Well, a man has to go when a man has to go. 

So there I was at the IAMA urinals, stuck between two classical music biz fixers and going, as it were, with the flow.

Now there are good agents and bad agents, and they are often one and the same person, showing one face or the other as the situation demands.
I had just heard one of them declare that in 46 years he had thought of nothing but how to help his artists get their talent to the widest possible audience, oblivious to his recent efforts to sell the whole batch of them into corporate bondage. 
An oxymoron? A contradiction in terms?
Not at all. He was being perfectly true to himself and his chameleon occupation. 
It so happened that an eminent concert artist, past winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition, had put in a request to attend our IAMA session. The answer was No. Plain No.
The music business does not like artists to see it all unbuttoned. That’s why slipped disc is obliged to perform a natural function between the two dichotomies. 
As if I needed to tell you that…

I am chairing a session for IAMA, the international artist managers association, later today.

This is where agents big and small get together to fix artist careers for the next year or few.
Musicians are strictly barred. A major competition winner asked if I could get him in. The answer was, No. Like you don’t invite a calf to the annual convention of abbatoir owners.
I shall try to have fun keeping the peace among my panellists who include:
– Bogdan Roscic, head of Sony Classical
– Jasper Parrott, who tried to merge his business with Universal
– Jessica Lustig, who does stuf with virtual orchestras and
– John Minch, head of Boosey & Hawkes
Security permitting, I might even blog and tweet a few secrets. Do watch slipped disc.
Oh, and there’s a keynote from Deborah Borda. I’ll try to send that over, too.

The international Brazilian pianist Cristina Ortiz has cancelled her concert this month with the strife-torn Brazil Symphony Orchestra, which has sacked half its musicians. So has her conductor Roberto Tibirica, who has a long association with the orchestra. 

Cristina is married to Jasper Parrott, head of the London-based HarrisonParrott agency. Her gesture is likely to set a trend for other artists.


The international Brazilian cellist Antonio Meneses has published an article today, declaring his distress and perplexity at the way musicians are being treated and calling on the management to retract the sackings. A more humane and diplomatic solutuon must be pursued, he argues. Here’s the link (in Portuguese). 

Anyone who thought the classical music was in for a quiet time after this blog helped break up the proposed merger between Universal Music and the Harrison Parrott agency is in for a rude awakening. Since then, Parrott has grabbed a chunk of faltering IMG and vultures are swirling around other likely victims. 

So who’s making the next move?

My spies tell me it’s Helene Grimaud, the star earner of HP and personal protegée of its founder, Jasper Parrott. La Grimaud has been looking uneasy of late and playing worse.
Instead of devoting more time to practise, she has been seen huddling in dark corners with predators. Obviously, the first on her tail was the desperate agency wing of Universal Music which has been left high and dry since the HP deal fell through. Grimaud makes her records for DG. A hook-up would make sense. 
But what’s this I hear from Milan? Grimaud, spotted in a cosy nook with persuasive Kathryn Enticott and Libby Abrahams of IMG.
No-one’s confirming anything, but I’m told the deal’s imminent. Grimaud goes to IMG.
That’s seriously bad news for Parrott, since Grimaud earns more in commission than the entire raft of singers he took off IMG.
But it’s even worse than Universal, who are looking not just glum, but pointless.  

Better believe it.

A horrible rumour has been going around to the effect that Peter Oundjian, new music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, once played soccer for the England schoolboys team.

How bad is that? About as awful as vegetarian haggis, or pouring ginger ale in a 30 year-old malt. It would have gone down in Glasgow like a Mars bar fried in vomit.

Happily – and you can always rely on this site for good news – I am in a position to announce that Mr Oundjian never played for England.

I have it on the best authority that he played left midfield for Charterhouse school and was being scouted by Chelsea FC when a torn cartilage at 16 put an end to his dreams of glory and he went back to violin, chastened if not (excuse this) unbowed.

Chelsea’s loss is conducting’s gain. I guess they couldn’t afford him now he’s got HP as his agents.

Happy days.

