Tag Archives: buffalo

Buffalo Philharmonic Ratifies COVID Pandemic Agreement

The musicians of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) recently ratified a side letter to year five of their current six-year contract to help ease the burden of an expected significant financial loss for BPO’s 2020-21 season. The agreement sees the number of weeks change from 40 to 35 while still maintaining the previously negotiated weekly pay raise for the coming season. This will result in a nearly 12% drop in annual wages.

Many safety protocols were included in another side letter to allow the musicians to safely return to work. These include all of the AFM suggestions for health monitoring and risk mitigation in addition to 90-minute rehearsals without breaks. Distancing will be provided for onstage and backstage. BPO management is providing masks.

BPO musicians are members of Local 92 (Buffalo, NY).

Paul Preston

Reflections on a Lifetime of Music

On Sunday, October 8, The Queen City Jass Society (QCJS) in Buffalo, NY, honored clarinetist, saxophonist, and member of Local 92 (Buffalo, NY) Paul Preston for his unparalleled achievements, unwavering dedication, and innumerable contributions to the Traditional Jazz scene in Western New York (WNY). As an interviewer, musician, band member, and, most importantly, friend of Paul, I could not agree more with that description.
Growing up as a trumpet player in WNY who loved Dixieland Music, I sought out as much live Traditional Jazz as possible. It wasn’t long before I was introduced to the premiere Dixieland Band in Buffalo, The Bar-room Buzzards. This was in the mid 70s, and I remember sitting in awe at their performances. I didn’t personally meet Paul Preston until the late 90s, when I was called to substitute in his band. I was awestruck as Paul floated seamlessly from measure to measure and song to song; every note perfectly placed in musical phrases that were nothing short of perfection. I held my own (barely) on that first gig and went home to practice, just in case I got another call. Well, in the music business as in life, situations change, and I did get another call.

Lewis D. Custode, Jr., (left) and Paul Preston at an October tribute concert
celebrating Preston’s contributions to the Western New York trad-jazz scene.

From 2004 to 2005, Paul and I subbed in each other’s bands and played together almost weekly. During the summer of 2005, Paul offered me the trumpet seat in the Bar-room Buzzards, which I humbly accepted. I subsequently retired my band, The Bourbon Street Brass, and began a personal and professional relationship with him that lasts to this day.
In July 2019, as we sat in Paul’s living room sipping our beers and reminiscing about music and life in general, Paul says, “The music business isn’t what it used to be. Back when Jim [Koteras] and I broke away from Eli Konikoff’s Yankee Six, there was plenty of work to go around. Don’t get me wrong, we worked hard at getting gigs and we got a lot of them, but it’s a different story today.” Taking a sip of beer and sitting back in his chair, Paul continued: “Demographics are against us and the younger generation isn’t listening to Dixieland. There’s just not that much demand for Traditional Jazz anymore; I’m thankful for our club [QCJS] and that there’s someplace for bands to play at least once a month.”
It isn’t a stretch to say that Paul is intimately connected to the Queen City Jass Society. Not only was he a founding Charter Member, he also served as the chairman of the first three QCJS Jazz Festivals. Now fully retired from performing, Paul still speaks with pride when referring to the Bar-room Buzzards, which he started with lifelong friend and partner Jim Koteras. “When Jim and I broke away from Eli, everybody thought we were crazy and they would never hear from us again. … We just had this idea of a quartet, and tried out a number of musicians in the early days of the band,” he says.
The group began to take shape in 1965, and the first official quartet began in 1966 with Preston (clarinet/vocals), Koteras (trumpet/vocals), Danny McCue (banjo/guitar) and Craig Hodnett (tuba/bass). Bands are musical and artistic organizations that operate under the characteristics of businesses and have dynamics similar to families: not static and ever evolving. Such was the case with the Bar-room Buzzards, as personnel and the group’s musical approach and style evolved as the band matured. The band has endured more than 50 years, and was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2002.
Over a lifetime of performing Traditional Jazz, which was his music of choice, Paul Preston set the bar extremely high. He literally brought Dixieland music to the forefront in Buffalo and inspired a generation of younger musicians to carry on that musical tradition. Paul’s unwavering dedication to his art established him as the unparalleled “reed-man” in all of WNY for Traditional Jazz, and although retired, he is still revered among his peers today.
When looking at all that he has accomplished, Paul Preston also has done something very few musicians (if any) can claim: he kept the same band working for over 50 years. This, in itself, is nothing short of remarkable.
In a recent conversation, someone referred to Paul Preston as “a treasure.” I couldn’t agree more.

