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Home » Organizing » 2014 ICSOM Conference Focused on the Art of Advocacy

2014 ICSOM Conference Focused on the Art of Advocacy


by Laura Ross, ICSOM Secretary and Member of Local 257  (Nashville, TN)


Conducting the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl–Stephane Deneve (Left) and Bruce Ridge renew their acquaintance

The 2014 International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Conference, hosted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), was held August 25-28 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Conference focus was on the art of advocacy. ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge (North Carolina Symphony, Local 500) addressed the unity and advocacy that’s at the heart of ICSOM’s activities through its calls to action, use of social media, and spreading a positive message about the importance of orchestras and music to our communities. Americans for the Arts Vice President of Research and Policy Randy Cohen returned with a wealth of information to help ICSOM orchestras craft their message about the importance of the arts to our communities.

There were special reports about the Minnesota Orchestra’s post-lockout season and difficult negotiations in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Negotiating Committee Chair Jessica Phillips Rieske (MET Opera Orchestra/Local 802) and Local 802 (New York City) President and IEB Member Tino Gagliardi discussed the Metropolitan Opera settlement. Andreas Winkler from the Orchester Vereinigte Bühnen Wien spoke about working in a European orchestra. The first day ended with a lovely mixer on the Bonaventure pool deck hosted by Local 47.

Randy Whatley, president of Cypress Media and George Brown (Utah Symphony/Local 104) discussed various ways to involve orchestra members in traditional and social media efforts to communicate directly with constituents. Whatley and Ridge led a breakout session. Other sessions were led by SSD Counsel Rochelle Skolnick (Locals 655 (Miami, FL) and 2-197 (St. Louis, MO)) and Penny Brill (Pittsburgh Symphony/Local 60-471.)

One focus of ICSOM is to provide bargaining tools and information to delegates. ICSOM Counsel Susan Martin invited consultant and former executive director Peter Pastreich to assist during the negotiating orchestras workshop. Martin also addressed bargaining and the Affordable Care Act, and led a panel discussion about alternative defined contribution and defined benefit pension plans with Brian Rood (Kansas City Symphony/Local 34-627), Bill Moriarity (Locals 802 and 2-197), and Gene Kalwarski, founder and CEO of the actuarial firm Cheiron.

Delegates were updated about the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund, and heard a status report about Integrated Media Agreement (IMA) negotiations from ICSOM Electronic Media Chair Matthew Comerford (Chicago Lyric/Local 10-208) and bargaining committee members. The other four player conferences presidents, AFM Symphonic Services Division (SSD) staff, AFM President Ray Hair, and American Symphonic Advocacy Project (ASAP) Board Chair Mark Lindsay also gave presentations. AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund Executive Director Dennis Dreith (Local 47) and Director Shari Hoffman provided hospitality sponsorship one evening and spoke during the final day of the conference.

2014 ICSOM conference

(L to R): ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge with MET Negotiating Committee chair and Local 802 (New York City) member Jessica Phillips Rieske and Local 802 and IEB member Tino Gagliardi.

One of the most important opportunities an ICSOM conference offers is the ability for attendees to meet with colleagues from across the country. Thanks to the generosity of the Los Angeles Philharmonic administration and Gail Samuel, nearly 100 tickets were donated to attend a performance by the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl. During intermission, Member-at-Large Meredith Snow (LA Phil/Local 47) escorted a number of ICSOM attendees backstage to greet their counterparts, catch up with friends from colleges and music festivals, and meet new friends.

This year’s election included some historic results: Bruce Ridge’s re-election makes him the longest serving chair of ICSOM. Peter de Boor (Kennedy Center Orchestra/Local 161-710) becomes the newly elected Editor of Senza Sordino, replacing Richard Levine (San Diego Symphony/Local 325), whose 10-year tenure equals Henry Shaw’s (Cincinnati Symphony/Local 1, deceased) as the longest serving editor(s); Michael Moore’s (Atlanta Symphony/Local 148-462) election to another term makes him ICSOM’s longest serving treasurer. Members-at-Large Paul Gunther (Minnesota Orchestra/Local 30-73) and Meredith Snow were re-elected to two-year terms, and Jenny Mondie (National Symphony/Local 161-710) was elected to replace Gail Kruvand (NYC Opera Orchestra/Local 802), who resigned just prior to the conference after serving one year as member-at-large.

Adopted resolutions recognized the contributions of Richard Levine, Gail Kruvand, Bill Foster (National Symphony/Local 161-710), and Eric Arbiter (Houston Symphony/Local 65-699). Other resolutions included the adoption of an ICSOM investment policy; recognition of the names of successor orchestras—Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and Symphoria (in Syracuse); and offering support for the AFM’s efforts to reduce or eliminate all restrictions on the sale, use, or travel with musical instruments and bows containing ivory or other protected materials and to urge governmental agencies to support musicians by reducing or eliminating travel restrictions.

ICSOM thanks Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians, Member-at-Large Meredith Snow, Conference Coordinator Nancy Neville, ICSOM Delegate John Lofton, the LA Philharmonic administration, and Local 47 President Vince Trombetta, Vice President John Acosta, Secretary-Treasurer Gary Lasley, and members for one of our best ICSOM conferences yet.

The 2015 ICSOM Conference will be hosted by The Philadelphia Orchestra and Local 66.


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