Bill Gaden: Establishing Joy through Performance Art and Teaching Compromise
Updated: Sep 24, 2022
He performed in his first musical at age 6 – and never stopped. Music and theatre has been a major part of his life, and also became something of who he is as a person. His passion for performance gave him a unique perspective in the way he now looks at the world. By giving the spotlight to others who perform for the joy and passion of the arts, Bill developed a similar passion for listening and watching them do what they do best. I myself have always found performance art truly unique in how the people on stage can bring joy to others on any given day, let alone amongst this current time of chaos and uncertainty.
Bill has been teaching at LIM College in the Graduate Studies program over the past 3 years. His courses prepare students to master all concepts and become critical thinkers in the area of marketing. He hopes to open their eyes to business issues they haven’t thought about before and leave his class with more confidence – in writing, speaking, and expressing themselves, while also being better equipped to go out into the working world and succeed. I found Bill's passion for his work very inspiring as he understands the need to allow others to take center stage while he sits back and knows he did his best to help them get there.
"During the first class of my courses and several times throughout the semester, I tell my students how important it is to be passionate about what one does for a living. I am living that – and know how much happiness and contentment it can bring. I have spent the majority of my career in the music and theatre businesses – two areas that I love and always have. I feel very lucky to have been able to work in areas that I am passionate about."
What is your role at Concord?
I joined The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization 15 years ago. At that time, it was still owned by the Rodgers and Hammerstein families. In the 15 years since then, the R&H Organization has been sold twice. It is now owned by Concord – the independent, worldwide leader in the development, management and acquisition of sound recordings, music publishing and theatrical performance rights – and now the 5th largest music/theatre company in the world.
Over these 15 years, my job has changed many many times – always a challenge, always working along passionate colleagues in all areas of music and theatre. How lucky am I?
My current position is as the Worldwide President of Concord Theatricals. Concord Theatricals licenses the rights to produce plays and musicals around the world from the smallest high school to the largest Broadway theatres. We proudly represent some of the greatest plays and musical ever written – including works by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Agatha Christie, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dominique Morisseau and Thornton Wilder.
How has your background brought you to teaching?
In my career, I always have enjoyed mentoring younger employees. It gives me great satisfaction to teach employees and help them grow in their professional success. In a way, it seemed like a natural fit for me to teach in the classroom as well. My close friend John Keane is a professor at LIM, now also the Chair of the Graduate program. John asked me to be a guest lecturer in his classes several times. That experience cemented in my mind that I wanted to teach. I was fortunate to be asked to teach at LIM and I have loved it for the past 3 years. I hope to be teaching for many years to come.
How are you handling this pandemic and keeping some kind of normal?
This is an unprecedented time for all of us. As soon as we knew the seriousness of the situation, LIM made all of our face-to-face classes move to online learning. I had taught an on-line class previously so I felt prepared to move my Global Marketing class online. I created new interactive assignments so that I could interact with the students and they could interact with each other. In addition, there is a team project that they are working on in groups of 4. I am communicating electronically with the students more than during our face-to-face time. I do miss being in the classroom with the students very much.
What do you see changing in your industry because of the global situation?
Right now, our theatres are closed and our music tours have stopped. Those businesses will come back, of course, but for now they are on pause. What is inspiring is to see how these creative artists are expressing themselves. We are seeing digital play readings, live streaming concerts from artists’ homes, and we are seeing new ways of communicating. I think that these new ways of working, communicating and creating art will continue in some forms when the Corona crisis is over.
What does being a creative or artist mean to you? How do people navigate this world, and how can they manage the highs and lows that go along with it?
People are in the arts – whether it is music, theatre, or fine arts – not because they want to but because they have to. Creative artists follow their passions because they can’t not follow their passions. As a businessman with an MBA, being able to work with creative artists is such a privilege. Because of their passion, they deal with the highs and lows that can occur throughout their careers. What is also inspiring is how strong the community of artists and creatives is. That community comes together to help and support each other. I see that right now more than ever – with those that can help helping those that need help.
How do you believe performance and music helps humans develop a sense of who they are as individuals? Do you see a correlation between the arts and the well-being of humans?
I performed in my first musical at age 6 – and never stopped. I played in the band and sang in the choir. Music and theatre have always been a huge part of my life. So, for me, music and performance is a big part of who I am, how I define myself, and how I see the world. My experiences being a part of groups putting on a show or a musical performance taught me teamwork, leadership, how to compromise, how to express myself and when to yield the spotlight to someone else. All of these have helped me in my business career and is part of my success. I’ve always felt that the arts give a great deal to the world – it can be happiness, solace, joy. It can help in sadness, grief, and provide comfort and inspiration. A friend once asked me if I always have a song in my head. I answered of course – I can’t imagine not having a song in my head (and heart!) all day every day.