Interview An Interview with Charles Hazelwood

An Interview with Charles Hazelwood

Charismatic, entertaining and inspiring, Charles Hazlewood is a globally-renowned orchestra conductor on a mission: to expose the role that music can play in all our lives.

Charles Hazlewood

Which event has been your favourite and why?

My favourite event is always my most recent one!

How did the corporate speaking start?

I needed to restore my beautiful old Somerset cider barn for recording and rehearsal purposes. I was wracking my brains at how to raise the cash when I was introduced to a senior exec in PWC who is a big music fan. When I started talking about my plans, he immediately said he thought PWC might pay for it, in return for some inspirational sessions with me and his senior management. I spent a delightful day with them, the upshot being they became a giant rhythm orchestra, and I got my barn sorted!

Can you remember your first speaking engagement?

That was my first speaking engagement, although, bear in mind I have been talking to audiences at my concerts, and doing radio and TV gigs through my entire career, so it didn’t feel like the first engagement. I love talking to people!

And your most recent event?

Most recent event was persuading 40 jaded intellectuals, corporates and journalists to sing a complex Welsh round (which they did magnificently in the end) on a 'trust' themed conference at Portmeirion.

If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?

I would love to have spoken at Mandela's release, the ultimate celebration of the human spirit, riding high on the extraordinary waves of singing which you encounter on a daily basis in South Africa.

Who would you most like to share a platform with?

I'd most like to share a platform with Barack Obama.

Are you as happy speaking to 50 as to 1,000 people?

I am happy speaking to any group large or small. I have addressed 6,000 in the Albert Hall, and 10 at the Wigmore Hall. In my book, anything is possible.

How do you like to be introduced?

I like to be introduced as a conductor. Because everything I do stems from that, conducting is enabling.

Do you always like to do a briefing call before the event?

I always like a briefing call before the event. That way I can really focus in on the needs of an organisation and its people.

What are the most asked for topics?

Trust is a regular topic, as is preserving individuality in a mass world, and risk. These are key areas for any music maker.

Is your speech interactive with audience participation?

My sessions are inevitably interactive. Pure spectatorship has limitations: people engage more meaningfully if they share some of the responsibility. I am all about communication, from me to others, from them back to me.

Do you have any funny/embarrassing speaking anecdotes you care to share?

At my first ever rehearsal with a professional orchestra I was eulogising at the cello section about how stunningly they had just played a phrase, whilst fiddling with my baton. Suddenly I stuck it in my eye. The jaws of 100-odd jaded orchestral musicians fell open. They had never seen this happen before (and it was my first eye stabbing incident as well). I attempted to continue the rehearsal. There was a hole in the white of my eye, and barely suppressed hilarity all around.

Favourite film?

Withnail & I.

Favourite book?

Favourite holiday destination?

Country or townie?

Country!!! I like regular fixes of the city, then I like to escape.

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