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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.

Locals Conference Council

LCC-PCC: Where the Conferences Converge!

by Jonathan Ferrone, AFM Assistant Secretary

In the years when there is no AFM Convention, the Federation hosts the Locals Conference Council (LCC) and Players’ Conference Council (PCC). Taking place at the same venue and at the same time of year as the 100th Convention last year, the LCC-PCC affords delegates from both councils the opportunity to exchange information and ideas on appropriate subjects regarding the good and welfare of the AFM, its locals, and its members. In short, it allows these diverse constituencies the opportunity to hold the AFM accountable.

Since I was a local officer at this time in 2016 and I was never a conference delegate, this was my first LCC-PCC. Represented in the 2017 LCC-PCC were the Professional Musicians of California, Canadian, Eastern, Illinois State, Mid America, Mid-States, New England, New Jersey State, New York State, Southern, Professional Musicians of Texas, and Western locals conferences, as well as the five players’ conferences: International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM), Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), Recording Musicians Association (RMA), and Theater Musicians Association (TMA). The delegates of the conferences are typically officers of the conference, who are elected in conformity with the bylaws of their conferences. 

Players’ Conference leadership at the LCC-PCC (L to R): ICSOM Chair Meredith Snow, OCSM President Robert Fraser, RMA President Marc Sazer,  TMA Vice President Paul Castillo, and ROPA President John Michael Smith.

In attendance from the AFM were executive officers and senior staff, as well as international representatives (IRs). Spread out across the US and Canada, with each servicing the locals in their respective territories, the IRs are often the first line of communication between the AFM and its members. 

Essentially a weekend conference, the first day of the LCC-PCC started out with reports from AFM officers and department directors. AFM President Ray Hair spoke about the general status of the AFM since the convention, current and pending contract negotiations that he is involved with, and the long-term stability of the AFM going forward. AFM Vice President Bruce Fife discussed the recently initiated local officer training program, while Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert gave an update of AFM matters north of the border. AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal presented a financial and statistical report, and talked about the International Musician Editorial Board. Following departmental reports, representatives of the AFM Employers’ Pension Fund gave a pension presentation.

In the afternoon, the delegates met as councils to formulate topics that they wished to discuss and questions that they wanted to ask. Each conference, of course, brought with it its own unique attributes and needs. As per the AFM Bylaws, the first order of business is to elect an LCC Chair. This year it was Local 7 (Orange County, CA) Secretary Tammy Noreyko, who is also secretary of the Western Conference. 

Locals Conference Council

(L to R) are AFM International Representatives Wally Malone (Western Territory), Cass Acosta (Southeast Territory), Allistair Elliott (All of Canada), and Gene Tournour (Northeast Territory).

On the second day, the LCC and PCC met with AFM officers and staff. Topics of discussion included touring and traveling issues, organizing and membership recruitment, suggestions and ideas for afm.org, and questions about the pension fund. Perhaps the most significant and possibly most overlooked detail about this event is that it is likely the only time these delegates and AFM representatives will all be together outside of a convention. I was struck by the level of knowledge and professionalism of the delegates, and by the smooth discourse between the AFM representatives and the delegates about their respective concerns.

In conclusion, this event was a very successful show of solidarity between several different constituencies within the AFM. I would like to thank all who helped to make this a meaningful event.  See you next year, delegates!    

Eastern Conference

Conference Gathers Eastern Locals for Informative Exchanges

by Mary Plaine, Eastern Conference Secretary-Treasurer and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD)

eastern conference

AFM staff and delegates of the Eastern Conference met in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, April 22-23.

A historic meeting of Federation and local officers and delegates took place at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Saturday, April 22, when the Eastern Conference of Locals, comprised of locals from New England, New Jersey, New York, and the former Penn-Del-Mar-DC Conference, was called to order by Eastern Conference President Candace Lammers of Local 400 (Hartford-New Haven, CT). After a lot of work on the part of many people, it was gratifying to see 50 people sitting around the U-shaped table ready to attack a full agenda.

Following the opening business of the conference, the attendees heard presentations from AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal, who spoke about the financial state of the Federation, and Department of Labor Investigator Nicolle Spallino, who spoke about locals and their need for financial safeguards, internal controls, and record-keeping.

AFM President Ray Hair brought the group up to date on several issues, including negotiations for Pamphlet B, the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SLRA), and TV agreements. He spoke about changes in media consumption and the Federation’s new revenue streams to help underwrite the Special Payments Fund and the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF). Then, Hair was joined by employer and employee representatives for a discussion of the AFM-Employers’ Pension Fund.

