Edna Landau
Edna in the News
July 18, 2008
Artist Manager Stays Calm in Power Outage

by Elaine Guregian

Beacon Journal

Edna Landau has spent plenty of time in darkened auditoriums in her 30 years as a professional artist manager. She also has a story or two to tell about the emergencies that occasionally happen in the classical music business.

Maybe that's what allowed Landau to keep her poise and go on with the show by candlelight at Thursday's Akron Roundtable speech at Tangier. Right after Landau was introduced by Barbara Feld, executive director of the Tuesday Musical Association, the lights went out. (The cause, it was announced later, was a traffic accident on Market Street outside the restaurant.)

Probably Landau, a polished and personable speaker with ideas to spare, will incorporate the incident into her large repertoire of stories. Landau was quick to poke fun at herself, but in her career she has helped artists such as pianists Evgeny Kissin and Lang Lang, violinist Hilary Hahn and conductors Franz Welser-Moest and Alan Gilbert reach international prominence. Many of the performers in her stable have played in Akron's Tuesday Musical series, which is how she came to be invited to Akron.

Landau began her career as a teacher, then teamed with Charles Hamlen to form Hamlen/Landau, a New York organization that managed the careers of young musicians. The sports management organization International Management Group bought out Hamlen/Landau in 1984 and renamed it IMG Artists.

This fall, Landau begins in the new position of director of career development at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. There, she'll design curriculum and teach students how to take charge of their careers.

The Colburn School's recently established Conservatory is one of only two in the country that provide a full ride for the small group of students that it accepts. The other, much older, institution is the top-ranked Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.

The imagination that young performers bring to their work is much higher than when performers simply came onstage and played, Landau said.

''The younger people realize they need to be so much more than performers,'' Landau said. Now, they're willing to go out and find alternative venues and play programs that cross musical boundaries.

Landau said that depending on the situation, performers should also make a point to:

  • Talk to the audience about the music.
  • Talk to donors from the organizations that present them.
  • Present more cross-cultural programs.

Landau is upbeat about the classical music business, but concerned that for financial reasons, today's presenters are less likely to take a chance on a young performer. She also stressed the need to build the next generation of listeners.

Speaking privately afterward, Landau said she'll teach students how to find management but also to manage their own careers, and to learn about the industry, including online aspects. Students need to understand the differences (stylistic and cultural) between orchestras before they audition, and whether competitions will help them advance. She'll teach them how to communicate through resumes and blogs. And she'll teach them how to protect themselves, physically and emotionally, from the rigors of a career.

From Landau, students will learn things they normally wouldn't in school, like her observation that audiences expect performers to be well informed about topics besides music. And let's not forget an important insight: Conductors like a soloist who can tell a joke.

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