Since immigrating to the United States, Nicolae Feraru has perpetuated the Gypsy traditional music he learned from his father, and other lautari, or minstrels, in his native Romania. The second youngest of seven children, Feraru was born in 1950 in Bucharest, Romania, into a musical family. Feraru's father played the tambal mic(small cimbalom, or dulcimer in the Romanian tradition) and cobza (lute). Despite the warning from his father against becoming a musician because of the long, sleepless, weekend-long weddings, Feraru took up the cimbalom anyway. His father then arranged for him to take lessons on the tambal mic from Mitica Ciuciu-Marinescu, one of the leading Romanian performers on the large cimbalom. From him, Feraru learned formal harmony and theory, but most of the learning was through observation and imitation of the master musician.
After achieving the status of muzician, the highest rank awarded to a musician in the Communist system, Feraru was able to work and tour as a musician. For many years, he played in Bucharest restaurants, in the panpipe soloist Radu Simion's ensemble, as well as accompanying such singers as Gica Petrescu and Ion Albesteanu. In 1973, he played for six months in a restaurant in Montreal and made two solo LP records on the Electrecord label. When a rare opportunity to tour in the Romanian communities in the United States arose in 1988, Feraru travelled to Detroit. He then applied for and was awarded political asylum (he became a U.S. citizen in 2001). In 1994, he moved to Chicago and was joined two years later by his wife and three sons; his two daughters had to remain behind.
Until recently, Feraru worked in a dental equipment factory, while also regularly performing at weddings, community events, and restaurants throughout the Chicago region, including the Chicago World Music Festival. He has performed at various public events and for public officials, including former President Bill Clinton at the 2009 dedication of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. In 2007, Feraru participated in the Illinois Arts Council's Ethnic and Folk Arts Master Apprentice Program and the same year the Romanian Round Table of Chicago gave him an award for his cultural contributions to the community.
[Excerpts of "Caruta Postei" and "Un Parinte Poate Creste," by Nicolae Feraru from the album, Tambal si Voce, used courtesy of Nicolae Feraru. Video of Nicolae Feraru accompanied by his son-in-law, Sile Dorel and grandson Orlando Dorel, accordions; Daniela Bisenius, violin; and Bane Djordjevic and his son, keyboards. Filmed by and used courtesy of Shaun Williams.]