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Meet Kristina Latino of Cornerscape in Cambridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristina Latino.

Kristina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always known that I wanted to work in music, but growing up I wasn’t sure exactly in what capacity. I grew up in Worcester, MA, and the city provided a lot of opportunities to get involved in music young – singing in Community Theater and at my church, going to summer concerts in the park, stuff like that. When I was in college, I had this great internship working on the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival and it was there that I realized I love putting on great shows and music events. All I’ve ever really wanted since then is to create unique concerts and music experiences and be able to make a living from it.

After college, I got a job at Club Passim, an incredible nonprofit listening room venue in Harvard Square, and I spent the next two years there running sound, handling general operations, and learning a ton. Working both in the venue and in the office doing program administration was a perfect combo for me – I loved working with the musicians who came through the venue at night, and then taking those experiences upstairs to the office the next day to think about how the organization could better support artists and the community. After that I worked at Harvard coordinating arts and culture projects for the President and Provost’s office, which was also a great learning experience – some of the events and installations I got to help manage there were really special. It was during this time that I started freelancing on the side doing music events and thinking about maybe starting something of my own.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t think you could find anyone working in music or creative fields who would describe their road as “smooth”! Sometimes it’s really difficult to remain confident in what you are doing, especially when you put yourself out there to work with someone and it doesn’t work out, or apply for something that doesn’t come through. Luckily I have a small (but scrappy!) team that works with me on all of Cornerscape’s events and projects. They constantly remind me of why I love this work, and I’m really grateful for their ideas and energy. Similarly, the other women on the Women in Music Boston leadership committee constantly inspire me and offer help when I run into challenges or need advice.

One of Cornerscape’s big challenges this year was shifting our focus away from producing events behind-the-scenes for clients to putting on more of our own music series. Making that commitment to presenting more of our own series and events has been intimidating and difficult at times, but incredibly rewarding – it’s allowed us to collaborate with some incredible leaders, musicians, and business owners. That’s really been the highlight.

Please tell us about Cornerscape.
Cornerscape curates and presents unique live music experiences in New England. Our concerts and events are often collaborative, multidisciplinary, or in alternative spaces. I absolutely love collaborating with other organizers and artists in our community, so collaboration is really at the heart of everything Cornerscape does.

For each event we present, we ask ourselves what we are adding to the concept that makes it stand out or improves on a traditional concept. For example, we have a series called Music on the Menu, where we do pop-up concerts in local restaurants and on farms. A musician told me earlier this year about an experience he had playing a farm dinner where he felt like background music, and I thought “we can fix that.” So we started a series where we bring chefs and musicians into conversation with each other about creativity, art, and hard work. We follow that with a seated dinner and close out the night with a set of music. Each artist gets their time to shine, and our guests are challenged to think seriously about the ways they experience both music and food as art. This philosophy – of tweaking the model in some way – really guides all of our concerts and series.

On the client side, Cornerscape also works with companies to bring music to their offices and special events. I love being able to introduce homegrown artists to companies that might not otherwise know about the incredible talent just outside their doors. And it’s fun to work with clients to help identify the right band or artist for the event they’re creating.

My goal is for people to turn to Cornerscape when they want to hear music in a special way, and know that when they come to one of our events, they’ll go home having heard great music and also having learned something, or thought about something in a new way.

What are your plans for the future? What are you looking forward to or planning for – any big changes?
Local Behavior — our new music festival at City Winery on October 28 — is the big project in the works at Cornerscape right now. We are aiming to amplify the music and voices of women and non-binary musicians in New England. But what makes Local Behavior different from other festivals being presented right now is our accompanying program to build mentor / mentee relationships between successful headlining working musicians and up-and-coming artists, and those aspiring to work in the arts. Our idea is that though one festival or program can’t change the world, by changing our “Local Behavior” we can have a collective impact that reverberates throughout the music industry. Tickets just went on sale through the City Winery website, so we’re trying to spread the word and sell tickets now.

I’m also really excited about a project I’m working on with an incredible musician who I manage, Mark Erelli. He’s such a talented songwriter, and he wrote a really powerful song a few years ago called By Degrees about the toll gun violence takes on all of us individually and collectively. We’re working on a project that will put the song to some activist use, which feels so important right now.

And finally, I’m excited about a new concert series Cornerscape is launching in the Shipyard in East Boston – I’ve always loved that area, and we’re collaborating with some of the organizations housed there to bring concerts to an incredible rooftop space with a view of the Boston skyline. Each month we’ll feature a different musician and highlight a local arts group or collective. Those shows should be really fun!

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