Entrepreneurship and Career Development

Entrepreneur of the Month

Hilary Glen

Entrepreneur of the Month: January

Hilary Glen:

This month, Project Jumpstart interviews Hilary Glen, Jacobs School alumna, principal cellist with the New World Symphony, and recently, an innovative producer!

Glen is a multi-facetted musician who has been known to perform in a variety of venues, whether it be at the New World Symphony, the mountainsides of the Italian Alps, the Rochester Jazz Festival and local coffee shops. She has collaborated with countless legendary figures in the industry, including Gil Shaham, Yefim Bronfman and John Adams.

Glen's entrepreneurial artistic vision includes performances that utilize multiple disciplines with Chamber Ballet Brockport, combining music performance and contemporary ballet. She's equally at home with jazz and wide-ranging chamber music. As a passionate educator, she regularly presents experience-based workshops at local schools and underserved communities. Recently, she won an award to produce "Heard It Through The Grapevine," an interactive evening with the New World Symphony that combined wine, food, and music.

Project Jumpstart: Why do you feel it is so important for music students to embrace innovative performance styles beyond their classical training? 

Glen: I believe that being versatile can only be beneficial to one’s career and life. If we pigeonhole ourselves, our career options become incredibly limited and I think the likelihood of burnout is very high. In addition to my “classical” studies at IU, I took David Baker’s improvisation course, sang in the International Vocal Ensemble, and danced in the African American Dance Company. All of these experiences changed the way I functioned as a musician and influenced how I thought about the music itself. From a technical standpoint, learning to play different styles of music makes you a better musician – simply because your toolbox becomes larger, which gives you more options when approaching a technical or musical challenge. It’s also fun to explore new things!


PJ:  How do you imagine the future of musical performance as it explores new venues?

Glen: I think that live performance is evolving to fit the lifestyle of a new generation of music-lovers. The traditional concert hall setting is wonderful for many reasons, but can also be intimidating and isolating to someone who hasn’t been raised in the classical music culture. Since music education is being cut from school curriculums, there is less exposure and therefore less interest in the genre. By performing in non-traditional venues, in informal settings, or by somehow involving the audience throughout the performance, we are making our art form more accessible to a greater number of people.

Glen Performance

Chamber Ballet Brockport, a multi-disciplinary performance ensemble

PJ: In what ways has your community engagement and outreach initiatives shaped your artistic vision?

Glen: Teaching provides incredible perspective into why I do what I do. Performing is rewarding for its own reasons and is something I love and work for every day. Teaching, however, is where you can leave a lasting impression and really make a difference. We all have teachers who has significantly impacted our life path in one way or another. For me, my Bloomington teachers, Helga Winold and Janos Starker, laid a foundation and set me on the path to becoming a cellist. At Eastman, Alan Harris helped me refine what I bring to my profession. Working within a community has helped shape and define my idea of success as a musician. For me, success is always striving for excellence and making a positive contribution to the community in which I live. 


Glen performing Bolcom Capriccio

PJ: How has your fellowship at the New World Symphony shaped you as a performer and artist? 

Glen: New World has provided countless opportunities for me to pursue excellence in performing and teaching. I perform orchestral and chamber music repertoire with world-class colleagues every week and my musicianship has grown immensely because of this. As a member of the community engagement committee, I have helped organize as well as participated in many of the outreach experiences that New World offers (such as volunteering with local schools and the MiamiMusic Project, assisting with the annual NWS Side by Side concert, and working with students from our sister organization in Medellin, Colombia). New World is very supportive of personal projects as well – the staff is always willing to assist with anything from grant writing to programming to advertising. They are all fantastic resources for any entrepreneurial desires!

My most recent project with the New World Symphony was part of a new concert series we have started that features a fellow’s concert idea. This opportunity awards a $25,000 grant to each of two selected proposals. Each fellow leads his/her project from start to finish. This experience offers a chance to research and program repertoire, contact and hire guest artists, communicate with potential sponsors and donors to support your project, write and produce advertising, set ticket prices, design a program, write program notes, schedule rehearsals, work with a front of house staff and production crew to ensure that the evening runs smoothly, negotiate with and hire a caterer for any food/drink needs, and much more! My proposal was for a wine and music pairing called Heard it Through the Grapevine. The main necessities for this event were to find a donor to provide enough wine, figure out how to serve multiple glasses of wine to a hall full of people without spilling or causing enormous interruptions, figure out how the wine and the music would be connected/related, and hire a sommelier.

Of course, there were MANY other things that happened behind the scenes, not least of which was working with a marketing team to identify a very specific target audience, write and design advertising to attract this audience, and determine where to place the advertisements. This project was demanding and rewarding, and it will certainly influence my future career choices.

Heard It Through The Grapevine

Heard it Through the Grapevine - an evening of music and wine hosted by Glen and the New World Symphony
PJ: In what ways have networking and collaboration played in a role in your career development?  

Glen: Networking can be very important in a free-lancer’s career. I’m introverted, so “networking” can be intimidating, but I try to remember that being friendly and true to myself will lead to genuine connections that I feel good about – those are the relationships that we want to foster anyway. A recent personal example: I met a bassoonist a couple of summers ago at a MusAid workshop in Belize (we taught and performed together). Just the other day, he called me with a teaching opportunity at the university where he works. Who knows what will come of this, but it would have never been an option if we hadn’t gotten to know each other.  


PJ: What words of advice do you have for aspiring students who hope to innovate a career as an entrepreneurial musician? What obstacles have your overcome along the way and what resources have you found to be beneficial?

Glen: Starting your own project is a lot of work, but also very rewarding. Make sure that you’re pursuing something that you’re passionate about – that you really want to see completed. The biggest things I’ve learned are that it’s best to work with a team, and that asking for help is not a mark of failure or weakness.


Project Jumpstart partners with the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the IU Kelley School of Business.