AFM Legislative and Political Director Alfonso Pollard reviewed the many issues he has been wrestling in our nation’s capital: copyright and intellectual property legislation, instrument carry-on rules for domestic and international travel, national “right to work” legislation, and immigration.

Labor Attorney Harvey Mars closed Saturday’s business with the address, “The Impact of the Trump Administration Upon Labor in the Arts and What We Can Do About It.” Mars stressed three actions Federation musicians should take to keep themselves strong: fight for the NEA and other federally funded arts and cultural programs; fight for the right to be treated as employees and not independent contractors so that we can receive our full rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act; and fight to protect the right to organize and to protect union security—fight against right to work legislation. (See page 6 for a longer synopsis.)

On Sunday morning, the first speaker was MPTF Trustee Dan Beck, who updated the conference on the activities of his organization. Following Beck, two Federation employees, Symphonic Services Division (SSD) Director/Special Counsel Rochelle Skolnick and Touring/Theatre/Booking Division Director Michael Manley, gave presentations.

Skolnick described the personnel and operations of the SSD. She spoke about the SSD Resource Center in the For Members/Document Library section of the AFM website. She explained that serving as one of the AFM’s three in-house legal counsels allows for more efficiency as the AFM aggressively enforces its media agreements. She then reviewed recent legal actions.

Skolnick also spoke about the Federation’s new three-part approach to local officer training: webinars; two days of education held prior to the regional local conferences; and three-day intensive retreats to foster mentorships and peer-to-peer help. Well-trained local officers are more important than ever in strengthening the Federation and providing support to our members.

Manley’s presentation was “Freelance for Hire, Gig Organizing Strategies for Local Officers.” He addressed work not covered by collective bargaining agreements, such as single engagements of musicians hired to back up touring artists (Idina Menzel, for example) or productions such as The Legend of Zelda. Manley encouraged local officers to become familiar with contractors, venues, and peer unions in their jurisdictions, and to know what events are taking place in the venues.

Additional conference business included the adoption of new and revised bylaws and the election of officers. The current Eastern Conference Board is: President Matthew Cascioli, secretary of Local 45 (Allentown, PA); 1st Vice President Tom Olcott, financial vice president of Local 802 (New York City); 2nd Vice President Pat Hollenbeck, president of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA); 3rd Vice President Tony Scally, president of Local 16-248 (Newark/Paterson, NJ); 4th Vice President Michael Angelucci, president of Local 341 (Norristown, PA); and Secretary-Treasurer Mary Plaine, secretary-treasurer of Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD).

Many thanks to all the people who helped bring the Eastern Conference to life, with a special thank you to Angelucci, who was the conference’s lifeline to the hotel.

Next year’s Eastern Conference is planned for April 14-15 and will again take place at the Valley Forge Casino Resort.

The FIM IOC “Oslo Call”: Orchestras Must Work Together

by Naomi Bensdorf Frisch, ROPA Delegate to FIM IOC and Member of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) and Local 166 (Madison, WI)

AFM President Ray Hair gives opening remarks at the 4th FIM IOC in Montreal, Canada.

The fourth International Federation of Musicians (FIM) International Orchestra Conference (IOC) was held May 11-14 in Montreal, Quebec. Musicians and managers from six continents gathered at the Delta Hotel for three days of intense discussions about the challenges faced and successes achieved by orchestras around the world. The AFM brought a strong group of delegates to the conference: President Ray Hair; Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert; Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal; International Executive Board member and Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi; Symphonic Services Director Rochelle Skolnick; Symphonic Electronic Media Director Deborah Newmark; ICSOM Chair Meredith Snow; OCSM President Robert Fraser; and I served as the ROPA representative.

An opening reception honored Air Canada with the FIM Airline of Choice Award for accommodating musicians traveling with their instruments. The next morning opened with a lively speech by AFM President Hair who called for orchestra musicians to receive a share of ad revenue generated from orchestras’ pages and posts on online streaming services. Next, Allison Beck, former Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service director, delivered an inspirational keynote speech. She urged the delegates from all over the world to stay strong in this difficult political climate and keep working together to promote our missions. Recalling how Ford was able to pull out of the recession through good labor relations with the United Auto Workers, Beck reminded us that a good labor-management relationship is a “port in your storm,” and when musicians and managers are able to work together “anything is possible.” 

