A vision for Maestro Arts
Jordi Martín Mont has recently moved into the role of Managing Director at Maestro Arts, taking over from Rachel van Walsum, who remains a Director and Artist Manager. Jordi has worked at Maestro Arts since its foundation in 2011 and becomes responsible for taking forwards the company’s founding vision. In this interview, he explains his philosophy and maps out the future
How did you come to Maestro Arts?
I’d worked with Rachel and Joeske van Walsum at the original Van Walsum agency and we’d always had an affinity in our approach to artist management. When they decided to start again after their break, they called me to tell me about their new project. At the time I was looking for a new horizon. I’d always admired them and I found their concept of combining music with other arts intriguing, so I jumped at the chance to join them. I learnt so much from their strategic approach, which they pursue fearlessly and creatively. It’s been fascinating to see our transformation from a start-up into a grown-up business, especially at key moments such as when Tom Hull joined us in 2016, bringing new strengths to the company and marking a new phase in our development.
What is your goal with artists?
It’s different for each one – depending on what you see in them. It’s not fixed or something that is necessarily there from day one. A manager interprets an artist and helps them formulate for themselves what they are about. An important part of the relationship is for an artist to receive an objective view of their possibilities – someone who sees these, articulates them and helps the artist express them. The manager is able to transmit these to promoters and audiences, and helps the artist make decisions about opportunities that move them towards their own goals. There’s a sense of partnership, an ongoing conversation and exchange. And while a manager shapes an artist, the artist shapes the manager, too.
‘We are passionate about creativity and talent, developing them in a holistic way and finding new avenues for their fulfilment’
What are the Maestro Arts values?
First of all is a love for what we do and for doing it well. We are passionate about creativity and talent, developing them in a holistic way and finding new avenues for their fulfilment.
Trust is very important. This process doesn’t work without it. It can be very personal for an artist to let someone in. This trust also applies to all our dealings. At the moment there are many examples of cancellations and last-minute changes, which is not always pleasant, but if you come from a position of trust it’s easier because people know you have their best interests at heart.
There is also patience and an understanding that it takes time to build relationships and that there are not always quick fixes.
It’s important to listen. When developing artistic collaborations, you need to understand how each of the partners works, which takes sensitivity and a good ear. It also takes creativity and imagination, and we value those qualities just as much within our team as in our artists.
In a company our size, a sense of team work is essential. We all have different interests, and have grown differently, but we all learn from each other and everyone has the chance to make a difference. Everyone in the company is totally committed to music, with a sense of curiosity about other art forms that is central to our vision.
What makes a Maestro Arts artist?
Our top priority is quality, but all our artists also have something to say and are champions of music. They are happy to push limits and able to contextualise music within a wider orbit. That’s been our goal since the beginning, both with artists and the partnerships we take on.
‘There is a lot of work to be done to make sure that people who aren’t yet interested in classical music can discover something valuable in it, and everyone in the business shares that duty’
What responsibilities do managers have towards the music business?
There is a narrative that the role of an artist manager is to exploit the music business. That description is unjustified. We take our role seriously. We play a part in spotting talent, promoting it and creating the conditions for viable careers so that the arts can flourish.
There is a lot of work to be done to make sure that people who aren’t yet interested in classical music can discover something valuable in it, and everyone in the business shares that duty.
The way to get people interested in something is to expose them to it at a high level. If you offer people an experience of the highest quality, originality and energy, the response will be different than if they come in contact with something that isn’t so special.
What are the main challenges to the business, aside from Covid?
There has been a diminishing of attention spans in today’s celebrity culture, so that our society is based on speed and high levels of excitement, and little patience. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not in tune with the art we’re promoting.
On the other hand, it’s precisely because of this tendency towards speed that people find solace in its very opposite. But an audience has to be receptive and if their brains don’t work like that it becomes more difficult. That is a challenge for art in general, which is why you need good practitioners.
There is a saying that you’ve only truly understood something when you can explain it to someone else, which is what a great artist does. Take, for example, François-Xavier Roth’s recent recordings of Schumann symphonies. Schumann has always been considered a difficult composer with disorganised instrumentation and too many ideas that people can’t understand. And now here comes a conductor who has a very clear idea of what the symphonies can be and explains it, and suddenly everything becomes clear. He’s able to express it with grace and emotion and suddenly it’s not complicated at all. That’s what we need. So, one of the challenges is to find musicians like this and to support them.
What are the opportunities?
An advantage of all this speed is that it’s much easier to get people together to collaborate, compared with before the digital revolution. It’s never been easier to work with other people around the world. There are also interesting new technologies that can be used in artistic ways, and artists can find innovative ways to be creative and new ways to present classical music that didn’t exist before. Our role is to enable these developments in a way that is in tune with the essence of each artist.
‘The pandemic brings with it a sense of loss, but we’ve held on to the most important element, which is the talent – whether that’s our artists or our team’
How has Covid affected Maestro Arts?
Our artists have needed a lot of support and we’ve worked really hard to provide that. Lockdown also meant missing contact with each other. As a company we have always been prudent and properly managed, which means there has been a reservoir to draw on.
I’m philosophical. There is a pandemic and that means our expectations have to be adjusted. If you have locusts in your field, you can’t expect a bumper crop. So there has been a certain element of acceptance, but also hope that it’s not going to last forever and that we’ll still be here when it ends. That doesn’t mean being passive, but that we’re focused on adapting and rebuilding. Perhaps even learning something from it. The pandemic brings with it a sense of loss, but we’ve held on to the most important element, which is the talent – whether that’s our artists or our team. That’s what will pull us through, because with it comes our reputation and people’s trust. Once concert life is back, those will still be there.
What are your aspirations for Maestro Arts?
Over the last nine years we have assembled from scratch an excellent team of professionals, serving a thriving list of inspiring artists and pioneering projects.
Having been with the company since the beginning, I’m not an outsider. I don’t see myself as a disruptor – rather as a builder. My aim is for the company to continue to grow in influence and relevance, meeting the evolving needs of our business and being a responsive port of call for creative ideas and talent.