Classical leader Universal Music embarks on worldwide expansion program

LONDON, October 19, 2010 – Following its first global classical music meeting in more than five years, Universal Music Group has launched a significant expansion programme for its flagship classical labels, Deutsche Grammophon and Decca Classics, which includes new artist signings, catalogue development and a round of senior executive appointments.

Among the newest artist developments are the signing of Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and American cellist Alisa Weilerstein to Decca Classics, and Armenian violinist Mikhail Simonyan to Deutsche Grammophon, and the preparation and recording of debut albums by recently announced signings such as German soprano Mojca Erdmann and Montenegran guitarist Miloš Karadaglic, both to Deutsche Grammophon.

Universal Music’s worldwide classical business, acknowledged as the long-time market leader, is now under the direction of Max Hole, who was named Chief Operating Officer of Universal Music Group International (UMGI) on July 1, 2010. Among his first appointments was that of Costa Pilavachi to Senior VP, Classical Artists & Repertoire; one of the classical music world’s most experienced executives, Pilavachi is a former president of EMI Classics and Decca.

Max Hole announced at the conference two new appointments to Universal Music’s senior classical management team: Lut Behiels as Director, Classical Marketing, and Barry Holden as Director, Classical Catalogue. Behiels’ background includes three years as Head of International Marketing & Promotion for Deutsche Grammophon; Holden joins with eleven years’ experience as Head of Marketing at the pioneering independent classical label, Naxos.

On the central classical team, Behiels and Holden join Costa Pilavachi; Florence Siebert, who earlier this year was appointed VP, Business Development; and Marek Filipiak, recently promoted to the new position of Chief Financial Officer for the division.

Classical music teams from Universal Music companies in more than 20 countries gathered for the worldwide meeting on Oct. 11-13 in London, to plan A&R, marketing and business development strategies. Star pianist Alice Sara Ott was among the artists showcased in evening performances, as were Mojca Erdmann, Miloš Karadaglic, Mikhail Simonyan, Alisa Weilerstein and young Luxembourg pianist Francesco Tristano, just signed to Universal Music Germany.

Deutsche Grammophon superstar Anne-Sophie Mutter was present to discuss plans for the 2011 celebration of her 35 years as a concert performer, and for her Circle of Friends Foundation, which supports young, talented violin, viola, cello and contrabass soloists worldwide. Mutter has been recording for the yellow label since 1978. In London, she met with Frank Briegmann, President of Universal Music Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Deutsche Grammophon; Michael Lang, President, Deutsche Grammophon; Dickon Stainer, President, Decca Records Group; and Paul Moseley, General Manager, Decca Classics.

Max Hole commented, “Deutsche Grammophon and Decca Classics have incomparable rosters of superstars and new talent. With their artistry, coupled with our labels’ commitment, imagination and innovation, the best people in the industry and an unmatchable catalogue, Universal Music intends to assert its classical music leadership as never before.”

Further signings and appointments will be announced in due course.