Over the course of the three-day conference, eight topics were presented in panel discussion format: 1) The Public Value of Orchestras; 2) Business Models of Orchestras; 3) Orchestras Integrating Digital Tools and New Approaches; 4) Responsibility and Accountability: Role of Musicians on Orchestra Boards; 5) Bullying and Harassment; 6) Practical Aspects of Outreach and Education; 7) Recorded Broadcasts and Rights of Musicians; and 8) The Role of Trade Unions in Safeguarding the Future of the Orchestra. Each panel comprised four speakers (each from a different country) and a moderator. Panelists generally discussed what was working or not working in their home countries regarding each of the topics, allowing an opportunity for the delegates to learn from global experiences.

At the FIM IOC AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal (far right) moderated a panel on The Public Value of Orchestras. Panel members (L to R) were: Katherine Carleton (Canada), Hans Reinhard Biere (Germany), Benedictus Acolatse (Ghana), and Déborah Cheyne (Brazil).

Some panels had widely different views, for instance, the panel on digital tools. One musician spoke about using digital conferencing to provide outreach and education services, another musician spoke about embracing smart phones in the concert hall, and an archivist from the New York Philharmonic shared her experience creating a digital catalogue of the orchestra’s music. I spoke on the panel about the role of musicians on orchestra boards. In the beginning, the four of us seemed to have very different approaches. By the end of the conversation, however, we all agreed that, though communication between the board and musicians is very important, musicians should not hold seats on orchestra boards. Overall, the panel discussions allowed for the presentation of many different perspectives, which, when supplemented by questions and comments from the delegates, painted a picture of how orchestras are surviving in today’s world.

FIM IOC attendees listen to a panel on Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace. On stage (L to R) are: Michael D. Wright (Canada), Simon Webb (United Kingdom), Kaisa Rönkkö (Finland), Thomas Bjelkerud (Sweden), and moderator Rochelle Skolnick, AFM Symphonic Services Division director. During the conference, translation was provided in English, Spanish, and French.

The “Oslo Call,” established at the third FIM IOC in 2015, calls on musicians and managers around the world to become active in their communities and lobby politicians to help the arts to thrive. In Montreal, the fourth FIM IOC took the Oslo Call one step further, urging solidarity among musicians around the world and advocating for transparent, trusting relationships between orchestra managers and musicians. Delegates left the conference with an understanding that they are not alone; that they have colleagues to lean on in times of need. But further, it is apparent that, though we all have our roles to play, orchestras thrive when the union, musicians, managers, and board (or the government, in the case of our subsidized colleagues in Europe) have a healthy working relationship.

We need to work together to make ourselves relevant and valuable in our communities; to run our organizations responsibly and with good stewardship; to stop bullying, harassment, and exploitation of musicians around the world; and to ensure our own bright futures. Thanks to ROPA and to the AFM for allowing me to be a part of such a special event.

33rd Annual Conference of the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association

ROPA’s 33rd Annual Conference and Guiding Principles

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

As I am in the final days of planning the 33rd Annual Conference of the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA), my first as president, I find myself looking back on earlier conferences that I attended. I think of the wonderful and informative presentations I have witnessed, the people I have met, the discussions, situations, and issues, which  came up that educated and empowered me, my colleagues, and others who have attended our conferences.

In 2011, at the ROPA Executive Board’s mid-year meeting in Phoenix (the location of this year’s annual conference), the board participated in a strategic planning session. The goal was to create a guiding document that would assist the board in defining ROPA and its role in the leadership of the organization.

What is ROPA? We are professional musicians of medium and small budget symphonic, chamber, ballet, and opera orchestras with AFM collective bargaining agreements. We are a service organization with more than 5,000 musicians and 86 orchestras represented in our membership. We represent these regional orchestra musicians as members of the AFM at national and international forums.

Who does ROPA serve? ROPA serves the musicians of our orchestras. We serve future musicians by protecting today’s jobs for tomorrow. We serve all orchestras—what affects one affects all. We serve the AFM. We serve the communities our orchestras play in. And we serve the elected representatives of those orchestras, the ROPA delegates, and orchestra committees of our orchestras.

Why does ROPA exist? ROPA exists to provide knowledge and tools to our musicians to assist them in establishing fair working conditions and to educate them about industry standards, labor law, procedures, and practices. ROPA also empowers and enables our colleagues to better their lives in their workplace and to organize and communicate with colleagues and their community when there are those intent on dismantling organized labor nationwide.

