Catalin Rotaru was born in Moldova, a province in the far northeast of Romania, in the same region where Romania's most celebrated composer, George Enescu was born. Leaving home at the age of 11 and settling in the city of Botosani, he began his musical studies directly with the double bass. After only one year he transferred to one of the leading music schools in Bucharest, the G. Enescu Arts Lyceum. Upon his graduation he was admitted to the Conservatory, a great accomplishment, since at the time, only one bass player was admitted each year. As part of the admission process, he had to pass 5 exams: 3 instrumental - recital, technical proficiency, sight-reading and 2 theoretical - dictation, pure theory and solfeggio. His most influential teacher there was Ion Cheptea, a direct disciple of Joseph Prunner, an eminent bassist and visionary from Austria, who moved to Bucharest at the beginning of the 20th century and established at the conservatory one of the most distinguished schools of double bass.
Immediately upon graduation, he was offered a position with the Sibiu State Philharmonic, a major orchestra in Transylvania. Three years later he became associate principal with the Romanian National Radio Symphony in Bucharest. While still in Romania Catalin served as principal with the Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra of Bucharest and Orchestra Sinfonica Europea, with which he toured extensively throughout Europe.
In 1995 he emigrated to the U.S. after being offered a teaching assistantship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he also obtained a Master's Degree in music performance. He has also served as Associate Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and taught at Millikin University in Decatur Illinois before joining the faculty of the School of Music at Arizona State University, in 2005.
Since his arrival in the U.S. Catalin has been the recipient of many prestigious awards. He received the second prize at the 1997 International Society of Bassists Solo Division Competition and the Jury's Special Award for the best performance of the required piece at that competition. He was the winner of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Debut Recital Award in 1997, the Central Illinois Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters Award in 1996 and in 2013, was honored with the Recognition award for Solo Performance by the International Society of Bassists, which, being an award from his peers, is one of the highest forms of recognition that a solo double bassist can receive.
Catalin is one of the most in-demand International soloists of the day. His 2013 schedule alone included multiple appearances as soloist with various orchestras, performing recitals or conducting master classes at prestigious conservatories in Brazil, Japan, China, The Netherlands, Russia, Romania, Italy, Ecuador and Paraguay as well as the U.S. He also found time to perform the premieres of two new works for the bass: Andres Martin's Double Bass Concerto and Frank Proto's Sonata No. 2 for Double Bass and Piano, and serve as a juror at many of the world's most prestigious solo bass competitions.
His debut solo CD, Bass*ic Cello Notes was released by Summit Records in March 2007 and in 2010 released his second CD entitled Juliana D'Agostini + Catalin Rotaru which was recorded in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2012 Catalin recorded his third CD, in collaboration with the National Symphony Orchestra of Paraguay, which includes the world premiere of a double bass performance of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5.