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S tephen is a freelance music teacher in Northern Ireland; he mainly tutors private piano/theory students in the town of Donaghadee. Born in 1962, he has lived in Donaghadee most of his life. The town is located in County Down, on the eastern coast of Northern Ireland, boasting a picturesque harbor and many items of historical interest.

Stephen retired from his affiliation with Saint Anne's school where he taught recorder and singing. He continues to play the organ in Saint Comgall's Church, a position he's held since the early 1980s. His first organ lessons were taken on the Mulholland Grand Organ in Ulster Hall, Belfast. He also studied under Dr. Desmond Hunter, an international concert recitalist who specializes in early music.

Saint Comgall, by the way, was an Irish abbot of the 6th century, born in Ulster, who gave up the life of a warrior and was ordained a priest in about 557. He gathered about him some of the most famous Irish saints, including Saints Columban and Columba. A manuscript called the Bangor Antiphonary includes a long hymn in praise of Saint Comgall. He died in Bangor (Bennchor) on the south shore of Belfast Loch in 603.

Stephen's degrees include M.Phil, B.Mus and LTCL, the latter required for private teaching. During his graduate studies he became seriously ill with a life-threatening illness. After major surgery and a 3-month recuperation, he resumed his studies and earned his M.Phil in 1991. He remarks, "Just over 8 years ago I almost died and I never thought I would work again. I do not play so actively now since being ill, so composition takes its place. If there had been no illness there would have been no composing. The Lord works mysteriously, does He not?"

For his Masters degree from the University of Ulster at Jordanstown (Belfast) he concentrated on the north German organists, particularly Nicholas Bruhns (a contemporary of Buxtehude).

He has made one trip to the United States, traveling to Georgia in 1989 on a tour with the Donaghadee Male Voice Choir. From the 14-day tour, two memories stand out. He writes: "The first was playing in the Macon Opera House on a 100-year-old piano to an audience of over 1000. The second was playing a solo at a local church -- which coincided with a television production that was broadcat live over the entire area."

In addition to his musical interests, Stephen enjoys gardening and reading, particularly Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. On the musical side, he has written many compositions, mainly for church, including Masses, motets and various psalm settings.

CanticaNOVA Publications offers several works of Stephen McManus in our catalogue:

Other compositions by Stephen can be found at the following websites:,_Stephen

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