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


Home » Orchestra News » ICSOM Marks 61 Years and Counting

ICSOM Marks 61 Years and Counting


by Paul Austin, ICSOM President and member of Local 56 (Grand Rapids, MI)

The 61st annual conference of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) will be hosted by AFM Local 8 (Milwaukee, WI), and the musicians of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO). The conference will be held from Wednesday, August 23, through Saturday, August 26, at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The only other time that ICSOM has held its annual conference in Milwaukee was in 1981. So much has changed since that visit. As detailed in the “Orchestra Projects of Note” presentation at the 2022 ICSOM conference, the MSO’s newly renovated hall, the historic Warner Grand Theater, is located at the Bradley Symphony Center. It is prominently featured on our 60th annual conference commemorative video In the video, Helen Reich, MSO’s ICSOM delegate, presents details about the massive project of turning the old movie theater into today’s vibrant venue for MSO. The Bradley Symphony Center is located just two blocks from the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, and tours of the hall will occur during the conference.

Our conference this summer will focus in large measure on the path to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our orchestras. Jessica Schmidt of Orchestrate Inclusion will present “Recognizing and Managing Implicit Bias in Orchestra Settings.” ICSOM Counsel Kevin Case will give a talk on SCOTUS and fellowships.

Case will also moderate a panel discussion on our tenure processes with Los Angeles Philharmonic delegate John Lofton (Local 47); Jessica Schmidt; MSO Director of Operations Terrell Pierce; and Leonard Slatkin, Detroit Symphony Orchestra music director laureate and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra conductor laureate. Caen Thomason-Redus, vice president of inclusion and learning for League of American Orchestras (LAO) will present LAO’s new initiative, Inclusive Stages: Racial Diversity in American Orchestras.

Additional speakers will include new AFM President Tino Gagliardi and LAO Board Chair Doug Hagerman. SSD Director Rochelle Skolnick will present “When Employers Behave Badly: Using NLRB Processes to Protect Musicians’ Rights.” For more information and the conference agenda can be viewed online at

While hotel reservations at the ICSOM rate closed on July 23, it is not too late to register to attend the 2023 ICSOM conference, either in person or virtually. AFM members are cordially invited to attend the open sessions listed on the conference agenda, but everyone must be registered in advance. See you in Milwaukee!

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