Swarthmore’s philosophy of open exploration and its environment of intersectionality are embodied in Reid Mansur ‘23, a music major and a Spanish minor. A big fan of musical theater with a love for pop music, he came to Swarthmore with an aim to learn more about the history of music and become a better performer. Before arriving he was already proficient in both piano and the French horn, and had sung in school musicals and his church choir.
“Most of my personal musical tastes were influenced by my upbringing. I played a lot of hymns on the piano so I have a soft spot for some piano pieces, and then with regards to classical repertoire, I would say I am a big fan of Chopin—the Romantic era interests me greatly,” Mansur elaborated, when asked about his musical influences.
While he was clear he wanted to pursue music professionally coming into his first year at Swarthmore, he did not start taking any music courses until his sophomore year. Mansur explained that he wanted to take advantage of Swarthmore’s unique first-year options. The college offers a pass/fail semester to provide students with exploration opportunities, along with first-year seminars to form intimate connections with classmates and professors.
Mansur found himself exploring music in ways that he had not foreseen before arriving at Swarthmore. He has taken various dance courses in his last few semesters, including ballet and tap, and even studied flamenco while abroad in Madrid.
“That music-dance intersection was not something I necessarily saw for myself as possible, but the culture at Swarthmore is very encouraging for anyone to be able to come and try and learn new things, ” he said.
Mansur has found all his music courses rewarding, though he noted his growth since taking private voice lessons with Clara Rottsolk as one of his proudest achievements and expressed how talented and knowledgeable she is on how the voice works.
Mansur’s taste leans towards musical theater and avant-garde music – he described finding ways to incorporate that into his time here.
“I’m a big fan of the musical group Celtic Women, who I’m actually doing my thesis on. They’re an Irish vocal group that does traditional Irish and contemporary ballad-type music.” Mansur is studying how they construct an Irish identity that Americans can relate to and associate themselves with through their music.
His proudest moment was performing in an original musical written by his friend, Marie Inniss ‘23, titled ‘The Kai’s the Limit.’ As one of the main characters, Mansur described enjoying the process of working in an original comedy musical and developing a character from the ground up.
“Music was a big part of this character’s identity so I was able to put a lot of myself into that in a really cool way. The musical and my character in particular were very well received which was wonderful for me,” he said.
Mansur is currently in the process of planning out his life post-graduation—he would love to perform musical theater or another vocal realm. He explained that performers need to possess a number of different skills and be ready to say yes to varied jobs.
“I’m definitely nervous and excited for graduation. I’m looking forward to pushing myself further and exploring what I am capable of and how I can fit into making music for the entertainment world. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but it’s all a learning experience,” he expressed.