A horrible rumour has been going around to the effect that Peter Oundjian, new music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, once played soccer for the England schoolboys team.

How bad is that? About as awful as vegetarian haggis, or pouring ginger ale in a 30 year-old malt. It would have gone down in Glasgow like a Mars bar fried in vomit.
Happily – and you can always rely on this site for good news – I am in a position to announce that Mr Oundjian never played for England.
I have it on the best authority that he played left midfield for Charterhouse school and was being scouted by Chelsea FC when a torn cartilage at 16 put an end to his dreams of glory and he went back to violin, chastened if not (excuse this) unbowed.
Chelsea’s loss is conducting’s gain. I guess they couldn’t afford him now he’s got HP as his agents.
Happy days.

Last year’s turmoil in the classical music business is about to accelerate. One of the key managers in IMG Artists, the second largest agency, has walked out with most of her artists.

Shirley Thomson, deputy director of the vocal division, has joined HarrisonParrott, itself at the centre of corporate moves and upheavals. Thomson is responsible for such high performers as Anne-Sofie von Otter, Camilla Tilling, Kim Begley, Lawrence Zazzo, Olaf Bär and Patricia Bardon. All sides are staying very quiet until legal matters are resolved but it is expected that most if not all of Thomson’s clients will join her at HP.
Her defection, following Simon Goldstone’s walkout with Joyce DiDonato and 20 other singers, constitutes a massive blow to IMG’s aspiration to be a supermarket of classical talent. The agency has also lost senior v-p Maurice Whitaker, who looked after a range of instrumentalists. The ease (and contract loops) with which Goldstone took DiDonato has left IMG looking vulnerable to further raids, and HP were not slow to swoop.
Jasper Parrott had been trying to sell his agency last year to Universal Music, but his deal collapsed with a change of management at the record company (see Deal of the Century is Off). He faced a choice of bigging up or bowing out, and took the first course. Capturing Shirley Thomson and her artists is a considerable site forward in HP’s survival strategy.
Where that leaves beleaguered IMG is surrounded by question marks. Its owner, Barrett Wissman, removed himself from day-to-day running of the business after confessing to fraud in a high-profile US political prosecution two years ago. His ownership, however, has not been diminished, nor has his promotional interest in the career of his wife, the cellist Nina Kotova, and other artists.
In the past year, IMG’s only coup was to attract the conductor Semyon Bychkov after the sale of his former agency, Val Walsum. Several senior IMG managers have been seen whispering to their rivals, fostering rumours of further potential walkouts. The rot has not been stopped.
For other 2011 classical moves, see here.
Press release follows.
Anne-Sofie von Otter
 Camilla Tilling (IMG portraits)


www.lawrencezazzo.com


FOR
IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

13
January 2011, London

 

 

Shirley
Thomson joins HarrisonParrott as a Director to lead the expansion of the Vocal
Division

 

HarrisonParrott
is pleased to announce that Shirley Thomson will join the Board of Directors
from April 2011. Currently Deputy Director of IMG Artists Vocal Division,
Shirley will lead the expansion of HarrisonParrott’s vocal list alongside
Associate Director Ian Stones and Special Consultant Paola Quaglia. Iarlaith
Carter
, recently appointed an Associate Director, will also
contribute towards the new team.

 

Chairman and
Joint Managing Director Jasper Parrott commented: “Shirley’s approach to artist
management reflects our own commitment to realising the long term aspirations
and career development of our artists. We are delighted that she will help us
consolidate and further develop the high quality list which Ian Stones has built
in recent years into a distinctive roster commensurate with our list of
conductors and instrumentalists.”

 

Ian
Stones added: “Shirley’s experience and outstanding contribution to the careers
of those artists she represents is well known and respected within the
international classical music industry. I am thrilled to be working with her in
developing the Vocal Division.”

 

“I am
thoroughly looking forward to this new challenge with Harrison Parrott, working
again with some former colleagues and getting to know many new ones”, commented
Shirley Thomson. “It is exciting to be involved in the development of a
department and I feel confident that, together with the excellent and
experienced team already in place, we will be in a strong position to create new
opportunities for both existing and future
clients.”

