At first glance, classical music and entrepreneurship don’t have much in common. At MaRS, we’re focused on helping entrepreneurs in science, technology and social innovation turn their ideas into businesses—something that might seem like it has nothing to do with Bach, Brahms or Beethoven.

Composer Rob Kapilow felt the same way, until a professor from the Fordham School of Business approached him after a concert in New York City. The professor engaged Kapilow to deliver a lecture to a graduate management seminar: the lecture was about conducting as a management model. Apparently, business and music share a lot of the same characteristics.

Both are creative. Both have a long history. And, perhaps most importantly, they both require extensive collaboration. Conductors are like managers: leading the pack, providing guidance and feedback and overseeing the entire operation. Musicians are like employees: working together while focusing on their own individual tasks. And the audience is like customers or clients: they’ll pay with applause, thank you very much.

Kapilow and the Gryphon Trio played an interactive concert at MaRS in February as part of the Global Leadership series. The Music of Collaboration was a collaboration (as the title suggests…) between Kapilow and the Trio on concepts of leadership, team dynamics, innovation and creativity.

Classical music is about more than just playing instruments. It’s also about listening—music is a conversation of sound, much like entrepreneurship is a conversation of innovation, experience, capital and concept. Both require close listening. For The Music of Collaboration, the Gryphon Trio and the audience demonstrated and experimented with the kind of listening that making playing together possible in any collaboration, from a classical music concert to a corporate conference.

Didn’t make it? Don’t worry! We filmed it. The video is long, but it’s worth watching. If your time is limited, it’s worth pressing play just to hear what Kapilow has to say about collaboration, communication and classical music (that part’s only 15 minutes).

The Music of Collaboration from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo.

Vanessa Caldwell

Vanessa is a writer at MaRS. She writes all kinds of things, like posts for the MaRS blog, articles for Convergence (the MaRS magazine) and the weekly MaRS eNewsletters. See more…