Deutsche Grammophon signs its first Iranianmain
Here’s a little sliver of life from the music biz:
Some time in 2010, I was contacted by a young artist who was frustrated at his agent’s inability to get him a date at the BBC Proms. He had a brilliant idea – to perform the Goldberg Variations on the harpsichord, never done before at the Proms – so I told him to get in touch with the Proms director Roger Wright, who knew his track record as a BBC Young Generation Artist.
Too shy himself to make the cold call, I emailed Roger and asked if he’d like to hear from the young man. He did, and the rest is on the record.
Months later, at the launch party for the 2011 Proms, I was chatting to a peer of the realm when an incandescent little man butted in and yelled into my face: ‘Norman, you have just ruined that young man’s career.’
‘Go away,’ I said.
‘Who was that?’ asked the noble Lord.
‘An agent,’ I replied.
Before the week was out, the apoplectic agent fired his young harpsichordist. Another agent stepped in without much delay. The young man has since gone from strength to strength, with recordings on the niche Hyperion label and many international engagements.
His name is Mahan Esfahani. This afternoon, I am thrilled to reveal, he is going to sign a record contract with Deutsche Grammophon, a summit moment in any artist’s career. Tonight, he will play Bach at the Bristol Proms with Avi Avital – an Iranian and an Israeli in blessed perfect harmony. ‘As a musician I like to think out of the box,’ says Mahan, ‘and here is a label with the same attitude.’
And the agent? …. He’s still an agent.