Buffalo Phil Plans Tour Abroad

In March 2018, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) will embark on its first overseas tour since 1988, traveling to Poland for four concerts and several master classes by BPO brass and percussion ensembles. The centerpiece of the tour will be a performance at the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw.

BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta will be the first woman to conduct at that festival. She has programmed works by American composers and by Krzystof Penderecki, in celebration of his 85th birthday.

“The opportunity to tour Poland at the invitation of the Beethoven Easter Festival will be a transformative artistic benchmark in the history of our Buffalo Philharmonic,” says Falletta, a member of Local 125 (Norfolk, VA). “We are very proud to be able to represent Buffalo and Western New York at the festival.”

BPO has announced that attendance increased by 11.5% in the 2016-2017 season, with more than 212,000 adults and children experiencing its concerts. With a budget of $11.6 million,  the orchestra gives 129 performances during its 38-week season. BPO musicians are members of Local 92 (Buffalo, NY).

ICSOM Conference

ICSOM Conference Convenes in Buffalo

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

The 55th annual International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Conference, hosted by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) and Local 92, was held at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Buffalo, New York, August 23-26.

ICSOM delegates once again volunteered for a special service event in our host orchestra’s city. This time they partnered with BPO Kids for Exceptional Kids, a program benefiting kids with autism spectrum disorders, cancer, and other chronic physical or health challenges. Thanks to BPO ICSOM Delegate and Member-at-Large Dan Sweeley (of Local 92) for putting this and other conference activities together.

While the “official” beginning of the conference was Wednesday morning, a negotiating workshop led by ICSOM Counsel Kevin Case, a member of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) was held Tuesday evening. Before the opening session Wednesday morning, new delegates attended a breakfast to preview what to expect during the conference.

In her first year as ICSOM chair, Meredith Snow (Los Angeles Philharmonic, Local 47) gave the opening address. She reminded delegates that, as our orchestra committees have become stronger, there is a risk that our orchestras may come to view the AFM as a separate entity. But we, the musicians, are the union. We need to uphold the value of our labor and stand up for our colleagues. Individual actions matter. She encouraged ICSOM musicians to reinforce their commitment to their locals, the AFM, and each other. ICSOM is here to help ensure that everyone thrives.

ICSOM President George Brown (Utah Symphony, Local 104) spoke about diversity within the entire orchestral organization—stage, administration, and boards.

AFM Political and Legislative Director Alphonso Pollard reported on various legislative issues, including bills that erode labor protection such as national “right to work” bills proposed in the House and Senate. AFM Symphonic Services Division (SSD) Director Rochelle Skolnick and AFM Negotiator Todd Jelen designed a series of workplace scenarios for delegates and local officers to discuss in smaller breakout groups. A mixer at Pearl Street Grill and Brewery on Wednesday evening offered excellent music, food, and an unobstructed view of a glorious sunset on Lake Erie.

On Thursday, delegates heard reports from officers and others. We were pleased to welcome back two ICSOM Emeritus Presidents—AFM Strike Fund Trustees David Angus (Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Local 66) and Brian Rood (Kansas City Symphony, Local 34-627). Rood, who also serves as chair of ICSOM’s Electronic Media Committee, and AFM SSD Electronic Media Director Debbie Newmark quizzed delegates about the types of work covered by the Integrated Media Agreement (IMA).

