Schwenkow Sotto Voce Over Classic Lawsuit

DEAG chief Peter Schwenkow says he doesn’t want to comment on a row that’s rocked the world of classical music, although he says he’s confident that the fallout won’t affect his company’s business.

A row has brewed because U.S.-born Jeffrey Vanderveen, one of the most powerful figures in the classical music business, quit his job as senior vice-president of IMG Artists to head up the new Universal Music Classical Artists Management and Productions.

IMG, which has offices in London, Paris, Lucca, Singapore, New York and Los Angeles, is miffed to the point that it’s issued a lawsuit against Universal that claims Vanderveen has been poaching artists.

A spokesman for Universal’s London office told Pollstar the lawsuit is "without merit" and the company is confident it will prevail in court.

Schwenkow and DEAG’s classical division come into the picture because it promotes Russian soprano Anna Netrebko and Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón.

Netrebko has already moved to Universal and Villazón is tipped to follow her through the door once his IMG contract expires.

Schwenkow says he doesn’t want to comment on the lawsuit other than making it clear that neither he nor his company has had anything to do with persuading IMG artists to follow Vanderveen and Netrebko to Universal, although the two companies are very close. Schwenkow has promoted Netrebko and Villazón in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and will soon be doing their U.K. shows through Raymond Gubbay Ltd., which is now half-owned by DEAG.

After Netrebko’s June 27 performance at Vienna’s Schoenbrunn Palace, two days before the city hosts the final of the Euro 2008 soccer tournament, DEAG and Universal will receive double-platinum discs to commemorate 50,000 sales of the DVD of her DEAG-promoted show at Berlin Waldbühne in 2006.

Schwenkow believes his links with Universal will be a boon to his classical music business as he promotes the acts, while Vanderveen manages some of them and the record company takes care of CD and DVD marketing and distribution.

Schwenkow has contracts to promote some of the acts for the next three years and doesn’t see the case affecting the ongoing relationship between the two companies.