Carmen Flórez-Mansi and Tom Mansi Parents Profile
by Ian Wisekal
Carmen Flórez-Mansi and Tom Mansi, parents to senior voice major Thomasluke Flórez-Mansi, radiate a warmth and energy that, in our Zoom meeting, was complemented by the glow of the afternoon sun on their faces. Their working lives center around the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, NM, Tom its Director of Finance and Carmen its Director of Music.
The Cathedral Basilica and its choirs have brought the family together not only in Santa Fe, but far beyond. Tom and Carmen sang with members of their Pontifical Chorus in Carnegie Hall and with the Sistine Chapel Choir, for Pope Francis, in Rome. Back home in Santa Fe, Thomasluke, a member of the children’s choir since age four, sang for the king and queen of Spain when the Cathedral hosted their visit in 2009.
At home, Carmen and Tom encouraged all their children’s interests—they also have a younger son, Estevan—whether they be music, sports, animals or art. “We just watch and see what blooms from that,” Carmen said. When Thomasluke was preparing to audition for the children’s chorus in Santa Fe Opera’s production of La Bohème, his mother remembers thinking, “Wow, there’s a voice there!” Despite her professional training, Carmen took care to respect the role of Thomasluke’s voice teachers and not interfere in his practice. “But if he was doing something at the church, doing something for me?” she laughed, “I was all over it!” Tom oversaw the kids’ education more generally: “I helped with the work ethic and discipline; the balance between schoolwork and music,” he said.
The family feels a special connection to Lamont. In addition to Thomasluke, who attended the Lamont Summer Academy for two summers before enrolling as an undergraduate, three of Carmen’s former students have attended the Summer Academy and two are currently voice majors. “We had a welcoming experience from day one,” Carmen remembered. In addition to the support received from performance faculty, academic faculty and admissions staff have also had a positive influence. “It’s a beautiful place; a warm place to grow as an artist,” she said.
While the Flórez-Mansis have been avid attendees of Lamont concerts ever since Thomasluke’s days at the Summer Academy, they have also managed to bring Lamont to Santa Fe. Catherine Sailer, the director of the Lamont Chorale, “has been a huge influence on Thomasluke; she’s phenomenal,” said Carmen. Since the Cathedral Basilica, with its reverberant acoustic, regularly hosts choirs from all over the world, Carmen issued a standing invitation for the Chorale, which Sailer accepted in 2019. During the Santa Fe leg of their tour, the Lamont Chorale performed twice at the Cathedral and conducted a master class at St. Michael’s High School, where Carmen teaches.
Besides the Cathedral Basilica, the other spot that brings the Flórez-Mansis together is the kitchen. Grinning, Tom said, “In addition to being a music family, we all love to cook.” “Tom is an amazing cook,” Carmen replied. Especially in the summer of 2020, when the family was cooped up at home, they often gathered to cook their dinners together, be it a traditional New Mexican favorite, like carne adovada-stuffed sopaipillas, or fresh bread made by Thomasluke.
“That was a silver lining,” offered Carmen of the pandemic, “spending all day, three meals a day, with my favorite guys.” Another silver lining? Three weeks before New Mexico issued a stay-at-home order, the family had moved into a new home on 11 acres with a large garden, chickens, dogs, cats; even a goat. Although travel was restricted, the Flórez-Mansis had plenty to occupy their days. “We love the privacy and freedom of being out in the country,” said Carmen. She and Tom smiled at each other. “Oh, and,” Tom added, “we made our own wine!”