<i> From the Associated Press </i>

International Management Group has arranged a papal tour, has sponsored the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament and manages dozens of the world’s top athletes. Now, it is taking on sopranos and violinists.

When the multinational talent empire bought Hamlen-Landau Management 16 months ago, it added 17-year-old violin virtuoso Joshua Bell to a list of clients that includes Chris Evert Lloyd and Arnold Palmer.

And thus started IMG Artists.

“It opens up all sorts of new worlds for us,” said Charles Hamlen, formerly of Hamlen-Landau Management. “Ten years down the road, we hope to be a world-class operation.”

IMG also markets the names of its celebrities for endorsements and commercials and provides corporate consulting and financial services for its clients. A production unit negotiates the TV rights for the Masters Golf Tournament, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and numerous other major sporting events.

All of these resources, Hamlen said, benefit the 30 artists and groups on his roster, from Joshua Bell to the McLain Family bluegrass band.


“IMG tends to deal with the Cadillacs of business. The type of sponsors we’re involved are in sync with those types of people in the arts,” said Peter Smith, an IMG international vice president.

Noting IMG representation of the Van Cliburn piano competition, Smith said, “The same expertise you need to sell Wimbledon is exactly the same expertise you need to sell the Van Cliburn.”

Martina Navratilova, Lloyd, Palmer, Gary Player, Rick Cerone, Jeff Ruland, Mary Decker Slaney, Jackie Stewart and John Havlicek are a few of the athletes the biggest sports management in the world represents.

With IMG backing, corporate sponsorship of classical musicians becomes much easier, particularly at a time when business is increasingly supporting the arts.

The 41-year-old Hamlen sees somewhat of a merger between a sports celebrity and a musical star. He envisions musicians playing in celebrity sports events just like any other stars, and said athletes may be asked to be narrators in musical works.