Maestro move: Manchester chief is picked to head US festival

Juanjo Mena was announced as the new Principal Conductor for the Cincinnati May Festival, the longest running choral festival in North America.

Mena, 51, currently head of the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, was chosen from a field of 30 international contenders.

James Conlon has just stepped down from leading the festival after 37 years.



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  • When I was 10 years old I was chosen to sing in the children’s chorus of the Cincinnati May Festival in 1951. We rehearsed for months ( La Croisade des Enfants (1902), a seldom-performed oratorio by Gabriel Pierné). Since I was the only one chosen from my grade school class, I rode the streetcar by myself to the Cincinnati Music Hall every Saturday morning. The performance was thrilling, to be on the stage of that enormous hall. I later learned that my father and my grandmother (in the late 1800’s) had also been chosen for the chorus. This was the beginning of my desire to become a singer, later realized when I studied in Vienna in 1960-61.

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