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SWEET POTATO KICKS THE SUN

An Opera For All Ages
(For Small Ensemble and Special Guest Artist)

Carmen Flórez-Mansi

Conductor and Youth Chorus Director for the 2019 World Premiere of Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun

Carmen Flórez-Mansi, a native of New Mexico, currently serves as the Pastoral Associate for Music at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Since 1989, she has performed as a vocal artist, choral conductor, vocal instructor, and liturgy specialist throughout the Southwest, including solo appearances with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale and The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. Mrs. Flórez-Mansi is also the Director of the Choral Arts Society at St. Michael’s High School, which she founded in 2014. Under her direction, this advanced 42-member chorus won the New Mexico Music Educators 2017 State 4A Choral Championship which took place at Cleveland High School in Albuquerque. In just their third year, this was the Choral Arts Society’s first year competing in state finals.  This year, Choral Arts Society of St. Michael’s High School again won the 3A New Mexico Music Educators 2019 State Championship receiving a superior rating.

In 2017, Mrs. Flórez-Mansi appeared as Guest Choral Director for The Symphony’s annual November performances of Handel’s Messiah at The Lensic and “Carols & Choruses” at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in early December. She has been named Choral Director of the Santa Fe Symphony Chorus in June 2018. Also in December 2107, she joined The Santa Fe Opera as their Children’s Chorus Master and Vocal Coach for the return production of Shoes for the Santo Niño, an operacomposed by Stephen Paulus based off the children’s story by New Mexico native Peggy Pond Church. This season she will serve again as Chorus Master for the world premiere of Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun for the Santa Fe Opera.

Mrs. Flórez-Mansi founded the St. Cecelia Institute for Liturgical Arts for children as well as her private vocal studio, Mariposa, in 2010. In 2012, she and her family moved to Napa, California, where she accepted a position as the Director of Liturgy & Music at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church & School. During this period, she was also the Director of Development & Donor Relations for the San Francisco-based, early music group, American Bach Soloists. Prior to this brief relocation from Santa Fe, she had been the Director of the Office of Worship at the Cathedral Basilica from 2001 to 2012.

Mrs. Flórez-Mansi made her debut at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall as choral conductor for its Father’s Day concert on June 18, 2017, performing Mass of the Children by John Rutter. This was not her first appearance at Carnegie Hall, however. In June 2007, she and 55 members of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi Pontifical Chorus performed Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall, under the direction of renowned composer John Rutter. That same year, she released a recording of sacred psalms titled “Salmos de mi Alma.” In February 2016, she returned to Carnegie Hall with nearly a hundred Santa Fe singers—most of them from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi’s Pontifical Chorus—to conduct Magnificat, under the direction of Dr. David R. Thye. She and her choristers were later honored with an invitation to join the Sistine Chapel Choir in November of that year for the Closing Mass of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, celebrated by His Holiness Pope Francis, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy.

From 2008 to 2010, she led the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in an 18-month liturgical and musical celebration of the 400 Years of Faith in New Mexico Quarto Centennial events, which included the visit of the Spanish Royal Family. She has hosted and served as choral conductor and liturgist for events at the Cathedral Basilica, such as Vesper Service for the Papal Nuncio and 285 members of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She has also served as a plenum speaker and clinician in the areas of sacred music and liturgy for the Southwest Liturgical Conference, Hispanic Pastoral Musicians Conference, and National Pastoral Musicians Conference.

Carmen Flórez-Mansi and her husband, Tom, have two sons—Thomasluke and Estevan.