A presentation by ICSOM Counsel Kevin Case and David Sywak (Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Local 72-147) discussed health care bargaining options. The afternoon was devoted to an AFM and Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) presentation by fund trustees, staff, advisors, and counsel. That evening, ICSOM’s annual Town Hall, a closed session for delegates and the governing board, discussed issues of importance.

Case moderated a panel of orchestra leaders—musicians, administrative, conductors, and a mediator—that examined the dynamics of orchestra relations in a discussion entitled “Back from the Brink.” ICSOM provided a luncheon for members-at-large and their orchestra delegates to discuss a broad range of issues. Each member-at-large oversees 13 orchestras. Following lunch, Meredith Snow moderated a panel discussion examining diversity within our orchestral organizations. More than 40 conference attendees went to view the American Falls at Niagara Falls in the evening.

ICSOM Conference

A large group of attendees from the 55th Annual International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) gathered in front of the Adam’s Mark Hotel Fountain in Buffalo, New York. They were wearing T-shirts supporting individual orchestras and arts organizations.

On Saturday, Cypress Media President Randy Whatley provided tips about how musicians can craft a community relations program. Kevin Case introduced a welcome addition to the conference: an open forum for delegates to ask questions of legal counsel.

Delegates adopted resolutions addressing the AFM-EPF, national right to work legislation, implementation of an online conductor evaluation survey, and ICSOM’s response to recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Resolutions were also adopted honoring George Brown as he stepped down as ICSOM President, and Paul Gunther of Local 30-73 (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN) who stepped down as a member-at-large after 11 years, following his retirement from the Minnesota Orchestra.

Paul Austin (Grand Rapids Symphony, Local 56) was elected ICSOM President and ICSOM Secretary Laura Ross (Nashville Symphony, Local 257) was re-elected. Kimberly Tichenor (Louisville Orchestra, Local 11-637) and Martin Andersen (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Local 16-248) were elected to two-year member-at-large positions; Greg Mulligan (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Local 40-543) was elected to a one-year member-at-large position.

Many thanks to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Local 92 President Jim Pace for a wonderful conference. The 2018 ICSOM Conference will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 22-25.

Colored Musicians Club

Gala Commemorates 100th Anniversary

AFM Local 92 (Buffalo, NY) was formed with the 1969 merger of Local 43 The Musicians’ Protective Association of Buffalo (chartered in 1897) and Local 533 The Colored Musicians Association (chartered in 1917). The Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo was formed as a social club offshoot of Local 533 some years after the founding of the local. The club, located at 145 Broadway in Buffalo, has its own jazz museum with a mission to promote and preserve the history and knowledge of African-Americans and jazz music in Buffalo.

On April 15, 2017, the Colored Musicians Club hosted a Centennial Grand Gala at the historic Hotel Lafayette celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Local 533. At the gala, AFM Local 92 President Jim Pace presented the original 1917 Local 533 charter to Colored Musicians Club President George Scott as a gift from Local 92.

“Local 92 had possession of the original Local 533 AFM charter for almost 50 years, ever since the merger of Locals 43 and 533 in 1969. The Board of the Buffalo Musicians’ Association felt the 100th anniversary of the founding of Local 533 was the perfect time to present the original Local 533 charter to the Colored Musicians Club as a gift for display in their museum,” says Pace.

“Through strength and determination, Local 533 successfully fought discrimination in the musical community, business, and in its openness to all races in both the union and in its social club. The Colored Musicians Club and the Colored Musicians Club Jazz Museum are dedicated to promote and encourage research and preservation of the history of jazz music in Buffalo, as well as to expose and educate our youth to their musical heritage,” says Scott. “It was an honor to have Local 92 there to join us in celebration. Although Local 533 was formed because of segregation, the friendship over the years helped to merge 43 and 533 into what now stands as one of the best locals in the City of Buffalo, Local 92.”