The Naxos nexus

This joint venture seems like a very good idea for both parties:

…Naxos of America will begin physical and digital distribution of the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s premiere record label CSO Resound.

The first recording will be a performance of Mahler Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” featuring distinguished Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink, the orchestra’s principal conductor since 2006. Guest soloists include soprano Miah Persson and mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn; the Chicago Symphony Chorus is led by chorus director and conductor Duain Wolfe.

“With Naxos of America, we have aligned our own label, CSO Resound, with a creative and aggressive sales partner,” says Vanessa Moss, CSO Vice President of Orchestra and Building Operations. “We look forward to working with their talented sales and marketing team to reach more of our devoted fans, and also to introduce new listeners to our catalogue of recorded work, which captures the CSO’s remarkable sound and extraordinary artistic partnerships.”

Jim Selby, Naxos’ CEO, commented, “Naxos of America is delighted and honored to be the distribution partner for CSO Resound, the record label of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and without question one of America’s most esteemed musical institutions. The label has recorded and released some valuable documents of one of the world’s greatest orchestras in repertoire for which the CSO is ideally suited. We look forward to utilizing all of our sales and marketing resources to make CSO Resound a label worthy of this unique American musical treasure.”

Naxos is probably the one record label that still makes money on classical recording. They have a vast catalog, and probably the most eclectic list of recorded repertoire of any classical label in history (although they have a policy of not duplicating any repertoire; one piece, one recording). What’s interesting about this announcement is that they’ve not (at least to the best of my knowledge) acted as distributor for another label until this spring, when they announced a partnership with Cedille Records, a Chicago-based non-profit classical label.

Up until now, their business model has been to buy masters from artists, many very obscure, for very little money and distribute them at budget prices. It’s worked spectacularly well for them over the years. Of course, this represents a new business model for the CSO as well, which only recently started making its own recordings and has now apparently solved the distribution puzzle (which, to my mind, is the hardest part of selling recordings world-wide) in a way that its rivals can only envy.

It’ll be interesting to see the effect of this partnership on the CSO’s CD sales.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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