Internationally-renowned conductor, motivational speaker and after dinner host, Charles Hazlewood has won hearts and minds around world with his ground-breaking musical projects. Moving audiences to laughter and occasionally tears, his presentations on leadership, trust, creativity and change have inspired leading organisations including Google, the US Federal Reserve, Mulberry and TED.
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.
He can 'riff' on almost any subject and relate it to music, tailoring his anecdotal, interactive presentations to the composition and contexts of each audience – in one performance, he will engage in a conversation with the crowd; in another, he will blend film, sculpture or movement into a piece.
Drawing metaphors between a working orchestra and a typical business environment, he explains that once you have experienced making music with others, you have experienced what it is to trust, lead, risk and succeed.
‘Opening the mind to music opens possibilities,’ chimes the innovative conductor, arguably the Heston Blumenthal of his field.
Sharing the highs and lows of his career, which has taken him around the world with some of the finest orchestras, Charles attributes his success to his creative leadership style, eschewing the dictator model of conducting orchestral music and reinventing the genre along the way.
After graduating from Oxford University where he was an organ scholar, he was determined to blow the dust off the set-up of a traditional symphony orchestra: dismissing wordy programme notes and stuffy concert halls, he began to chat about the ‘ingredients’ of music – all kinds including jazz and pop - and explain why it is worth playing.
He strives to prove that music – the most universal language we have as a species - can overcome barriers of class and culture. Indeed, he has led numerous ground-breaking musical projects, including his unique opera company of untrained singers from the poorest South African township: although derided at the time, the project ultimately garnered international awards and acclaim.
Charles also founded the first orchestra of disabled musicians—the paraorchestra—which performed alongside Coldplay at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, and to the European Parliament and Barack Obama in 2014. They continue to tour around the globe in order to demonstrate the incredible creative talent of disabled people.
In 2008, he launched the 'Charles Hazlewood All Stars' at Glastonbury Festival, and, the following year, he made his conducting debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in London, and the Malmo Symphony in Sweden. He also records and tours with his own orchestras, Excellent Device, and the Army of Generals.
As well as speaking at TED Global and TEDx, he is a familiar figure on British television, including several landmark series on composers. He occupies a central position on BBC Radio 3, with Discovering Music, where he deconstructs great orchestral music, and explores his vast and catholic music tastes on Radio 2's The Charles Hazlewood Show.
His speaking topics include:
- The benefits of music: trust, teamwork, creativity, confidence and well-being
- Leading the perfect performance: what does a conductor do except wave his hands about?
- Innovation and creative leadership
- Making music around the globe: the universal language