Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.
As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.
The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.
Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit www.afm.org/join.
October 1, 2021Laura Ross -
by Laura Ross, ICSOM Secretary, Nashville Symphony Member, and Member of Local 257 (Nashville, TN)
It took an additional year for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) to host the 59th annual International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Conference held August 11-14, 2021 at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown hotel. Our hosts from PSO and Local 60-471 (Pittsburgh, PA)—ICSOM Member at Large Micah Howard, Conference Coordinator Bronwyn Banerdt, ICSOM Delegate Charlie Powers, 412 Food Rescue Coordinator Lorien Benet Hart, Local President George Clewer, and the many PSO musicians— were incredibly welcoming and made traveling to Pittsburgh worth the effort. The governing board required proof of vaccination, masks (provided by ICSOM), and social distancing during sessions.
A 412 Food Rescue volunteer event was scheduled prior to the conference on Tuesday, and while different than usual, it allowed closer interaction between volunteers and their assigned PSO musician(s). Thanks to Lorien Benet Hart for arranging this event and to the PSO musicians who took time to join us.
Our New Delegate Breakfast on Wednesday morning offered new delegates and alternate delegates a sneak peek into the upcoming conference. Thanks to the preparation and work of ICSOM Member at Large Keith Carrick (Local 104/Utah Symphony)—ICSOM held its first hybrid conference. Just over half of our ICSOM delegates and/or alternate delegates attended in person; the rest joined via Zoom and participated in Q&A and town hall meetings. Wednesday morning included welcome remarks, officer addresses and reports, and remarks by PSO President and CEO Melia Tourangeau and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. ICSOM welcomed its 53rd member orchestra—Pacific Symphony—when delegates voted to approve their application for membership to ICSOM.
Afternoon sessions included AFM President Ray Hair’s conference address to the conference; a DEI presentation via Zoom by Jessica Schmidt of Orchestrate Inclusion; and a new orchestra projects of note presentation by ICSOM delegates Brad Whitfield (Local 256-733/Alabama Symphony), Miles Maner (Local 10-208/Chicago Symphony), Doug Rosenthal (Local 161-710/Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra), Amy Hess (Local 10-208/Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra), and Local 555 President Miguel Rivera with Secretary-Treasurer José Manuel Villegas Rivera (both of Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico). The mixer was hosted by Local 60-471 and Musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony. It featured entertainment by Pittsburgh Hard Bop Sextet, Pittsburgh-centric foods, and a spectacular view of Point Park at the confluence where the Allegheny and Monongahela form the “mighty” Ohio River.
Brief reports and Player Conferences Council addresses on Thursday morning were followed by two presentations about reading financial documents: “Finance 101: Interpreting Standard Financial Statements,” by local CPA Paul E. Block and “Financial Review: Interpreting Audits and Spotting Red Flags,” by Bob Zagozda. Orchestra breakout groups by budget size and the first of two town hall meetings ended the day.
ICSOM Counsel Kevin Case’s (Local 10-208) presentation “Variants & Vaccinations: Bargaining in a Time of Uncertainty” included a repeat visit by Dr. Adam Schwalje (via Zoom), who joined the ICSOM conference last summer. After the Member at Large/Delegate Luncheon, AFM Symphonic Services Division Director Rochelle Skolnick and Symphonic Electronic Media Director Debbie Newmark presented, followed by a second town hall meeting.
Saturday began with an update on the AFM-EPF’s status by Union Trustees Laura Ross, Martha Hyde (Local 802), Brian Rood (Local 34-627/Kansas City Symphony), and Co-Counsel Zachary Leeds. Bylaw changes and resolutions followed and addressed ICSOM’s Emergency Relief Fund, Electronic Media Guarantee (EMG) carve outs, support for revising AFM Bylaws concerning the AFM Strike Fund, honoring the passing of Chris Durham and Paul Ganson, and thanking the two members at large— Greg Mulligan (Local 40-543/Baltimore Symphony) and Micah Howard—for their service as they relinquished their positions. A final resolution honored Michael Moore (Local 148-462/Atlanta Symphony), who stepped down after 19 years as ICSOM treasurer, following 11 years as member at large.
Meredith Snow (Local 47/Los Angeles Philharmonic) was re-elected chairperson, Peter de Boor (Local 161-710/Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra) was elected treasurer after stepping down as Senza Sordino editor; and Mike Muszynski (Local 3/Indianapolis Symphony) was elected Senza Sordino editor. Dan Sweeley (Local 92/Buffalo Philharmonic), Alberto Suarez (Local 34-627/Kansas City Symphony), and Kenneth Thompkins (Local 5/Detroit Symphony) were elected members at large, and Sweeley was also elected as third delegate to the AFM Convention in 2022.
Our 60th anniversary conference will be held next year in Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 24-27, 2022. You may visit www.icsom.org for more information about ICSOM and the 2021 Conference.