From Development server
31 August 2020

Columbia Artists, Storied Agency Representing Classical Music and Opera's Biggest Names, Shuts Down

COLUMBIA ARTISTS MANAGEMENT INC., one of the premier agencies representing opera singers, conductors and classical music instrumentalists, announced on Saturday that it will shut its doors on Monday after nearly ninety years in business. 

“After prolonged deliberation and with profound sadness, the owners of Columbia Artists announced today that the company will cease operations effective immediately,” read a statement posted to the agency’s website. “This painful decision has been made as a result of the impact of the world-wide pandemic’s effect on the entire international performing arts community. […] For over eight decades Columbia Artists has been at the forefront of the live performing arts. The unfortunate and unavoidable decision to close this storied firm has been arrived at through sober deliberation, and with intense regret.”  

“Columbia Artists has engaged with a fiduciary to enter into an assignment for the benefit of creditors, a form of insolvency proceeding where assets are liquidated and claims addressed in an orderly manner,” read a statement that was sent to members of the press. “We are working tirelessly to provide each of you concrete guidance on your specific situation in the coming days. In addition, we’re working together with the fiduciary to see a safe place to land for your Columbia Artists relationship.”

Founded at the height of the Great Depression in December 1930 by broadcasting pioneer William Paley and and arts administrator/CBS-founder Arthur Judson, the company initially organized itself in the style of Hollywood's studio system, featuring eight independent artist-managers. In 1970, Judson was succeeded by Ronald A. Wilford, who, in addition to running CAMI, personally managed the careers of some of the most important conductors of the twentieth century, including Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado, James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti, Kurt Masur and Colin Davis. Wilford served as president at Columbia Artists from 1970 through 2000, at which point he became the firm’s chairman and chief executive; he held those roles until his death in 2015. Wilford was succeeded in 2000 by Tim Fox, who was named the company’s president and CEO. 

CAMI oversaw the historic careers of artists that included conductors Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy and Otto Klemperer, pianists Vladimir Horowitz and Van Cliburn, and singers that included Leontyne Price, Renata Tebaldi, Cesare Siepi, Montserrat Caballé, Risë Stevens, Richard Tucker and Jussi Björling. Contemporary artists managed by the agency included Valery Gergiev, Isabel Leonard, Russell Thomas and Brenda Rae. 

In 2017, the firm attempted to retire the CAMI acronym and rebrand itself as simply Columbia Artists. “The core mission of Columbia Artists has not changed since its founding,” noted Fox in a statement issued at the time. “Our goal is to enable our clients to develop their artistic potential to the fullest, according to their unique personalities and vision, even as we develop their commercial possibilities in the most fitting and rewarding ways. That said, even for industry veterans like Doug Sheldon and me, the challenges are exceptional. Everybody faces marketing challenges today, individuals and institutions alike.” spacer 


More information can be found at Columbia Artists

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