Edna Landau
Edna in the News
October 11, 2011
Legendary artist manager Edna Landau to speak at Toronto seminar

by Mike Cohen

Jewish Tribune, Canada

TORONTO - As the co-founder of the prestigious IMG Artists in the United States and director of the operation for more than two decades, Edna Landau knows what it takes to make it in show business.

Now semi-retired and acting as a consultant to the Colburn Conservatory of Music, there is nothing she likes more than travelling to conferences and giving career advice to people who want to make it as classical singers, instrumentalists, conductors or composers.

This is why the woman - often referred to as 'The Grande Dame of Artist Management' - was asked to be part of the International Resource Centre for Performing Arts (IRCPA) Career Moves seminar in Toronto for classical performing artists. The program takes place on Nov. 12 and 13 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on both days at the Gallery of the Toronto Centre for the Arts (5040 Yonge St.).

Ask Edna in Person: A Q&A will be held on the Sunday as Landau headlines a much anticipated session, fielding questions from participants. Organizers note that the Career Moves sessions are also recommended for presenters, managers, publicists, coaches, teachers, corporate sponsors, foundation representatives, and even parents of gifted children - anyone who wants to understand the requirements and demands of artists' careers.

Landau won't attend the first seminar on Saturday, Nov. 12, a panel discussion featuring presenters, managers, a publicist, critics and artists. That is because she is Shomer Shabbos.

"Being observant has presented its challenges over the years," Landau told the Jewish Tribune in an interview. "I have had to turn down many invitations for many conferences that occurred over Shabbat. I grew up in an orthodox Jewish family and had a Jewish education. This has always been a very important part of my life and, in this business, I honestly believe I would have burnt out had I not been observant. During those years with IMG, things got pretty intense. But I always knew that come Friday night I would have a 24-hour break from answering the phone or doing any work."

That being said, Landau is thrilled to be coming to Toronto and praises seminar organizer Ann Summers Dossena for her dedication to young performers. How did she first get into the business?

"It is something that happened without a plan," she admitted. "I was teaching in Manhattan for five years and one day I decided I wanted to be around performers.
Reading the New York Times I saw an ad for an organization called Young Concert Artists. It was a clerical job as the assistant to the director. They wanted someone full-time; I wanted to work part-time as I had a young child at home. Well they hung the phone up on me. I ended up going down there in person. They gave me some tests and I got the job. I was there for five years and really learned everything about the business."

Landau next teamed up with artist manager Charles Hamlen. Together they launched their own company, which was ultimately acquired by International Management Group and became IMG Artists. She went on to guide the careers of some of today's leading instrumentalists and conductors, including violinists Itzhak Perlman and Hilary Hahn, while also identifying and nurturing young superstars of tomorrow.

During the course of her tenure, IMG Artists grew from an office of four employees in New York to become the world's leading performing arts management with offices around the globe.

Landau marvels at how the business has changed since she first started.

"Arts journalism has changed dramatically, in the sense that there are far less opportunities for young artists to be reviewed in the major publications but the possibility does exist to get coverage in the multitude of blogs that address the arts," she said. "Thanks to the internet and YouTube, artists are no longer forced to rely on reviewers to help build their profile and can build a following through their own concerted efforts.

"Also, there is a proliferation of informal and more intimate venues in which classical music can be heard such as Le Poisson Rouge in New York, where some of the barriers that intimidated uninitiated audiences have been broken down and larger numbers of young people are attending concerts."

It has been four years since Landau formally left IMG. Initially her role with the Colburn Conservatory of Music was as director of career development. Once a month she would fly to Los Angeles and spend a week there. Now as a consultant she works from her home in the suburbs just outside New York City and makes it a point to speak at conferences where she hopes she can encourage young people seeking answers. She also has her own Ask Edna blog.

Her son Elie Landau currently serves as associate general manager for 101 Productions, Ltd., a Manhattan-based theatrical management firm, which now handles the Broadway production of The Addams Family starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth.

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