Melinda Dumitrescu, violinist - Interview
Date: July 27, 2005 , Originally published August 7, 2004
Melinda Dumitrescu, a violinist from Romania who has been accompanying the prayer program at the shrine in Medjugorje for a number of years now, has recorded a new CD with musical themes from Medjugorje. This CD, with the title “Give us your peace”, is edited by the Information Center “Mir” Medjugorje.
After having completed her studies at the Music Academy in Lübeck (Germany) as a student of Prof. Zachar Bronn, Melinda Dumitrescu decided to come to Medjugorje and to stay here at the service of pilgrims. Her coming to Medjugorje is a consequence of her faith in Our Lady’s apparitions and of her encounter with Fr. Slavko Barbaric.
Lidija Paris: Melinda, would you be so kind as to tell us how you came to Medjugorje?
Melinda Dumitrescu: I was studying music in Germany, at the Music Academy in Lübeck, where Brahms and others were also studying. I heard about Medjugorje, I read a book with Our Lady’s messages. Ever since my childhood, I was successful in music. I was – as people say – a Wunderkind, but success was not sufficient to fill my heart. I was always seeking something else. I was traveling a lot, and I was always asking myself: where do I really belong, where is my family? I was traveling because of my studies and because of the concerts. I was all the time leaving behind me people whom I loved. While reading the messages of Medjugorje, I felt that - here - I could find what my heart was seeking. When I came for the first time, I came alone, and I met Fr. Slavko, with whom I previously spoke on the phone.
Lidija Paris: You knew Fr. Slavko Barbaric?
Melinda Dumitrescu: Yes, I knew him, and his death is a great loss. He was the first person I met here in Medjugorje. In the book with Our Lady’s messages, I saw his photo; we spoke on the phone in 1996. In the north of Germany, where I lived at that time, the Catholics are not very numerous and there were no Medjugorje pilgrims. In traveling agencies, nobody knew about Medjugorje. Fr. Slavko told me that it was near Mostar. I took an aircraft that was supposed to come to Split in the evening hours. I told to the Lord: “You know where I am going, help me to reach that place!” The desire to come here was stronger than me. At the airport in Frankfurt, I saw a group of Americans with badges on which it was written: “Marian Pilgrimages”. I told them that I was alone, I asked them if they were going to Medjugorje, and they took me on their bus from Split to Medjugorje. Everything was settled. My Medjugorje-story began with Fr. Slavko. As soon as I arrived, he asked me to play in the church, and soon after that, to stay in Medjugorje. And so, after my diploma, I remained here. As my own father is deceased, Fr. Slavko was like a father to me. A spiritual father. When he used to go somewhere, he used to take me with him to play the violin. He used to ask me to translate for Romanian pilgrims and to take them to the hills. His death is a great loss, but I see that God provides for everything. Fr. Branko and Fr. Svetozar, and other Franciscans are here now, who carry on Fr. Slavko’s work and who accepted me.
Lidija Paris: How did you familiarize yourself with the life in Medjugorje?
Melinda Dumitrescu: I am living with other young people – some of them also musicians - in a community, which is a fruit of Medjugorje. I met them in 1996, when I was playing during adoration led by Fr. Slavko, who was my spiritual father, a great supporter of artists, but also spiritual councilor of Madre Rosaria and of her community from the very beginning. I was attracted by the idea of a common life of prayer, of playing and singing for the Lord with other young people, just as we do it now in the community. In Medjugorje, in the community, I have the possibility and the grace to grow in every way. I have experienced the support that Madre Rosaria has given to me as a person, as a child of God and of Mary, but also in a special way as a musician, a violinist of Jesus and of Mary.
Lidija Paris: All the musicians here in Medjugorje are excellent, but your violin is bringing something special. What is it?
Melinda Dumitrescu: As soon as I was born, my mother offered me and consecrated me with her whole heart to Our Lady. My parents were musicians, and from my mother’s womb, I was growing with music. I think that Our Lady had a plan for me. She has chosen me and she is using me. I completed my studies at the Music Academy, but for me, music is a prayer. I offer my playing to God. My music is the prayer of my heart. I would like to tell you an anecdote from my life. Ever since my childhood, I was playing in churches. When I was 16, I was playing in Japan. My father taught me to play the “Ave Maria” by Bach and Gounod. After our concert, which did not take place in a church, the audience asked for more, so I decided to play the “Ave Maria”. It was the time of Advent, the feast of St. Nicholas, and I told to the audience that I was coming from a Christian country, and that – in Advent - the Christians are waiting for the coming of the Messiah. I told them that I was going to play a piece that is announcing his coming. At the end, everybody was crying, men and women, and all of them were Buddhists, and not Christians. This is a sign of the grace of God that passes through music, beyond words and images.
Lidija Paris: What does your violin mean to you?
Melinda Dumitrescu: It is a companion of my life, a faithful companion, but only after the Lord. It is the voice of my heart.
Lidija Paris: Don't you miss concerts?
Melinda Dumitrescu: From time to time I do give concerts, but as I told you, the career in the world cannot fill my life. I was playing from my early childhood. I could have continued, but I am happier in this way. Here, I feel home, and Our Lady is nevertheless leading me all over the world!
Lidija Paris: Don't you miss competition, comparing with other violinists?
