Guest post by Caroline Bjälstam
I can imagine that an Artistic Director receives hundreds of proposals per day from artist managers like me around the world, wanting their artist to perform in that beautiful concert hall. Many emails are probably not even read and or considered. It is partly understandable: it takes time to go through new proposals, and time is money. It is easier to hire that artist who has already managed to reach the top by playing in important concert halls and has achieved excellent reviews in the media.
If you are in this industry, you know that a lot has to do with the right connections and the right name. If your artist has the right name, he or she is automatically “in”. These top artists are wonderful players, no doubt about that, but do they necessarily transmit their inner feelings and emotions to the public?
The other day I listened to a wonderful concert pianist who is world famous. I listened to a recording of Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 and technically it was outstanding. Absolutely outstanding. But I did not feel anything when he interpreted the piece. For me it was totally empty, I could not feel what he was trying to transmit. I am sure that anyone with sense for music would feel the same, but in a concert hall this name would sell. He is already famous.
I sent the recording of the same piece interpreted by the artist I represent, István Székely to a connection I have on Linkedin, Christina Cooper, who is a Performer Coach. She took time to listen to the recording and responded that she was totally blown away by this recording: “What stuck me the most was the intimacy and connection, it was as though every note was speaking from the essence of his soul. I can see why you choose to work with István”. Yes, this is the reason I have chosen to co-work with him. For this exact reason, because he gives a true meaning to my work as a Manager. I believe in him 100% and I know that those who decide to contract him also share my belief. His playing leaves an impact on people. Not only is he an extraordinary and technically amazing pianist but every single note has a special meaning, and this is what I want the world to see and hear. Many artists seek and desire fame, maybe because they think it will bring validation. The reason I choose to work with my artist is because I know he has the ability to transmit something very powerful to the audience and leave an impact on people. I want people around me to stay with his name and remember the effect his playing had on them. This is my goal, to spread this joy and feeling to other people around me.
Recently, István performed Liszt’s Concerto no. 1 and Totentanz as a soloist with the extraordinary Academic Symphony Orchestra of the North Caucasus State Safanov Philharmonic. The public was absolutely astonished and the Artistic Director said afterwards that she expected success but not at this level. “It was incredible!! Absolutely sophisticated! Absolutely impeccable, I mean your Liszt“, were the words after by Svetlana Berezhnaya, Artistic Director and Concert Pianist.
If I were an Artistic Director, I would enjoy every moment listening to beautiful recordings sent to me and I would choose an artist that truly touches my soul. I would dare to change the pattern and bring new life in to my concert hall. After all, a lot is about marketing and how you present the artist that will perform. Not all public are aware and are able to follow the names of the top pianists, they trust fully what the concert hall presents. But unfortunately, I am not an Artistic Director…..
Caroline Bjälstam holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from Stockholm University, Sweden, and is the President Founder of Rotary Club L’Alfàs del Pi International.
Caroline Bjälstam Artist Management is a classical music artist management company based in Spain and the official Manager of the Hungarian concert pianist István Székely. The company is based in Spain and provide Worldwide Management.