Interviews with Professionals

Manoeuvring in the professional music industry can be somewhat challenging. It is also hard to advise on exactly how to act in a “job application process” considering the fact that different countries and cities and organisations all have different habits and underlying cultures. What is true for one orchestra when it comes to booking young conductors is most definitely false in another. You probably know best how things work in your own country. However, if you do not have insight into the culture or booking process in the country or institution you would like to work with, we recommend that you track down people who are willing to guide and enlighten you. Expecting that your career will carve itself without personal effort on your part, is at least not a recommended route to success. 

In the tabs below, you will find five interviews with professionals in the orchestra business. Though they are only one point of view in their particular working environment, you may find they offer interesting inside information on how some orchestras and agencies work with and relate to young conductors. 

Please note that some of the interviews were filmed during the Covid-19 pandemic and that social restrictions have affected the quality of the interviews. Biographies have been extracted from the interviewees’ official agencies and personal web pages as of August 2021. The views and opinions of the interviewees are personal and the ConductIT team does not endorse any particular opinion.

Click on the page contents here if you would like to hop to a specific interview:

Orchestra Director

Simon Webb – Director of BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Simon Webb is Director of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. He began his career as a cellist, working in the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1996 to 2005. He also chaired the LPO’s board of directors from 2001-2005. He has also worked as a consultant for Arts Council England, has been a trustee of the National Children’s Orchestra, governor of Chethams School of Music in Manchester and a board member of the Association of British Orchestras. As Director of the BBC Philharmonic Simon has built close ties with the Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester University to support student composers and conductors.

In conversation with Mark Heron, Simon covers topics such as 

  • The various types of British orchestras
  • Differences in relationship between those orchestras and their conductors
  • What orchestras may look for in a young conductor
  • How orchestras find new conductors
  • Programming
  • Things that young conductors often get wrong
  • The biggest changes of orchestra’s expectations of conductors from when he started until now.

Watch the interview here or go to the YouTube version of the video to be able to navigate using a content index.

General Manager

Juha Ahonen – General Manager of the Tampere Filharmonia

Juha Ahonen is General Manager of the Tampere Filharmonia. He has previously been manager of the Espoo City Orchestra – Tapiola Sinfonietta, Assistant Curator of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and for five years the event manager of the Helsinki Music Centre. He has also previously worked at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki as a producer, journalist and radio and TV presenter at YLE.

From a Finnish General Manager’s point of view, Juha talks about how they book conductors in his orchestra, the important qualities of a chief conductor, the relationship between a General Manager and the Chief Conductor, artist managers and much more. 

Watch the interview here or go to the YouTube version of the video to be able to navigate using a content index.


Jacob Soelberg is CEO and founder of Nordic Artists Management

Jacob Soelberg is CEO and founder of Nordic Artists Management,  a pan-Nordic agency based in Copenhagen that has become the biggest management company of its kind in the Nordic region. Jacob has over thirty years of experience in the classical music industry locally and internationally. His work with Nordic Artists Management led to his involvement in the International Artist Managers’ Association (IAMA), the leading worldwide association for classical music artist managers and concert agents, of which he was a member of the board of directors in the period 2010 – 2019. 

From an artist manager’s point of view, Jacob talks about the requirements of young conductors today, how to approach an agency, the importance of the conductor’s background and young conductors’ relationship with an agency.

Watch the interview here or go to the YouTube version of the video to be able to navigate using a content index.

Stefana Atlas – Managing Director and Founding Partner of Arabella Arts

Stefana Atlas is Managing Director and Founding Partner of Arabella Arts, a classical management agency.

She is a leader in the music industry specialising in orchestra and artist management, artistic planning, and fundraising. With 30 years of experience in private ventures and cultural institutions such as the New York Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, IMG, and Columbia Artists, she is a trusted point person for artists, festivals, presenters, management agencies, and media producers worldwide. Her areas of expertise range from strategic planning, concert production, touring, project management, contract negotiation, and sponsorships.

In this conversation with Mark Heron, Stefana discuss a variety of topics such as differences in the orchestra scene between America and Europe, challenges for young conductors, agents, competitions, on pacing one’s conducting career, how to get re-invited by orchestras, and much more.

Watch the interview here or go to the YouTube version of the video to be able to navigate using a content index.

Music Librarian

Louise Brimicombe, Librarian of the Hallé Orchestra

Knowing how and what to communicate with music librarians is a skill that conductors usually do not think they need until they suddenly find themselves in a situation where they need it. In conversation with Mark Heron, music librarian of the Hallé Orchestra, Louise Brimicombe, explains all the different sides of handling repertoire – and conductors.

Watch the interview here or go to the YouTube version of the video to be able to navigate using a content index.

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