Professor Opens Ears and Minds to Classical Music

Juan Francisco La MannaJuan Francisco La Manna tells the story as it has been told to him. He’s at a family gathering. He’s 4. He jumps atop a table and sings a rousing aria from Rigoletto.

The amused adults are unified in their response: piano lessons.

As a teenager in Venezuela, La Manna was simultaneously attending high school and, through a highly competitive system, the conservatory. He intended to follow his father into medicine until he and his conservatory friends attended a performance of Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto.

“It was the most powerful sound I had ever heard,” La Manna says. “Tears came to my eyes. I might not have been conscious of it, but that was the moment I chose music as my profession.” His parents were delighted.

After earning a baccalaureate and a master’s degree in piano at Indiana University, La Manna completed doctoral studies in conducting at the Conservatory of the University of Missouri. He was conducting two orchestras and teaching at two colleges when he applied to Oswego.

He accepted Oswego’s offer in 1997 and has, he says, fallen in love with the community and the college, where “most students exhibit enthusiasm and desire to learn.”

La Manna does some acting with Oswego Players, maintains a piano studio, conducts the college-community orchestra and has been guest conductor for the Naples Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Syracuse’s Symphoria and Teatro Lirico d’Eurpopa. He teaches piano, conducting and orchestration courses as well as a music appreciation course that fulfills the fine arts general education requirement.

“I really enjoy that large group course,” La Manna says. “I’ve had positive contact with students who appreciate the opportunity it gave them to learn about classical music. It does open the ears and the minds of many.”

Linda Loomis ’90 M’97

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