Melinda Dumitrescu: Fr. Slavko said that competition is good, because every one has to improve. Here in Medjugorje, and elsewhere in the world, I meet good musicians who appreciate me and even say that I am among the best. I am characterized by my training and by a life entirely filled with sacrifice because of music since the age of six. I used to play up to eight hours a day. I was renouncing to so many things… and I was a winner. When I was 14, I got the first prize in an international competition in Italy. My teacher was Zachar Bron, a student of David Ojstrah, one of the best… Everyone tells me that I am on a very high professional level, and this is a grace, because I am not playing eight hours a day any more. I am living here now, at the service of pilgrims, I have an intense prayer life, a life of service and of sacrifice.
Lidija Paris: What does your family say?
Melinda Dumitrescu: My family is standing by me from my childhood, and they are surprised. They see, however, that I am happy. Every now and then, they are asking me if I am sure of what I am doing. When they hear that I am playing classical music in Panama, in Lebanon, in Korea… they are happy. We should not forget all the sacrifices that my parents have made. At that time, in Romania, with the political system that we had, one could only dream about leaving the country. My parents are also musicians. They did not have any special material resources. In Romania, artists could die of hunger. With the help of God, with his Providence, I got a scholarship and I could study in Germany. Everything is a gift. When I meet my colleagues, musicians, I see that they respect what I am doing. They even admire it a little. When I made the first CD for the benefit of Mother’s Village, «Misericordias Domini in eternum cantabo», so many people were happy about it. It was for the glory of God. Approbation is coming not only from Christians, but also from Muslims, Hindus, from those who are far from the Church. Music is touching their heart. Now, we have published this new CD with spiritual music in the style of Medjugorje, and soon, we will be doing another one with several other musicians.
Lidija Paris: Aren’t you afraid of the future?
Melinda Dumitrescu: I am in the hands of God and I trust Our Lady. In her last message, she told us to consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart and to the Heart of her Son Jesus. She is my manager, I have no other. It is not easy to abandon oneself every day into the hands of God. It is not easy to live in faith. Every day is pure faith. Every day, miracles happen for the glory of God. I offer everything to God for my own conversion and for the conversion of the world.
Lidija Paris: Your life is not something that one would expect from a Zachar Bron's student?
Melinda Dumitrescu: Living in this way, abandoning oneself to God, is madness in the eyes of the world. I do not live in this way because I would not have any other agenda in my life. This way of life means swimming against the stream. Why, because of whom, for what reason? I carry Jesus and Mary in my heart, and “the world” does not know them. I am living this kind of life only because of them. Two or three years ago, I had the occasion to earn 500 € per minute of playing as a soloist with an orchestra in Salzburg! Precisely these days, the owner of this precious violin that has been entrusted to me, had found a buyer, and I had to send the violin to Germany. I said: “All right, Lord, I will renounce to this violin! You know everything!” I was really attracted by the idea of playing this concert, although at that time I had no idea of how much they wanted to pay to me… Two days later, when the violin was already on its way to Germany, some benefactors came and gave me the amount that was necessary to acquire the violin! My life has always been like that. This story about the violin is just one out of many. I hat to renounce to it, I had to say “Your will be done”, in order to experience a much greater joy when I got back this violin, which is really necessary to me. It was a lesson of life that, I think, can be helpful for everyone. If we are able to renounce to something, the Lord is giving us all that we need, but he wants to be at the center. I said that the violin is the companion of my life, but only after Jesus and Mary. In itself, the violin is just a piece of wood. They say that I am able to give a soul to it. It became a part of me. I thank Our Lady for it.
Lidija Paris: As a Romanian citizen, you have problems with basic things, like the residence permit, visas…
Melinda Dumitrescu: When I renounced to a career, I renounced to many comforts, including the passport of another country that I had the possibility to obtain. When I am invited somewhere, I always have to undergo many procedures in order to obtain a visa. Even here, in order to continue to play in this parish, I need a residence permit. God will provide. I would be happy if it was possible to arrange that those, who desire to put their life at the service of this parish as volunteers, receive all the necessary documents. I know that I am not the only one with this kind of problem. Here, in Medjugorje, many volunteers want to do something good, and they all meet the same problem. You never know when the law is going to change, and this is not the case only in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Lidija Paris: What does it mean to live permanently in Medjugorje?
Melinda Dumitrescu: To live permanently in Medjugorje is not the same as to come on a pilgrimage, when some are in seventh heaven… It is a laborious daily journey through the desert, and we have to seek the source of life and the meaning of our existence. Every day is full of joy and of tears, of happiness and of suffering. I know that God’s reward is great. The prayer rhythm here in Medjugorje is melting the hearts. Even the most hardened hearts open here. I can see, especially during Adoration, that some feel like in heaven. The grace that is working through prayer, and through music that is offered in prayer, as well as the prayer program in Medjugorje, are a fruit of Our Lady’s apparitions. Her presence is a direct touch of Heaven that transforms everything. However, wherever is Our Lady, the enemy also tries to sneak in, and this is why we have to struggle every day. Pilgrims have special graces, and this is good, because they have to go back to their Jerusalem, but we have our Jerusalem here, and we offer everything for our own good and for the good of the pilgrims. You can see in their eyes, as they pray the rosary, that they are changing. And they give witness to peace and to joy, to the consolation that they have received. Alleluia!