Department of Music Announces Burgum Endowed Chair

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News Article

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Campus Unit

College of Arts & Sciences


The University of North Dakota Department of Music is pleased to announce Simona Barbu as the new Assistant Professor of Music and Burgum Endowed Chair of Cello. Next fall, Barbu will join the UND Strings Department, focusing her talents on recruitment, cello lessons, orchestra sectional coaching and instructing Masters classes.

Simona is a decorated musician who has performed as a soloist throughout the United States and her native Romania. She became recognized in the strings industry as a member of the leading quartet of the Conservatory of Timisoara in Romania. Simona began her musical studies in violin at the age of seven. As a child, she attended the Conservatory of Music in Timisoara and continued on to the Music Conservatory at Lynn University, in Boca Raton, Florida. Under the guidance of renowned American cellists, Nathanel Rosen and Christopher Adkins, Barbu continued her education by pursuing a Master Degree at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas. Simona is currently completing her DMA program at the University of Memphis where she also instructs.

Ms. Barbu’s cello chair is the first position appointed in the Burgum Strings Endowment. An endowed teaching position honors not just the faculty holder and the university, but also the donor. The Burgum’s, Rick, ’68 and Jody, ’74, appreciate the education they received at UND and understand that the arts play a critical role in education.

“Having a full-time faculty member in low strings enables the department to actively seek and attract talented students from the region, nation, and world to round out the Strings Department,” said Michael Wittgraf, UND Music Chair. “The generous endowment from the Burgum’s gives the UND orchestra program the resources it needs to move from great to exceptional.”

Under the direction of Dr. Alejandro Drago, the UND String Quartet’s season has been a year of exciting progress. Often featured at Chamber Orchestra performances, the Strings’ music stands out in the eyes of many.

Featuring four artists from around the world, the quartet infuses fresh excitement into their music resulting in heartfelt and masterful work. The quartet members include violinist, Iam Andrew Martin (Texas), violinist, Joel Tosta Alarcon (Honduras), violinist Lihue Czackis (Argentina) and cellist, Austin Soderstrom (Minot, ND).