 

During
her time at IMG Artists Shirley Thomson has helped shaped the careers of Stephen
Milling, Anne Sofie von Otter, Camilla Tilling, Juha Uusitalo and Jennifer
Wilson amongst many others. Her earlier work for the European Community Youth
Orchestra saw her work on tours with such celebrated artists as Claudio Abbado,
Carlo Maria Giulini and Mstislav Rostropovich.

 

HarrisonParrott’s
current vocal roster includes Paul Agnew, Barry Banks, Richard Berkeley-Steele,
Orla Boylan, Susan Bullock, Klara Ek, Bo Kristian Jensen, Helena Juntunen,
Juanita Lascarro, Simon Lim, Garry Magee, Georg Nigl, Lilli Paasikivi, Eliana
Pretorian, Ville Rusanen, Andreas Scholl, Mark Tucker and Angelica Voje. A full
list of HarrisonParrott artists can be found at www.harrisonparrott.com/artists 

 

Further
announcements regarding the expansion of HarrisonParrott’s Vocal Division will
be made in due course. 

 

 

For further information, contact:

 

Antonio
Orlando

Marketing and
PR Manager

HarrisonParrott

antonio.orlando@harrisonparrott.co.uk    

 

 

Last year’s turmoil in the classical music business is about to accelerate. One of the key managers in IMG Artists, the second largest agency, has walked out with most of her artists.

Shirley Thomson, deputy director of the vocal division, has joined HarrisonParrott, itself at the centre of corporate moves and upheavals. Thomson is responsible for such high performers as Anne-Sofie von Otter, Camilla Tilling, Kim Begley, Lawrence Zazzo, Olaf Bär and Patricia Bardon. All sides are staying very quiet until legal matters are resolved but it is expected that most if not all of Thomson’s clients will join her at HP.
Her defection, following Simon Goldstone’s walkout with Joyce DiDonato and 20 other singers, constitutes a massive blow to IMG’s aspiration to be a supermarket of classical talent. The agency has also lost senior v-p Maurice Whitaker, who looked after a range of instrumentalists. The ease (and contract loops) with which Goldstone took DiDonato has left IMG looking vulnerable to further raids, and HP were not slow to swoop.
Jasper Parrott had been trying to sell his agency last year to Universal Music, but his deal collapsed with a change of management at the record company (see Deal of the Century is Off). He faced a choice of bigging up or bowing out, and took the first course. Capturing Shirley Thomson and her artists is a considerable site forward in HP’s survival strategy.
Where that leaves beleaguered IMG is surrounded by question marks. Its owner, Barrett Wissman, removed himself from day-to-day running of the business after confessing to fraud in a high-profile US political prosecution two years ago. His ownership, however, has not been diminished, nor has his promotional interest in the career of his wife, the cellist Nina Kotova, and other artists.
In the past year, IMG’s only coup was to attract the conductor Semyon Bychkov after the sale of his former agency, Val Walsum. Several senior IMG managers have been seen whispering to their rivals, fostering rumours of further potential walkouts. The rot has not been stopped.
For other 2011 classical moves, see here.
Press release follows.
Anne-Sofie von Otter
 Camilla Tilling (IMG portraits)


www.lawrencezazzo.com


FOR
IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

13
January 2011, London

 

 

Shirley
Thomson joins HarrisonParrott as a Director to lead the expansion of the Vocal
Division

 

HarrisonParrott
is pleased to announce that Shirley Thomson will join the Board of Directors
from April 2011. Currently Deputy Director of IMG Artists Vocal Division,
Shirley will lead the expansion of HarrisonParrott’s vocal list alongside
Associate Director Ian Stones and Special Consultant Paola Quaglia. Iarlaith
Carter
, recently appointed an Associate Director, will also
contribute towards the new team.

 

Chairman and
Joint Managing Director Jasper Parrott commented: “Shirley’s approach to artist
management reflects our own commitment to realising the long term aspirations
and career development of our artists. We are delighted that she will help us
consolidate and further develop the high quality list which Ian Stones has built
in recent years into a distinctive roster commensurate with our list of
conductors and instrumentalists.”

