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George Manahan

George Manahan

Acis, Galatea & Polyphemus: Conductor and harpsichordist

The wide-ranging and versatile George Manahan has had an esteemed career embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary. In addition, he continues his commitment to working with young musicians as Director of Orchestral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music as well as guest conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music and Merola Opera Program.

Mr. Manahan is the 2012 winner of the Ditson Conductor’s Award, established in 1945 by the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. It is the oldest award honoring conductors for their support of American music. Previous recipients include James Levine, Christopher Keene, Leopold Stowkowsky, Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, and Alan Gilbert. He also served as Music Director of New York City Opera, Portland Opera, and American Composers’ Orchestra.

Mr. Manahan was honored by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) for his “career-long advocacy for American composers and the music of our time [that] has enriched and enabled Concert Music both at home and abroad.” His recent Carnegie Hall performance of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra was hailed by audiences and critics alike, “What a difference it makes to hear the piece performed by an opera conductor who palpably believes in it,” said the New York Times, “the fervent and sensitive performance that Mr. Manahan presided over made the best case for this opera that I have encountered.”

Mr. Manahan’s guest appearances include the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, as well as the symphonies of Atlanta, San Francisco, Hollywood Bowl, and New Jersey, where he served as acting Music Director for four seasons. He is a regular guest with the Music Academy of the West and the Aspen Music Festival, and has also appeared with the Opera Companies of San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, Santa Fe, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera National du Paris, Teatro de Communale de Bologna, the Bergen Festival (Norway), and the Casals Festival (Puerto Rico).

His many appearances on television include productions of La bohème, Lizzie Borden, and Tosca on PBS. Live from Lincoln Center’s telecast of New York City Opera’s production of Madame Butterfly under his direction won a 2007 Emmy Award. Mr. Manahan’s wide-ranging recording activities include the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s Tehillim for ECM; recordings of Edward Thomas’s Desire Under the Elms, which was nominated for a Grammy; Joe Jackson’s Will Power; and Tobias Picker’s Emmeline. His enthusiasm for contemporary music continues today; he has conducted numerous world premieres, including Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne, Charles Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, David Lang’s Modern Painters, Hans Werner Henze’s The English Cat, and Terence Blanchard’s Champion. As Music Director of the Richmond Symphony (VA) for twelve years, he was honored four times by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) for his commitment to new music.

He received his formal musical training at the Manhattan School of Music, studying conducting with Anton Coppola and George Schick, and was appointed to the faculty of the school upon his graduation, at which time The Juilliard School awarded him a fellowship as Assistant Conductor with the American Opera Center. Mr. Manahan was chosen as the Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony and he made his opera debut with the Santa Fe Opera, conducting the American premiere of Arnold Schoenberg’s Von Heute Auf Morgen.