Breaking moulds in the agency business

Last year saw unprecedented turmoil in classical agencies, with top draws like Gustavo Dudamel and Joyce DiDonato on the move and the major players – CAMI and IMG – under threat.

For many musicians, the turmoil was profound and unpleasant. I know of several cases where defecting artists are being sued for back commissions and of one where a performer, displaced in her agent’s favours by a new star, is being pursued by lawyers with a dubious claim. If it ever comes to the crunch, this space will name names.
It is, therefore, a relief to announce two new ventures that are breaking with past decay and creating new models for the classical music industry.
Peters Edition – publishers of Bach, Beethoven and many fine composers down to Brian Ferneyhough – have set up an agency division to represent vocal groups. Such a good idea. Choirs have been made hot by several French films and by British animateur Gareth Malone. 
Everyone wants to hear a good choir, so Peters have recruited former Kings Singer Robin Tyson to represent them. His starting list consists of Grammy-nominated Tenebrae, Cantabile, Gallicantus and a slice of the controversial organist, Cameron Carpenter. Robin can be reached at Robin Tyson

Tenebrae Choir
Tenebrae: Photo Eric Richmond

More modestly, the former singer Barbara Maria Rathbone has set up a ‘collaborative’ management service, Musica Universalis, for artist who are fed up with being pushed around by big agencies. This way, she says, a soloist regains control of his or her career and is no longer pushed into mind-numbing runs of the Mendelssohn violin concerto or Dvorak’s cello concerto.
Among the participating artists are the former BBC Young Musician of the Year Guy Johnston, violinist Priya Mitchell and the oboist-turned conductor, Nicholas Daniel. It’s a venture that deserves to succeed. I shall report back in a few months.

Priya Mitchell (Musica Universalis)

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  • Mr Lebrecht, I would just like to clarify Nicholas Daniel’s position regarding Barbara Maria Rathbone’s agency. Barbara is looking after Nicholas Daniel’s conducting career; his general management remains with Pro Artist, by whom he has been represented for some years. I wish Barbara every success in her new venture.
    Aminah Domloge, Pro Artist
    Glad to clarify the position. Aminah also represents, among others, soprano Elena Prokina, pianist Boris Berman and the Haffner wind ensemble. NL

  • Dear Mr. Lebrecht, The Peters Edition agency division has not been set up to represent choirs. For a start: Cantabile is not a choir but a male vocal quartet, EPAM also has the soprano Grace Davidson and -as you said- the organist Cameron Carpenter on their books. EPAM picked the artists they wanted, not specifically choirs.
    You can find the EPAM press release on their website:
    Steven Brooks, Cantabile – The London Quartet
    Represented by EPAM

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