In the latest episode of the Musiio podcast, classical music agent and consultant Elise Brown joins host Hazel Savage to discuss issues facing the classical music industry such as diversity, innovation, and socioeconomic barriers.

Elise shares her experiences navigating a field where she's a unique figure, managing superstar talents and advocating for inclusivity. Listen to the conversation to understand the dynamics of diversity and change in the classical sphere.

Check out the full episode:

1. Classical Music is Evolving through Multi-Art Collaborations:

Multi-art collaborations mark a shift in how classical music is conceived and presented, breaking from the confines of the concert hall to offer audiences enriched, immersive experiences.

Multi art collaborations involve experts from different fields such as fine art. Elise cites an example of a Mussorgsky performance combined with an art installation. There’s huge potential and appetite for these collaborations which can keep classical music performances relevant and appeal to new audiences.

2. Empowering Artists to Pioneer New Projects:

Elise advocates for a profound shift in the artist-agent relationship, where artists are encouraged to steer their creative visions. This approach is essential for fostering innovation within the classical music industry. 

"We let the artist lead with their ideas," says Elise. That stands in pretty sharp contrast to the traditional artist-agent relationship where concert halls are the main performance spaces. One of those ideas was “An evening with” concert with Julian Lloyd Webber performed by Jiaxin Lloyd Webber after he lost the ability to play cello.

3. The Impact of Representation and Mentorship:

The visibility of diverse role models and access to mentorship are crucial for fostering an inclusive classical music environment. Elise's personal experience highlights the transformative power of representation. 

She reflects on attending her first conference as an intern: "I saw two black women in the whole conference, and they were very senior and very well respected... I saw something I could aspire to, which was amazing." 

That visibility emphasizes the importance of diversity at all levels of the industry for inspiring the next generation of classical music professionals.

4. Challenging the Status Quo through Socioeconomic Diversity:

Elise points to socioeconomic diversity as the foundational element of inclusivity efforts within classical music. “It’s the most important thing,” she says.

“When I go and speak to orchestras, I find it really interesting when the white working class musicians say, the reason I'm here playing my lovely instrument is because I had free music tuition growing up… That is not possible now.”

Even current diversity efforts can fall short. Elise highlights a programme where a music conservatoire goes into deprived area to do music making workshops for six weeks with some top performers having the chance to get a year of free tuition. “Then what?” she asks. She believes that there's a government responsibility to fund creative education, not just STEM subjects.

5. A Coffee Meeting can Lead to Great New Collaborations

Elise is a superb networker, and strongly advocates for taking a coffee meeting. She recounts how a coffee with entertainment entrepreneur Kwame Kwanten became an unexpected pitch to put on a performance of jazz group Blue Lab Beats’ music but reorchestrated by London's diverse Multi-Story Orchestra. The project gained momentum and was ultimately performed at the Royal Albert Hall, filmed by YouTube and released on Blue Note/Universal.

“And that was just from a coffee,” says Elise, “so I love coffees.”

For more insights into diversity in classical music, innovation, and why "crossover" is a dirty word, check out the full episode.

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