ROPA is a place for our member orchestras to turn to for support. We have established a forum for discussion of concerns, current trends, and solutions. ROPA provides assistance for orchestras in crisis with advice and information, and works to create fair collective bargaining agreements, working conditions, and compensation.

In what ways do we seek to accomplish our goals? Information sharing is key—orchestra to orchestra, musician to musician, players’ conference to players’ conference, and with the AFM; this is vital to our mission. Information is shared through email lists, our website, Facebook, telephone calls, our quarterly newsletter The Leading Tone, and of course, our annual conference. Within ROPA orchestras, we work to create an atmosphere of concern and commitment for our common cause. This is primarily done through our network of ROPA delegates selected by each orchestra and AFM local.

I encourage all AFM members who have an interest in orchestras, especially regional orchestras, to attend our annual conference August 1-3 in Phoenix, Arizona, at the Westin Phoenix Downtown Hotel. You can get more information and register for the conference and hotel on the ROPA website: ropaweb.org/support/2017-annual-
conference/. Members of ROPA orchestras and other interested AFM members may join our moderated email discussion list:

We are stronger together!

Finally, I wanted to give a huge shout-out and thanks on behalf of ROPA to the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, members of ICSOM, for the generous contribution of $10,000 to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s endowment campaign. This campaign included a provision where funds could be specifically designated for productions with live orchestral music. In 2005, the 49-member Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra was nearly eliminated in a cost-cutting move with the announcement of the use of recordings for the entire season. While the orchestra was able to return the following season, it was cut from five to two productions a season, where it has remained ever since. This is a huge show of support for their local ROPA colleagues!


Return to the ECMAs in Full Force

by CFM Executive Director Liana White


CFM staff co-hosted a panel for emerging artists. (L to R) are: CFM International Represenative Allistair Elliott and Licensing coordinator Rosalyn Dennett and Musician Pension Fund Canada Administration Director Jill Giustino and Benefits Director Humbert Martins. (Not pictured is CFM Membership Services Coordinator Cathy Lee.)

In light of the renewed relationship between the Canadian Office (CFM) and the East Coast Musicians Association, staff from the Musicians Pension Fund of Canada and Canadian Office participated in most facets of the weeklong East Coast Music Awards, which were held in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The CFM and the Fund hosted a joint information panel targeted at emerging artists, most of whom were registered in the ECMA Mentorship Program, offering a series of practical business seminars to those artists. Our panel was well attended, and we were pleased that ECMA Board Members took the time to attend and learn more about our union. The feedback received was very positive, leaving both sides with a better understanding that will lead us positively in our efforts to enrich the lives of professional musicians. As also provided for within our agreement, we participated in the exhibit area ensuring we reached as many musicians and industry representatives as possible.

Many of our members attended and performed at the ECMAs, and many of those members were nominated for and/or won awards. We proudly congratulate all AFM members who were recognized for their talents at the award level. The CFM team on the ground enjoyed seeing so many of our talented members perform. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we are unable to list all of these members. However, we would like to recognize Local 820 (St. John’s, NL) President Greg Bruce, who performed with his party-jazz band, Ouroboros, and received a standing ovation. And Local 820 Executive Director Rozalind McPhail won the ECMA Award for Electronic Recording of the Year. Last, but not least, is Local 815 (Saint John, NB) President Greg Marks who performed even after spending long days with the CFM staff in the exhibit booth. It is always helpful and appreciated to have our (jurisdictional) local officers participating alongside the Federation staff.

In addition to many members, potential members, and industry representatives, we also connected with heads of the four provincial East Coast music industry associations with which we have continued to work on forging closer relationships, not just on the national level but with the respective local in each province.

While the event went well overall, there are a few matters surrounding the contracting of certain performances that are still being ironed out and will definitely be corrected for next year’s 30th Anniversary ECMA Week in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Again, I’d like to thank the local officers named above for their participation, as well as the Fund and CFM staff who represented a strong and positive presence for our union.

International Orchestra Conference

International Orchestra Conference Welcome to Montreal

AFM President Ray Hair addresses the 3rd International Federation of Musicians (FIM)International Orchestra Conference (IOC) in Oslo, Norway in 2014.

