Christopher “Chris” Roberts has worked in the music industry for more than 30 years, and during the majority of that time he has served as the head of Universal Music Group’s Classics and Jazz division. A lifelong supporter of the musical arts, Christopher Roberts sits on The Gilmore’s Artistic Advisory Committee in addition to his work at Universal Music Group, and he participates in the selection of recipients of the organization’s Artist Award.
Piano students enjoyed a special event hosted by the Gilmore this spring - the annual Gilmore KeysFest, held this year on February 20, 2016. The daylong festival is designed to support the musical interest of students in grades 1 to 12. All skill levels are invited to participate. The event is set up like a master class, and each student benefits from one-on-one instruction from professional pianists. The children play before a small audience of supportive students and adults. The public is invited to attend.
Students participating in KeysFest bring their own music selection and prepare it for performance with the help of a teacher, or “clinician.” Among the clinician’s for this year were Dr. Lia Jensen-Abbott, Jeanne Hanley Thelen, Dr. Derek Polishchuk, Eric Van De Vort, and Dr. Zhihua Tang. Jeremy Siskind attended the event as a special guest clinician.
A former president at Universal Music Group, Christopher Roberts propelled the company’s Classics and Jazz Division to new heights. One of the many careers to which Christopher Roberts contributed during his time at Universal Music is that of Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang.
Born in China, Lang Lang, is an internationally known pianist who has performed throughout Europe, China, and the United States. He says that his first inspiration to become a pianist was an episode of Tom and Jerry, “The Cat Concerto,” that he saw when he was only 2 years old. At 15, with multiple awards already under his belt, Lang Lang began studying piano under Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Lang Lang has received much critical acclaim throughout his career, and he has played in prestigious events including a concert at the 2014 World Cup and the 56th and 57th Grammy Awards. In 2008, Lang Lang published an autobiography titled Journey of a Thousand Miles, which has been published in 11 languages; he also adapted it for younger readers under the title Playing with Flying Keys.
Christopher (Chris) Roberts, a former executive at Universal Music Group, now serves as the president and chief executive officer of the music consulting firm Robisong Consultants. Beyond his experience at Universal Music, Christopher Roberts brings to his current role a degree in musicology and German literature from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.
At the most basic level, musicology involves the academic and scientific study of music. In addition to investigating various forms of music and the evolution of music notation throughout time, musicologists often focus their studies on specific musical instruments, music theory, and the lives of composers and musicians. Musicology can also involve the study of how people perceive music, as well as its impact on the listener.
In the late 1950s, a field known as ethnomusicology began to splinter off from musicology. While musicology deals primarily with the development of music over time, ethnomusicology focuses more on music within a specific culture. For example, musicologists may look closely at a musical artifact, while ethnomusicologists may attempt to understand the cultural influences that created the artifact in the first place.
Christopher Roberts, president of Universal Music Group’s Classics and Jazz division, is known for having modernized the way the classical music business operates. Over his 30-year career, Universal Music’s Chris Roberts has kept classical recordings relevant by updating their labels with more modern and visually appealing aesthetics.
While the intensity of running a music business is enough to keep Mr. Roberts occupied, he recently began composing and arranging music again. His 2013 release, called “A Different Place, A Different Time” was his first attempt at producing his own album after focusing on the business side of music for 15 years.
The classical album includes works derived from his long-time collaborative relationship with musician Jeff Leonard. One of the featured songs was written about Mr. Roberts' daughter Madeleine called “Madeleine’s Lullaby,” with Mr. Leonard contributing the bridge. Rounding out the album is a new composition based on Mozart’s Piano Concerto #23.
Navigating an illustrious career through a tumultuous period in the music industry, Christopher Roberts provided visionary leadership for the world’s largest recording company.