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Home » ROPA » ROPA’s 36th Annual Conference, and What ROPA Does the Rest of the Year

ROPA’s 36th Annual Conference, and What ROPA Does the Rest of the Year


by John Michael Smith, President, ROPA, and Member of Local 30-73 (St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN)

The Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) will hold its 36th Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, July 28-30. The conference will be held at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel, located right on Boston Harbor. Our hosts this year are Boston Local 9-535, and the Boston Ballet Orchestra, Portland Symphony, and Cape Symphony. As always, our conference will feature presentations on a variety of subjects of interest to our members, including wellness, the business of orchestras, our union, and diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in our orchestras.

ROPA is currently 91 orchestras strong, with 79 full-member orchestras and 12 associate members. Our orchestra budget sizes range from around $650,000 to opera and ballet companies of over $40 million. Representing more than 5,000 musicians, ROPA is the largest of the AFM player conferences.

Besides the annual conference, where information and ideas are exchanged with the delegates from each orchestra, what else is ROPA involved with during the year?

This past June, ROPA was present at the League of American Orchestras in Nashville and had a non-voting delegation participate in the AFM Convention in Las Vegas. Immediately after our conference at the end of July, ROPA will connect with the other AFM player conferences with a presence at their annual conferences. The Theater Musicians’ Association (TMA) will be meeting concurrently with ROPA in Boston this year. This conference will be followed in August by the annual conferences of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) in Hamilton, Ontario, and the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) in Park City, Utah. The Recording Musicians’ Association (RMA) meets biennially, and they do not have a conference scheduled for this year.

Over the past year, ROPA, along with ICSOM, was a part of the negotiating team of the AFM for the new Integrated Media Agreement (IMA), which reached a deal with the Employers’ Electronic Media Association (EMA) in April. ROPA participated in the Sphinx Connect Conference in Detroit this past February, and also is participating with ICSOM and the AFM Symphonic Services Division (SSD) in the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS), a program for audition preparation for African-American and Latinx musicians. ROPA has participated for several years in a union education program for the New World Symphony, sharing with the fellows in that program the benefits of being union.

ROPA publishes its quarterly newsletter, The Leading Tone, both in print and online. We maintain informational email lists for delegates and for general discussion by ROPA orchestra members and others. ROPA also maintains a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The members-at-large on the ROPA Executive Board each moderate and encourage discussion in a group of delegates of similar orchestra budget size, or specifically pit orchestras, throughout the year.

ROPA is a busy player conference of the AFM. We are working every day, side by side with the other player conferences, Symphonic Services Division, and the AFM on our mission and goals for our musicians, our orchestras, and as a union. We are stronger together!

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