 

Ian
Stones added: “Shirley’s experience and outstanding contribution to the careers
of those artists she represents is well known and respected within the
international classical music industry. I am thrilled to be working with her in
developing the Vocal Division.”

 

“I am
thoroughly looking forward to this new challenge with Harrison Parrott, working
again with some former colleagues and getting to know many new ones”, commented
Shirley Thomson. “It is exciting to be involved in the development of a
department and I feel confident that, together with the excellent and
experienced team already in place, we will be in a strong position to create new
opportunities for both existing and future
clients.”

 

During
her time at IMG Artists Shirley Thomson has helped shaped the careers of Stephen
Milling, Anne Sofie von Otter, Camilla Tilling, Juha Uusitalo and Jennifer
Wilson amongst many others. Her earlier work for the European Community Youth
Orchestra saw her work on tours with such celebrated artists as Claudio Abbado,
Carlo Maria Giulini and Mstislav Rostropovich.

 

HarrisonParrott’s
current vocal roster includes Paul Agnew, Barry Banks, Richard Berkeley-Steele,
Orla Boylan, Susan Bullock, Klara Ek, Bo Kristian Jensen, Helena Juntunen,
Juanita Lascarro, Simon Lim, Garry Magee, Georg Nigl, Lilli Paasikivi, Eliana
Pretorian, Ville Rusanen, Andreas Scholl, Mark Tucker and Angelica Voje. A full
list of HarrisonParrott artists can be found at www.harrisonparrott.com/artists 

 

Further
announcements regarding the expansion of HarrisonParrott’s Vocal Division will
be made in due course. 

 

 

For further information, contact:

 

Antonio
Orlando

Marketing and
PR Manager

HarrisonParrott

antonio.orlando@harrisonparrott.co.uk    

 

 

All year long, Universal Music has been negotiating a merger with the London artists agency, Harrison Parrott. The deal was intended to reboot Universal’s management wing, which has been losing artists and credibility, and to give Jasper Parrott a boost to his pension pot.

The proposed merger has just died, and there are two lines being spun. Parrott is telling his artists, ‘it has been amicably decided not to proceed’. Universal tell me: ‘we’re not getting married, we’re not even living together, but we might screw from time to time.’ Parrott says: ‘we’re working flexibly together’.

Before we look at causes and consequences, let’s write the thing down for what it is – an extremely expensive executive failure. The talks have been going on for so long, and with so much legal time, that the bill is certainly greater than any HP pianist – except perhaps Hélène Grimaud – will earn in a month of Tuesdays. And the failure also delivers a crippling blow to Universal’s aim to own a chunk of everything its artists do, live or recorded.

There is no single reason for the collapse, although I understand there was opposition to it from individuals within both companies and many artists were uncomfortable at the prospect of entering corporate servitude. There were several sticking points in the Universal contract and I am told that both sides were concerned by a change of mood that arose from matters that I exposed in this space and elsewhere. If that’s true, I am very glad of it.

The winners are such HP conductors as Sakari Oramo, Paavo Järvi, Mikko Franck and Susannah Mälkki who would have struggled to reconcile their independence of mind with the corporate rulebook. They and many soloists are heaving a huge sigh of relief.

The losers, aside from Parrott and his partner Linda Marks, are three Universal suits. Michael Lang, head of Deutsche Grammophon, was the lynchpin of the talks; Jeffrey Vanderveen and Manfred Seipt are the joint heads of the Universal agency wing. All will be feeling that bit shakier in their seats today. 

The option for Universal now is either to buy another agency (unlikely) or to write off its own agency as a legacy of its last leader, Chris Roberts, and turn a new, less oppressive leaf in its relationships with the artists that produce its wealth. I know which course I would advise. 

 

All year long, Universal Music has been negotiating a merger with the London artists agency, Harrison Parrott. The deal was intended to reboot Universal’s management wing, which has been losing artists and credibility, and to give Jasper Parrott a boost to his pension pot.

