Music Director, American Composers Orchestra;
Director of Orchestral Studies, Manhattan School of Music
Manager: Elizabeth Crittenden , Artistic Advisor & Consultant
Management Territory: Worldwide
George Manahan was the right man for the job: a seasoned leader with a flair for coordinating dramatic works, not least from his New York City Opera tenure... he drew an appropriately weighty introduction from his young players; pert, springy outer movements framed a lissome Andante. Steve Smith, New York Times, March 24, 2012 Manhattan School of Music "Double Feature: New Music With Old Soul"
"Mr. Manahan and the orchestra gave a mesmerizing account of this fiercely original music." Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, March 28, 2011 - NYCO's 'Monodramas'
“What a difference it makes to hear the piece performed by an opera conductor who palpably believes in it…the fervent and sensitive performance that Mr. Manahan presided over made the best case for this opera that I have encountered.” Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, January 16, 2009 - NYCO's 'Anthony and Cleopatra' at Carnegie Hall
As Current Music Director of the American Composers Orchestra, as well as the Music Director of the Portland Opera (OR), 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.
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 served as Music Director of the New York City Opera for fourteen seasons and was hailed for his leadership of the orchestra where he "gets from his players the kind of heartfelt involvement unthinkable in the City Opera orchestra pit 20 years ago.....these musicians operate with such consistent energy and involvement." (New York Times)
In May 2011 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 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 Boheme, 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.
George 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.