freelance Arts Consultant
After leaving Cambridge University in 1967 where he studied law and modern languages, Stephen Wright co-founded the Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company, uniting all the drama societies at those two universities to tour a Shakespeare play.
Between 1971 and 1975 he then set up and ran the European office of an American concert management agency, Shawconcerts Ltd, where he worked for – amongst others – Vladimir Horowitz, Jacqueline du Pré, Garrick Ohlsson, Maureen Forrester, and Frederica von Stade. Then in 1975 he joined Harold Holt Ltd, later becoming Joint Managing Director of this well-known concert agency, where he looked after a group of 30 artists (such as Mariss Jansons, Semyon Bychkov, Sir Neville Marriner, Yuri Temirkanov, Seiji Ozawa, and Sir John Eliot Gardiner).
In 1991 he and his division left Harold Holt to create and set up, as Managing Director, IMG Artists Europe. As well as managing artists and touring orchestras, Stephen Wright was also responsible for the opening of further IMG Artists offices in Paris and Asia. IMG Artists subsequently became a leading classical concert agency in Europe.
Major international projects devised and undertaken under his direction by IMG Artists Europe included a leading consultancy contract with Petronas, the national oil company of Malaysia. IMG Artists created for them a new international symphony orchestra, and advised on all aspects of staffing the new state-of-the-art Petronas Philharmonic Hall which opened in Kuala Lumpur in the summer of 1998. This five-year contract involved the opening of a new IMG Artists office in Kuala Lumpur, setting up a subscription series for the new international orchestra of 100 concerts a year, as well as the selection of a Music Director.
Whilst MD of IMG Artists, Stephen Wright also established a new international audio-visual arm – the first two international television/video films which he conceived and produced concentrated on a history of the great conductors of this century (entitled “The Art of Conducting”), and of the great singers of the 20th century (entitled “The Art of Singing“). These productions were shown worldwide on television and issued on DVD. An award-winning portrait of Sviatoslav Richter followed in addition to “The Art of Piano”, “The Art of Violin”, and portraits of Ferenc Fricsay and Yevgeny Mravinsky. Recent television/DVD projects that he has produced include “The Art of Chopin”, “A Portrait of Arturo Toscanini”, and concerts featuring the Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Vladimir Jurowski, and Vladimir Ashkenazy.
There has also been a range of audio projects that he has set up: first of all, a major joint venture with the BBC, to issue on CD the greatest performances of the past extant in their audio archive, under the BBC Legends label. IMG Artists also produced for the Boston Symphony Orchestra their 100th anniversary commemorative set (featuring 12 CDs of “live” performances from their archive). In a further joint venture with EMI, IMG Artists issued over three years 60 2-CD portraits (involving live unissued and rare material) of the great conductors of the 20th century in addition to a major collection of television programmes/DVDs entitled Classic Archive, made up of outstanding television archive concerts featuring BBC and INA material.
In 2005, Stephen Wright resigned his position as Managing Director of IMG Artists, in order to devote his experience and areas of expertise to a new career as a freelance Arts Consultant.
In the next few years, the organisations for whom he acted as senior executive consultant included UBS, the Peter Moores Foundation, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Medici Arts, Theatre Projects, BBC Music and Arts Television, and Radio 3. He was also Executive Producer for the Peter Moores Foundation on the Kenneth Branagh film of “The Magic Flute”. He also set up and launched the DVD and CD label, ICA Classics – which is producing a wide range of historic material (for instance the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s television archives being released for the first time), as well as doing project consultancy work, such as a long-term audio-visual strategy for the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra, and an integrated audio-visual policy for the Gulbenkian Foundation for all its musical and visual arts departments.