Cem Mansur

Musician, Founding Conductor, National Youth Symphony Orchestra
Cem Mansur
Musician, Founding Conductor, National Youth Symphony Orchestra

“A relationship similar to that between an orchestra and a conductor can be found anywhere involving a concern for making good use of time and particularly in disciplines where people manage and are managed.” 

Orchestra conductors make for good leaders

Cem Mansur opposes the perception of music as a decoration of life. He is whole-heartedly convinced that a person who has been educated in classical music will have a totally transformed perception of life. He believes that making music as a group is an outstanding experience of teamwork and is an ideal example for a democracy. “Music is a miraculous way of bringing about peace and democracy. Playing in an orchestra affects your way of thinking. You get to learn about history and geography. Making music as a group teaches you how to live within a real democracy. It also inculcates in the participants a culture of bonding with and not excluding “the other”.” Being an orchestra conductor requires you to be a good leader. Mansur thinks that “a person deserves to be a leader if they can recognize the potential of the group of people under their management and who are able to motivate that group, to earn this leadership. This is sometimes a question of technical knowledge, sometimes about motivating and stimulating. In fact, someone who can combine these two can be a good orchestral conductor. It is difficult to make a definitive distinction such as ‘people are born leaders’ or ‘people become leaders.’ Both are possible. Circumstances can also turn a person into a leader. The things that happen to you in life, the things you have to do, can bring forward a leadership ability that the individual themselves may be unaware of”.

Who is Cem Mansur?

Cem Mansur studied music in London, graduating from City University and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which awarded him the Ricordi Prize. He later studied at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. He was the conductor of the Istanbul State Opera between 1981 and 1989. He was the Principal Conductor of the City of Oxford Orchestra from 1989 until 1997. He was appointed as the resident conductor of Akbank Chamber Orchestra in 1998. Cem Mansur is the honorary head of Ipswich Choral Society, the second oldest choir in England, and founding conductor of the National Youth Symphony Orchestra.


• Leadership –  balancing leadership and autocracy

• Management

• Motivation

• Problem solving

• Team spirit