George Manahan to Transition to Music Director Emeritus of American Composers Orchestra

American Composers Orchestra and George Manahan have announced that after ten years as Music Director, Manahan will transition to Music Director Emeritus of ACO at the conclusion of his current contract, on July 1, 2021.

Since becoming Music Director in 2010, George Manahan has led the orchestra in numerous performances at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, and more, conducting 191 works by 162 composers and premiering 82 new pieces in concert. Manahan is the third music director of ACO since its inception in 1977, following founding conductor Dennis Russell Davis (1977-2002) and Steven Sloane (2002-2010).

ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel says, “George is a phenomenal musician whose professionalism, skills, and musical insight have earned him the love and respect of our orchestra, composers, soloists, and audiences. His leadership has always kept ACO in the most capable of hands. Personally, I am extraordinarily grateful and proud to have collaborated with this consummate artist and educator whose work spans the gamut of symphonic music, opera, and beyond. I look forward to continuing to work with George in his role as Music Director Emeritus.”

“After ten meaningful years as Music Director of American Composers Orchestra, I have decided to move on to the role of Music Director Emeritus,” Manahan says. “Being a part of bringing new music by both young and established composers into the orchestral repertoire has been incredibly rewarding, and a great pleasure. And, working with ACO’s musicians has always been a joy – they are expert at what they do, and I am glad to have shared the stage with them for so many years.”

ACO Board President Sameera Troesch says, “We are incredibly grateful for the decade that George Manahan has spent with ACO. George’s work as Music Director has created a spark that has captivated and inspired the ACO family –audiences, composers, and performers alike. On behalf of the Board, I thank George for sharing his passion and perspective, for the benefit of ACO. We look forward to welcoming him back to the podium in the future as a guest conductor.”

The wide-ranging and versatile George Manahan has an esteemed career embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary. His enthusiasm for contemporary music has been integral; he has conducted numerous world premieres, including Charles Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, David Lang’s Modern Painters, Terence Blanchard’s Champion, Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne, and Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber. As music director of the Richmond Symphony (VA) for 12 years, he was honored four times by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) for his commitment to 20th century music.

George Manahan was Music Director at New York City Opera for 14 seasons. His 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. He continues his commitment to working with young musicians as Director of Orchestral Studies at the Manhattan School of Music as well as guest conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music. He also serves as Music Director of the Portland Opera. 

Photo of George Manahan by Richard Bowditch
Photo of ACO and George Manahan by Yvonne Albinowski

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