CC partner dishes up the food of love
21 November 2011 | By Vanessa Wozniak
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Clifford Chance staff are getting a treat, being spoilt with a series of lunchtime concerts by eminent musicians.
The initiative is spearheaded by enigmatic and passionate Clifford Chance capital markets partner Esther Cavett, a former professional musician and lecturer in music at the University of Oxford.
Last week staff, clients and local schoolchildren were invited to a midday concert performed by world-renowned concert cellist Steven Isserlis as part of the music@CC series.
Next on the list is acclaimed teenage pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, who will be performing next January, with well-known violinist Nicola Benedetti booked in to play in the spring.
Cavett, who chairs the firm’s music committee, firmly believes that there should be more to a day in the office than “just sitting in front of a desk readingdocuments”.
“Inviting these extraordinarily talented musicians to play at Clifford Chance reminds us lawyers of our own mortality,” Cavett says. “I like to think that lawyers are, in a way, like musicians, with senior partners taking the role of orchestra conductors.
“Lawyers, much like musicians, must rely on each other - if one musician makes a mistake or misses their cue it makes things harder for the others. The requisites of being a lawyer - much like being part of an orchestra - are dedication, teamwork, attention to detail and trusting in your colleagues.
“The concerts are a refreshing way for staff to spend their break and they can be back at their desks within the hour. I believe that music in the workplace has a direct correlation with staff happiness and is a practical way of enhancing productivity.
“Music is also a great way to deepen relationships with clients. We encourage our lawyers to organise group visits to musical performances at venues throughout London.”
As well as the attendance of more than 50 of the firm’s clients, children from local Tower Hamlets schools with which Clifford Chance has affiliations were invited to see Isserlis’s performance.
“Through music we give something back to the community,” Cavett stresses. “Some of these schools have no music programmes at all, so it’s a great way for children to engage with high-quality music they wouldn’t normally have access to.
“After performances musicians are encouraged to talk with the children, explaining how their instruments work and how they came to be world-class artists.”
Cavett, who studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music before embarking on a career in law, also sits on the board of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and is director of the City Arts Trust, which promotes the advancement of education through the arts.
Money raised from collections at the concerts is match-funded by Clifford Chance, which enables Trinity Laban outreach workers to go into schools to establish music and dance lessons.
Through the introduction of the lunchtime concert programme Cavett says a cycle of “music flooding out” has been created.
In addition to the regular concerts staff at Clifford Chance are encouraged to take up instruments, with dedicated music teachers coming in to give lessons in piano, singing and guitar in the firm’s dedicated music rooms.
Many of the music teachers are graduates of institutions that Clifford Chance has supported in the past - something Cavett is especially proud of.
She is as passionate about art as she is music.
“It’s all about broadening the experience of those who work at Clifford Chance. It’s energising to have so much creativity around you, be it visual or aural,” Cavett notes. “Our art collection covers most of the major movements of the 21st century.
“What’s most satisfying is watching the young hopefuls we support develop and grow to become world-famous artists. Sam Taylor-Wood and Peter Taylor are good examples.”