The proposed merger has just died, and there are two lines being spun. Parrott is telling his artists, ‘it has been amicably decided not to proceed’. Universal tell me: ‘we’re not getting married, we’re not even living together, but we might screw from time to time.’ Parrott says: ‘we’re working flexibly together’.

Before we look at causes and consequences, let’s write the thing down for what it is – an extremely expensive executive failure. The talks have been going on for so long, and with so much legal time, that the bill is certainly greater than any HP pianist – except perhaps Hélène Grimaud – will earn in a month of Tuesdays. And the failure also delivers a crippling blow to Universal’s aim to own a chunk of everything its artists do, live or recorded.

There is no single reason for the collapse, although I understand there was opposition to it from individuals within both companies and many artists were uncomfortable at the prospect of entering corporate servitude. There were several sticking points in the Universal contract and I am told that both sides were concerned by a change of mood that arose from matters that I exposed in this space and elsewhere. If that’s true, I am very glad of it.

The winners are such HP conductors as Sakari Oramo, Paavo Järvi, Mikko Franck and Susannah Mälkki who would have struggled to reconcile their independence of mind with the corporate rulebook. They and many soloists are heaving a huge sigh of relief.

The losers, aside from Parrott and his partner Linda Marks, are three Universal suits. Michael Lang, head of Deutsche Grammophon, was the lynchpin of the talks; Jeffrey Vanderveen and Manfred Seipt are the joint heads of the Universal agency wing. All will be feeling that bit shakier in their seats today. 

The option for Universal now is either to buy another agency (unlikely) or to write off its own agency as a legacy of its last leader, Chris Roberts, and turn a new, less oppressive leaf in its relationships with the artists that produce its wealth. I know which course I would advise. 

 

Things are getting tense at the classical artists agency wing of Universal Music. There’s a big merger coming up and three top singers – Elina Garanca, Barbara Fritoli and Luca Pisaroni -have decided they want out.

So when a fourth singer, whose identity I shall withhold for the moment, muttered that he was also thinking of changing ships, the email he got from his agent – leaked to me in the dark of night – gives a rare insight into the balance of terror that prevails between a soloist and the person who supposedly has his or her best interests at heart.

I have deleted three names. The rest is verbatim, the stuff of nightmares. Here’s the email, dated last week:

From: (name withheld)

Sent: 11 August 2010 16:55
To: (….)
Cc: (name withheld)
Subject: UNIVERSAL

 

Dear (…),

 

Thank you for your recent e-mails. I am still very surprised by your reactions, and I want the chance to discuss this with you. You are making a major career decision, and I think you need to be very careful with your next steps.

 

You have been clear with (…) and me over the last few months that you need to make more money. What I don’t understand is the following. You may have earned less in the past two years, but the next three years are excellent for you in terms of your income, and we did this for you. Your financial situation now may be very hard, but it will get better very soon. We have shown this to your accountant, and she has accepted this.

 

In the past two years, (….) and I have done for you things that no one else could have done. We made a recording contract for you with Deutsche Grammophon during a time when very, very few singers get recording contracts. You said yourself that we made your dream come true. In the years to come, these recordings will enhance your career and bring you better work and more money. We have also brought you new productions and brought you to new theatres. In short, your career really is better than it has ever been. I understand that in this economic environment that you are making less money. This is in part due to the prestigious new productions in which you are performing (with long rehearsal periods), but (….) and I have made sure that your income will increase greatly in the next two years. Your career is better now than it has ever been. I promise you that no other managers can do for you what we have done. I know this is true.

 

I need to be very, very clear with you. If you leave Universal, my boss will make very strong decisions about what we can do for you in the future. I have seen this before, and I can predict with great accuracy that Universal will do the following:

 

Start a lawsuit to demand immediate payment of the money you owe Universal.
Stop ALL recordings with Universal, including the potential of not releasing your second recording.
Suggest that we remove you from our current recording.
 

You and I have a great friendship, and you have the same with (….), and even (….). You must know that no one can work better for you than (….) and me. We are now working on making some dates for you that earn a great deal of money. NO ONE has more access to these private dates than we do.

