An advantage of songs that become classics is that they are so familiar that they enable the listener to judge the qualities of a voice. When the singer is as talented as Monica Bejenaru, it is a pleasure to hear her sing. The Sound of Silence Such was her passion for singing as a toddler, Bejenaru’s parents affectionately called her the bald singer.
Bejenaru started light singing lessons at the age of four. She was soon selected to sing with The Romanian Folkloric Ensemble, with which she participated in many concerts and tours, including abroad. Halfway through 4th grade, she enrolled at the Art High School, Bacău, as her mother recognised that she needed music theory. Just listen to her sing.
If you watch her arms, you’ll notice that Monica Bejenaru is accompanying herself on piano. She barely glances at the keys, yet her playing is sublime. Much as I like her singing, I would happily listen to her doing a piano-only take of The Sound of Silence. Meanwhile, her voice has beautiful low tones and soars effortlessly when necessary. Commendably, she sings without over-embellishment. Joe Bloggs notes on YouTube: “So beautiful, when you hit the notes just right, it brings a tear to my eye”
At art school, Bejenaru elected to study the viola as her primary instrument. She considers this a fortuitous accident, as she wasn’t sure what she was signing up for. Now she feels it was her destiny to play viola as she fell in love with the instrument. After school, Monica Bejenaru studied at the Conservatory in Lasi, before she was accepted at the University of Arts in Vienna as a postgrad and obtained Master’s degrees. Here is Bejenaru singing a traditional Romanian folk song:
Traditional Romanian folk music is close to Monica Bejenaru’s heart. She was exposed to traditional songs from childhood by her grandmother and her mother’s singing, and by her grandfather’s choice of radio station. Bejenaru says that the moment she sings a folk song, “especially doinas and ballads”, she feels a strong connection to her roots, “to our ancestral spirit, to that particular emotion for us, the Romanians, which unites us through time. It’s an instant connection to the intimacy of the nation.”
The occasion for the performance in the above video was a TV special for the 145th anniversary of the sculptor Constantin Brâncusi, at the National Art Museum of Romania, 20 February 2022. Monica Bejenaru elected to sing arrangements of music from all the regions of Romania. She took advice from her grandmother for the selection of her traditional outfit and accessories. Felicitas Farcaș, “a veritable encyclopedia of folklore and manners”, lent Bejenar clothes from her personal collection, including some very old pieces.
Speaking of the benefits of her studies in classical music to her professional career, Bejenaru has said: “In music, just like in any other profession, you never really finish learning, discovering, but to be a musician, in the true sense of the word, you definitely need that form of talent refinement which only higher education offers you”.
While in Vienna, Bejenaru sang on stage on a number of occasions. By the time she sang at the Brâncusi anniversary, she was a member of The Lincoln Center Stage Quartet, New York. The quartet performs in a number of countries.
In 2022, Bejenaru travelled to Brasil to take part in the Bossa Nova Around the World recording.
Monica Bejenaru has a YouTube channel on which she posts a wide range of covers. The faint trace of her Romanian accent, which comes through occasionally, is the cherry on top of her singing. Do yourself a favour… If you would like to see more from Monica Bejenaru, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.