (Taiwan), University of Antioquia (Colombia), and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. The duo has also participated in the performance series including North Dakota Museum of Art Concert Series, Greencastle Summer Music Festival in Indiana, Masterworks Music Festival in Ohio and the latest in Warsaw Summer Classical Concert Series in Indiana. Their concert programs often include duo’s transcriptions and newly commissioned pieces by living American composers. Two of the latest commissions were Bruce Stark’s Suite for Cello and Piano (2021) and Dr. Alejandro Drago’s “Suite for Cello and Piano «A Universal History of Nobleness»” (2022), included in the duo’s latest audio recording soon to be released.
A dedicated teacher, Dr. Barbu has served as the string faculty at Mississippi State University for four years, where she taught strings and conducted the symphonic orchestra. In 2011, she was appointed Burgum Endowed Chair at the University of North Dakota, where she currently teaches cello, string bass, chamber music and conducts the UND Honor String Orchestra. During summers, she performs and teaches at various music festivals.
Barbu plays a beautiful modern instrument made by Andrew Carruth in 2003 in Santa Rosa, California.