The San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert, “Cirque de la Noel,” not only featured the performing group Cirque de la Symphonie, complete with acrobats, aerialists, contortionists and jugglers, but also included Cal State San Bernardino music student Veronica Manzanera, who made her conducting debut.

Manzanera, the only CSUSB student to participate in the event, guest conducted “Sleigh Ride” by American composer Leroy Anderson during the sold-out concert on Dec. 17 at the California Theatre in downtown San Bernardino.

Lesley Leighton, CSUSB associate professor of music and department chair, who is the principal guest conductor of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra (SBSO), strongly recommended Manzanera for the part.

“Anthony Parnther, artistic director of SBSO, approached me about the possibility of a CSUSB conducting student working with the orchestra in December, and I identified Veronica as the student ready to take it on!” she said.

Agustin Ramirez, director of the CSUSB Veterans Success Center who attended the show, said Manzanera conducted the orchestra with energy and confidence.

“It’s exciting to see our young Coyote musicians on stage. What a proud moment for her and for CSUSB,” he said. “I can see that Maestra Veronica is a natural at the podium. The musicians responded to her direction faithfully.”

This is not the first time Manzanera has worked with the SBSO. Under the artistic direction of Maestro Anthony Parnther and the executive leadership of Anne Viricel, CSUSB students, including Manzanera, discussed and performed their instruments on camera, which are used as part of the SBSO’s Music in the Schools program. Manzanera demonstrated how to play the oboe. The educational videos can be found on the SBSO website.

Manzanera plans to graduate from CSUSB with her bachelor’s in music education in spring 2023.