 

Also, I need to point out that you are singing in London and Paris in the future. Only Salzburg is left, and I have asked you to give me a few weeks to try to confirm an engagement for you there. 

 

I think you are making a terrible decision for very emotional reasons. I want to speak with you about this with the hope that you will give us a few more weeks or months to show you that we can bring you the income and the engagements (theatres) that you need. We have also hired a new Italian agent who can help to bring you some large fees for the work in Italy that you need.

 

None of what I write is a threat to you. You know that you are my friend and that (….) and I love to work for you. I think you are making a terrible mistake and you need to allow us to address your concerns.

 

Can we speak about this on Thursday or Friday? I am sure that you are making a terrible decision. I want the best for you. Please be careful with the decision you make.

 

Big hugs, 

  

(name withheld)

 

 

     

 

Things are getting tense at the classical artists agency wing of Universal Music. There’s a big merger coming up and three top singers – Elina Garanca, Barbara Fritoli and Luca Pisaroni -have decided they want out.

So when a fourth singer, whose identity I shall withhold for the moment, muttered that he was also thinking of changing ships, the email he got from his agent – leaked to me in the dark of night – gives a rare insight into the balance of terror that prevails between a soloist and the person who supposedly has his or her best interests at heart.

I have deleted three names. The rest is verbatim, the stuff of nightmares. Here’s the email, dated last week:

From: (name withheld)

Sent: 11 August 2010 16:55
To: (….)
Cc: (name withheld)
Subject: UNIVERSAL

 

Dear (…),

 

Thank you for your recent e-mails. I am still very surprised by your reactions, and I want the chance to discuss this with you. You are making a major career decision, and I think you need to be very careful with your next steps.

 

You have been clear with (…) and me over the last few months that you need to make more money. What I don’t understand is the following. You may have earned less in the past two years, but the next three years are excellent for you in terms of your income, and we did this for you. Your financial situation now may be very hard, but it will get better very soon. We have shown this to your accountant, and she has accepted this.

 

In the past two years, (….) and I have done for you things that no one else could have done. We made a recording contract for you with Deutsche Grammophon during a time when very, very few singers get recording contracts. You said yourself that we made your dream come true. In the years to come, these recordings will enhance your career and bring you better work and more money. We have also brought you new productions and brought you to new theatres. In short, your career really is better than it has ever been. I understand that in this economic environment that you are making less money. This is in part due to the prestigious new productions in which you are performing (with long rehearsal periods), but (….) and I have made sure that your income will increase greatly in the next two years. Your career is better now than it has ever been. I promise you that no other managers can do for you what we have done. I know this is true.

 

I need to be very, very clear with you. If you leave Universal, my boss will make very strong decisions about what we can do for you in the future. I have seen this before, and I can predict with great accuracy that Universal will do the following:

 

Start a lawsuit to demand immediate payment of the money you owe Universal.
Stop ALL recordings with Universal, including the potential of not releasing your second recording.
Suggest that we remove you from our current recording.
 

You and I have a great friendship, and you have the same with (….), and even (….). You must know that no one can work better for you than (….) and me. We are now working on making some dates for you that earn a great deal of money. NO ONE has more access to these private dates than we do.

 

Also, I need to point out that you are singing in London and Paris in the future. Only Salzburg is left, and I have asked you to give me a few weeks to try to confirm an engagement for you there. 

 

I think you are making a terrible decision for very emotional reasons. I want to speak with you about this with the hope that you will give us a few more weeks or months to show you that we can bring you the income and the engagements (theatres) that you need. We have also hired a new Italian agent who can help to bring you some large fees for the work in Italy that you need.

 

None of what I write is a threat to you. You know that you are my friend and that (….) and I love to work for you. I think you are making a terrible mistake and you need to allow us to address your concerns.

 

Can we speak about this on Thursday or Friday? I am sure that you are making a terrible decision. I want the best for you. Please be careful with the decision you make.

 

Big hugs, 

  

(name withheld)