In May, Montreal will welcome the 4th International Orchestra Conference (IOC), hosted by the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) and co-organized by Québec Musicians’ Guild, AFM Local 406 (Montreal, PQ). The IOC 2017 will have a prestigious official ambassador: maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, recently named music director of the Metropolitan Opera, music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and artistic director and principal conductor of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain.

Famous for its creativity and vibrant art scene, Montreal will be the first North American city to host the conference. Previously, the event was held in Berlin (2008), Amsterdam (2011), and Oslo (2014). In Oslo, 240 delegates from about 40 countries were reunited to network, debate, and discuss the major issues and unprecedented challenges faced by orchestras around the world in the 21st century.

For 2017, the programme of the conference will include the following topics: public value of orchestras, business models of orchestras; digital tools, and new approaches; responsibility and accountability: the role of musicians on orchestra boards; respective roles of trade unions and management regarding bullying and harassment; recorded broadcasts and the rights of musicians; and the role of trade unions in safeguarding the orchestra. At the end of the conference, the delegates will adopt a final declaration. A concert of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal at the Maison Symphonique, a beautiful concert hall inaugurated in 2011, is also part of the programme.

Home of NHL’s famous hockey team, the Canadiens, and Cirque du Soleil, Montreal is also the city where Leonard Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, and Céline Dion grew up. The second most populous city in Canada, the bilingual and multicultural metropolis is the perfect mix between North American modernism and European heritage, brought by the French and the British, and reflected in its architecture and its unique “joie de vivre.”

The city, which celebrates its 375th anniversary in 2017, is well known for its friendly atmosphere, its lively nightlife, its delicious bagels, and its iconic Olympic stadium, among many other things. Montreal also has a rich music scene, with many classical ensembles and major symphony orchestras, the internationally acclaimed Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Maestro Kent Nagano, and Orchestre Métropolitain, conducted by Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The conference will take place May 11-14 at the Delta Hotel located downtown. It is an opportunity not to be missed. For more information, please visit the website: www.ioc.fim-musicians.org.

Welcome to Montreal!

tma conference

2016 TMA Conference in the Nation’s Capitol

Tom MendelWby Tom Mendel, Theatre Musicians Association President Emeritus and Member of AFM Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL)

Our 21st Annual TMA Conference was held at the Loews Madison Hotel in Washington, DC, August 22-23. Lee Lachman of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) (on behalf of TMA Washington, DC, Chapter President Paul Schultz), Local 161-710 President Ed Malaga, and myself welcomed the attendees.

AFM President Ray Hair spoke about the 100th AFM Convention, his history bargaining and negotiating in Dallas and Ft. Worth, Pamphlet B, and fairness for subs and alternates in orchestras.

In my president’s report, I stated the theme of this conference: the Future of TMA. Two hours of the afternoon session were devoted to a round-table discussion of this topic. I reported on the Pamphlet B negotiations in which TMA has a very active role; the formation a Keyboard Subbing Committee because of what we consider unfavorable practices involving keyboard subs; the formation of the TMA Officers & Members Video Training Committee to produce training videos for TMA officers and members on select subjects such as running a meeting, use of social media, and more. These will be great learning tools located in our TMA Officers Toolbox. I gave a PowerPoint demonstration of a new video on membership recruitment and retention.

I read TMA resolutions of recognition to Carla Lehmeier-Tatum of Local 618 (Albuquerque, NM) for nine years of service as ROPA president and Bruce Ridge of Local 500 (Raleigh, NC) for 10 years of service as ICSOM chair. OCSM President Robert Fraser of Local 247 (Victoria, BC) and Ridge gave eloquent player conference reports. Ridge read an ICSOM resolution recognizing me for my years of service with TMA. I read a report from new ROPA President Mike Smith of Local 30-73 (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN). Local 161-710 treated conference attendees to a delicious lunch.

AFM Touring/Theatre/Booking and Immigration Director Michael Manley gave a report on Pamphlet B negotiations. He compared data from current “full” Pamphlet B tours and those touring on the SET Agreement. He also described the work his office truly does and the people working in it.

TMA Chapter, Broadway, Membership-at-Large, and Traveler Director reports followed. Legislative Chair Walter Usiatynski of Local 802 (New York City) and Chapter and Membership Recruitment Chair Debbie Brooks of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX) gave standing reports. Lovie Smith-Wright of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX) and 60-471 (Pittsburgh, PA) gave the Diversity Committee report.

tma conference

AFM President Ray Hair addresses the TMA Conference while then TMA President Tom Mendel listens on.

