September 2 2020
August 29 was marked by a historic and deeply tragic event for the entire music industry. Legendary management in the United States and around the world – Columbia Artist Management Inc. announced it will shut down. This company has worked on the market for more than 90 years and during this time has represented such famous artists as Horowitz, Michelangeli, van Cliburn, Bernstein, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Rostropovich. I was lucky enough to start working with CAMI right after winning The Tchaikovsky Competition. As a result, we were together for more than 20 years. I worked with the famous Douglas Sheldon.
This decision to stop working is a sad consequence of the time we live in, when our music industry is collapsing before our eyes (especially in America), the world where nothing can be planned for the near future. Moreover, orchestras are being fired without payments, employees are being cut, and musicians are being left on the streets. And so far the light at the end of the tunnel cannot be not expected. I do not want to think that this is the first company in a series of bankruptcies of other well-known managements. But this is definitely a very big blow for our entire industry.
Modern management of artists in classical music is significantly different from what it was before, let’s say, 50 years ago. Back then, the impresario was an ally and collaborator to a musician who not only helped to build a career for his client. The Manager had to see and form a strategy for the artist’s development, help him and practically live his life. Like Sol Yurok, for example. Douglas Sheldon is one of that generation of impresarios.
This is like the modern and previous generation of pilots. Previously, planes were more dependent on the actions of pilots, the crew included both navigators and flight mechanics. The pilots landed the planes themselves. And now there are only two pilots in the cockpit, who mostly monitor the operation of computers. Therefore, current managers are people who are mostly focused on performing technical and tactical tasks, they, for example, reserve tickets, book hotels, and artists themselves are engaged in career development strategies and search for new opportunities. CAMI is therefore a unique company with a great experience of both approaches.
And, of course, this event cannot but raise the question of what will happen next. How will we live? In a global context. I hope that all these difficulties are temporary, that everything will be ok and return to normal. Because an audience cannot live without classical music. I am sure that in the end we will overcome this uncertainty. I now have the opportunity to go on stage again every day. And I value it very much. Now every appearance on the stage is akin to the strongest happiness. The stage used to be the best place in the world for me, but now this feeling is especially acute. Now there are few places in the world where musicians can boast of such an opportunity. Europe is closing again. It is unclear what will happen in the fall and spring of next year with the tours. All the schedules are bursting at the seams. Everything changes every day. Here is a simple example: in one European city 800 tickets are sold for a concert. If the number of patients increases in a few days, the number of seats will be reduced to 300. Accordingly, the concert will be canceled. This makes everyone desperate: the audience, the musicians, the management, directors of the halls. A difficult time for us, in a word. But you know that even in the most difficult situations, I am trying to maintain a positive attitude and look optimistically into the future, so no matter what, we hope that everything will eventually return to normal.