Transylvania native Virgil Lupu never thought that his career in music would bring him to own his own business. He began teaching at Forté Music School in 2008 when it was owned by Jim Stanton.
According to Lupu, in 2014, Jim, who still teaches at Forte, “approached me about whether I would like to take it over. I never thought I would end up running a school, but you never know.” At the time there were 150 students enrolled; now there are 500, a huge milestone for the school.
Bowling Green ties
Lupu’s primary inspiration to pursue music was his mother. A piano teacher at the intensive music school from which Lupu graduated, Sigismund Toduta Music High School in Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania, Romania. Lupu comes from a family of musicians; his father was a violinist, his uncle was in the city opera, and nearly everyone in his family is a singer. His high school studies focused on music, where besides playing the violin, he studied theory, music history, harmony, all while practicing for hours each day.
Although as a high school student in Transylvania, Lupu had never heard of Bowling Green State University, a former colleague of his mother’s (Vasile Beluska) taught violin at the University, so he auditioned and received a full talent-based scholarship.
“There are a lot of cultural differences between Europe and America,” he said. “Overall, I had a great opportunity. I met a lot of great people, and it opened the door to many good things.”
Bowling Green was a small town for Lupu, who grew up in the heart of the second largest city in Romania. He also still had room for improvement with his English.
“Sometimes I would sit with people and it (their speech) would begin to sound like noise,” he recalled. “It was very tiring to focus enough to take it all in. When you start dreaming in English, then you know that you are over the hump,” he said, smiling.
Find your forté
After graduating from BGSU Lupu taught at the Toledo School for the Arts for a year, enrolled and received his masters from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, before moving back to Toledo to teach at Forté in 2008.
“The previous owners were very kind; they have good hearts,” he said. “We immediately built a very strong relationship and that’s how the previous owner ended up approaching me about continuing the school.”
When he first became an owner, Lupu still taught many students, but he had to cut back on teaching to keep up with managing the school. He was working the office by himself.
“It was a nightmare,” he said. “I was here all day, then I’d go home to take care of other things…I barely slept.” He now has an office staff and more than 35 teachers who help to keep everything running smoothly. “I couldn’t have done it without them,” Lupu explains.
The staff enables him to “grow the school, not just run it. I have a mountain of goals and ideas,” he said.Those include accommodating the 100 or so students who come to the school every day along with attracting more adults to enroll.
“I realized that I also found my forte here,” he said. “We have so many talented kids. I’m honored to be the one who runs it. It’s a gem. I feel very lucky and excited that we’re in Toledo because, despite what some people say about this city, it really is thriving. I see growth everywhere I look.”
Forté Music School | 3208 W Sylvania Ave, Toledo
419-471-2100 | fortemusic419.com