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Cailin Marcel Manson

Cailin Marcel Manson
Voice; Chair – Vocal Studies


Baritone and conductor Cailin Marcel Manson, a Philadelphia native, has enjoyed an international career as an operatic/concert soloist, conductor, and master teacher with many organizations, including the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, SWR Sinfonieorchester, Taipei Philharmonic, Bayerische Staatsoper – Münchner Opernfestspiele, Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Teatro La Fenice, Teatro San Carlo, Konservatorium Oslo, and the Conservatoire de Luxembourg.

Mo. Manson has also been a guest cantor and soloist at some of the world’s most famous churches and cathedrals, including Notre Dame, Sacré-Coeur, and La Madeleine in Paris, San Marco in Venice, Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, San Salvatore in Montalcino, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome, Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, and Wieskirche in Steingaden.

Mo. Manson has built a sterling reputation over an extensive 20-year career, encompassing both baritone and some tenor repertoire, for his exceptional musicianship, keen dramatic instincts, and vocal flexibility. Critics have praised his performances as “arresting” and “revelatory,” making consistent note of his “ringing projection,” “commanding tone,” (, “lively, original acting skills” (Hudson-Housatonic Arts), and his “ability to bring the internal drama of the music to life” (Scranton Times-Tribune). Recently, Mo. Manson created and premiered the roles of The Hunter in John Aylward’s Oblivion, and The Man in Matthew Malsky’s A Dill Pickle, released on New Focus Recordings and Neuma Records within the last year. A founding artist for the Wagner In Vermont Festival, Mo. Manson has performed the role of Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde, and the complete cycle of Wotan/Wanderer roles in Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried).

Mo. Manson recently made an acclaimed Carnegie Hall conducting debut with MidAmerica Productions in March 2023, leading Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, becoming the second black person in the performance history of Carnegie Hall to conduct the work at that historic venue. Shortly thereafter, MidAmerica Productions appointed Mo. Manson as their Artistic Consultant, and he has since returned to Carnegie Hall numerous times to conduct masterworks in performance. Mo. Manson will return to La Madeleine with MidAm International, this time as a conductor, to lead a centennial performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in June 2024, at the very site where the work was premiered in 1888 and performed in 1924 for the composer’s state funeral.

An advocate for rarely-heard repertoire and the work of underrepresented composers, Mo. Manson led the New England Premiere of Robert Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses with The Keene Chorale, as well as conducted performances of Luigi Cherubini’s Medea, Robert Aldridge’s Parables, Jules Massenet’s Marie-Magdeleine, William Grant Still’s And They Lynched Him On A Tree, Louise Farrenc’s Symphony No. 3, as well as commissioned and premiered two works by emerging composers of color: the song cycle Unsaid Prayers by Nico Gutierrez, and a full symphonic work by Felix Jarrar, his Symphony No. 1, “Banishing Grief.”

Mo. Manson has held positions as Music Director of the Vorarlberger Musikfest, Music Director and Conductor Laureate of the Chamber Symphony of Atlantic City, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Montgomery County Youth Orchestra, Chair of Vocal Studies at the Hazleton Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Director of Music at The Putney School, Music Director of the Bennington County Choral Society, and as Music Director of The Keene Chorale. He has also served as a member of the faculty of the Vermont Governor’s Institute on the Arts and the Performing Arts Institute of Wyoming Seminary. Mr. Manson also found and directed the Germantown Institute for the Vocal Arts and the Germantown Concert Chorus.

Mo. Manson is a frequent guest conductor, clinician, presenter, panelist, and adjudicator for conventions, conferences, competitions, and music festivals.

Maestro Manson is currently Professor of Practice in Music and Director of Music Performance at Clark University, Chair of Vocal Studies at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, Conductor-in-Residence at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Music Director of Barn Opera and Opera Vermont, Artistic Consultant and Conductor for MidAmerica Productions and MidAm International, and Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer of the New England Repertory Orchestra.

Mo. Manson studied voice performance at Temple University, and opera performance and orchestral conducting at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg.

Teaching Philosophy

As an artist-teacher, I seek to engage students in the inquiry that occurs in the development of an informed interpretation of musical repertoire, and model the preparation, engagement, and commitment required to render that interpretation effectively for an audience to experience. I also aim to empower students to find their own voices as interpreters and creators of music.

Before any of that can happen, a “brave” space must be created in the rehearsal/classroom where all students are understood, seen, and respected, so that they feel safe enough take the risks necessary for musical and personal growth. The position of a conductor specifically – and a musical artist-teacher more generally – is one of service, first and foremost: service to the composer and the score, as well as to the collected individuals they lead as an ensemble. An ensemble invests a great deal of implicit trust in the leadership of a conductor, which must be handled with humility and gratitude. I lead through passion, commitment and study – by example – and hold students accountable to the work of the ensemble, and the demands of the artistic work we are rehearsing, but not to me personally. Coupled with explanations and corrections, concepts of vocal and/or instrumental technique, articulation and diction, historical and theoretical context, and an abundance of humor, we work together to fix errors in rehearsal – or in the studio – and engage each musician more fully and with more individual investment. We “build the rollercoaster while riding it.”

I firmly believe that repertoire itself is a primary teaching tool, particularly the deliberate selection of repertoire that spans the historical development of music, requires stylistic flexibility, and stretches the artistic and technical proficiency of the ensemble. I proactively discuss difficult topics or themes that may arise when dealing with texts from the Western musical canon and invite student feedback, and offer up my own ideas as a doorway into these discussions, but not as the final word. We consider together the work’s history alongside the meaning the piece can have for us today, and explore methods of engaging the score with full commitment, even if its point-of-view or origin differs greatly from our own. This participative cultural dialogue is at the nexus of the work of interpretation, and is a practical manifestation of skills that students have gained elsewhere in their studies and the burgeoning well-spring of their life experiences. I incite students to make these connections.

I encourage students’ thorough understanding of the musical language and musical scores, and challenge them to deepen their capacity for discernment and critical listening. I emphasize the necessity for each student to develop a foundational vocabulary within the discipline; we then explore ways to make this “language” expansive and responsive to the needs of the works they study. I seek to provide them consistent opportunities for practice and trial-and-error, so they may see and hear their artistic ideas and choices in sharper relief. The research and musical preparation students undertake must be met and matched with an open heart and an enthusiasm for communication.

My goal is that the rehearsal, study, and performance of music should enrich the students’ lives and the life of the larger community, seed cultural reflection and dialogue, and give the students opportunities to demonstrate not only increased technical and artistic skill, but also a deeper capacity to have conversations across difference. In this way, they can engage others in forming the future of our art and contribute to communities that will welcome all voices and ensure that those stories are told, interpreted, and embodied.

Photography by Julius Brown Photography.