My life: a week with Moema Parrott

I wake up early as I love to see the sunrise, it infuses my quiet time with some inspiration. Coffee, then bath time for my baby daughter. Her morning smiles while we listen to demos for singer-songwriter Becca Steven’s new album are the best.

I first attack emails navigating HarrisonParrott’s (HP) group strategy, marketing, governance and the HP50 campaign this year (led by Jasper Parrott and the lovely Tracy Lees) celebrating 50 years of the company. I look through some crazy HP and Polyarts projects including the likes of Marina Abramović, Krzysztof Penderecki / Beth Gibbons, and Sigur Rós, to Rufus Wainright, Quincy Jones, holograms, opera, jazz, pop, orchestral and electronic music. The common threads linking it all together are genre bending, top quality, innovative artists, projects and partnerships.

In the afternoon I scan the press. Troy Miller’s latest single Giant (co-written and co-produced with Calvin Harris / Rag’n’Bone man) has hit 15m views on YouTube. I catch him on the phone before he goes into the studio and discuss his upcoming show at Royal Festival Hall (RFH) and forthcoming Australian tour.

Then I make calls regarding Francesco Tristano’s Tokyo Stories on Sony, Nadia Sirota, Bryce Dressner, Nico Muhly, Attacca Quartet & Caroline Shaw on Nonesuch/New Amsterdam, as well as Troy Miller producing Jamie Cullum. At the end of the day I spend some time with my daughter and partner cooking together. As usual I get to bed too late after catching up on some late night emails.

I drop my daughter off early with my in-laws as my partner is also at work and then make my flight to London. I’m now officially based in France (our HP French office opened in 2017) and it is a three-hour door-to-door commute to our inspiring new offices at The Ark in West London. I make two trips a month to London, plus international travel for concerts, business and client meetings. I used to travel most of the month but things have been reorganised since my daughter was born in September.

Today I meet with a former colleague from Universal Pictures in the Ark’s Crow’s Nest – a pod with lofty views of London. We brainstorm film music ideas for our composers and conductors, such as Christian Schumann who specialises in both core classical, opera, film and concert repertoire as well as conducting Battlefield V (Electronic Art’s huge gaming franchise).

After lunch I run through my notes on a business trip to LA including a very useful evening at The Game Awards 2018, streamed to more than 26m people. It’s exciting to meet developers and studios such as Ubisoft, RockStar, Nintendo and so on. Gaming projects are a big part of what we are doing at Polyarts – especially with the talented composer, conductor and speaker Eimear Noone, who is linked to music in gaming and tech (ie the Callas Hologram tour). In the evening I make some late LA calls to US-based artists including Stewart Copeland (founder of The Police and an important film composer) – he keeps me on my toes and is a joy to work with.

The day starts with a breakfast meeting with HP’s great new COO Lorna Aizlewood and Elise Brown, Polyarts’ brilliant new high-energy senior manager. I contact fashion designer Irish van Herpen (who has designed for Björk), regarding costumes for Becca. Then I head straight into a meeting with our young team; they have an interesting mix of skills as well as an open-minded and forward-looking approach to this eclectic industry. In many ways, Polyarts is like a start-up: we try to get the whole team thinking in a 360 way about projects. We allow staff at all levels to learn and participate as much as possible, I don’t believe in working in silos. We are now a team of six, a huge leap since our small beginnings in 2014.

At lunch with some sync colleagues we discuss placements for our composers Ollie Howell, Troy Miller, Eimear Noone, Stewart Copeland and Francesco Tristano. Ollie (recommended by Quincy Jones productions) has been approached for some mind-blowing film score projects and is making a strong name for himself.

This morning our latest signing Nadia Sirota is in town for a concert and meets with our team. She is the first creative director for the NY Phil, as well as an inspiring violist and speaker. We facilitate meetings for Nadia with Gillian Moore and Southbank’s senior contemporary music programmer, Bengi Unsal. Both are great supporters of Polyarts and our ambitions to blur genre lines and grow audiences for contemporary music. This evening Polyarts’ Leticia Moreno plays Vivaldi and Piazzolla at Cadogan Hall.

We have an early HP business meeting with the senior management team, followed by emails, financial projections and updates to Polyarts’ business plans. I run for a lunch meeting in central London with a possible new signing, a top-level artist we have been courting for months. After lunch I have more back-to-back meetings; good exercise! This evening I get to spend time with my partner and daughter who have come to join me in London for the weekend.

I enjoy a nice day in London with my family indulging in the guilty pleasure of a full English breakfast with lots of coffee and juice. We wander along the river watching the rowers and the ducks. Later, we head out for dinner and drinks with friends; it is so nice to have some downtime together after a couple of busy weeks. This evening there is another Polyarts concert in London: Nadia Sirota at St Andrew’s in Holborn with James McVinnie on organ for a programme of Glass, Muhly and Bjarnason.

Today we make the final preparations for the RFH performance of Troy Miller’s Gershwin Reimagined featuring Laura Mvula, Shaun Escoffery and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra – the buzz around the concert is palpable. The whole Polyarts team are in attendance. Troy, Laura and Shaun bring the house down.

After the concert we catch up with Southbank’s Gillian Moore, colleagues from labels and publishers, as well as music supervisors, artists and industry friends. These past few weeks have, as always, been full of variety; the bonus of seeing talent perform live reminds me why I do what I do. I get home at midnight, check the Grammy results and sleep by 2am ready for more madness on Monday.

Moema Parrott is CEO of Polyarts, board director at HarrisonParrott and president of HarrisonParrott France. This article appeared in IAM volume 15 issue 3. |