TMA Parliamentarian Paul Castillo of Locals 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and 353 (Long Beach, CA) introduced and moderated the Future of TMA round-table discussion, which resulted in three areas for TMA Executive Board consideration.

The second day began with the executive board report. TMA Webmaster Stephen Green of Locals 47 and 7 (Orange County, CA) gave his report. Newly elected AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal gave brief introductory remarks. AFM IEB Member and Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi spoke about the new Local 802 Broadway contract. He reported that there were more than 300 musicians working on Broadway contracts.

Local 161-710 President Malaga and Executive Board Member Patrick Plunk gave a special report on organizing the Olney Theatre and its successful effort to become unionized.

Elections results were as follows: President Tony D’Amico of Locals 9-535 (Boston, MA) and 198-457 (Providence, RI); Vice President Paul Castillo; Secretary-Treasurer Mark Pinto of Locals 9-535, 198-457, and 126 (Lynn, MA); Broadway Director Jan Mullen of Local 802; Membership-at-Large Director Lovie Smith-Wright; and Travelers Director Angela Chan of Local 369 (Las Vegas, NV).

Chapter directors elected locally include: Walt Bostian (Boston) of Locals 9-535, 126, and 198-457; Heather Boehm (Chicago) of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL); Alan Ayoub (Detroit) of Local 5 (Detroit, MI); David Philippus (Las Vegas) of Local 369; Steve Sanders (Northern California) of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA); Jeff Martin (Phoenix) of Local 586 (Phoenix, AZ); Stephen Green (Southern California); Vicky Smolik (St. Louis) of Local 2-197 (St. Louis, MO); and Paul Schultz (Washington, DC) of Local 161-710.

AFM President Ray Hair swore in all officers, chapter directors, and alternates present. Congratulations to Tony D’Amico, Paul Castillo, Mark Pinto, and the executive board on their elections. We are in great hands. TMA’s future is bright!

It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as TMA president for the past  five years. I extend a special thanks to TMA vice presidents Walter Usiatynski (2013-2016) and Michael Manley (2011-2013) and secretary-treasurers Mark Pinto (2012-present) and Local 10-208 member Leo Murphy (2011-2012) for their outstanding service to TMA. I also thank all of the past and present members of the executive board for their service. TMA is a voluntary organization. The time and effort given by our local and national representatives is greatly appreciated.

2016 Symphonic Player Conference Schedule

ROPA Conference  |  July 26-28  |  Madison, Wisconsin

The 2016 annual Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) Conference will be held July 26-28. A negotiations seminar will take place July 25, starting in the morning. The ROPA Executive Board offers their sincere appreciation to Local 166 (Madison, WI), Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and Madison Symphony for their gracious hospitality in hosting the conference. For more information visit the ROPA website (ropaweb.org)

OCSM Conference  |  August 8-12  |  Calgary, Alberta

The 2016 Conference of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) will be held August 8-12, Hotel Arts. All AFM members are welcome to attend open sessions, August 9-11. For more information, please visit the OCSM website (ocsm-omosc.org).

ICSOM Conference   |  August 24-27  |  Washington, DC

The 2016 International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Conference will be held August 24-27 at the Loews Madison hotel, hosted by the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Washington National Opera Orchestra, and Local 161-710 (Washington, DC). Follow the conference site links from the ICSOM website (icsom.org) for more information.

Making the Most of Player Conference Membership

by Robert Fraser, OCSM President and Member of Local 247 (Victoria, BC)

robertFraserAt this writing, many of our orchestras in the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) are finishing up their regular seasons. The OCSM Executive Board is in “summer mode”—getting ready for all the various summer conferences, including our own. This summer our conference will be at the Hotel Arts in Calgary. All are invited to attend the open sessions August 9-11.

Another set of dates you may wish to save: May 11-14, 2017. This is when the fourth triennial International Orchestra Conference of the International Federation of Musicians will be held, in Montreal, Quebec. The International Federation of Musicians—known by its French acronym, FIM—is a member organization of approximately 70 musicians’ unions from all over the world, including the AFM. Since 2008, FIM has been holding orchestral musicians’ conferences every three years, and we’re thrilled that Local 406 will be hosting the 2017 conference.

All the player conferences report to you through their delegates and through the International Musician, so conference activities are probably well known to you. Representatives from each orchestra give reports on their orchestra’s activities throughout the year. We zero in on specific issues and topics and establish working committees that consult throughout the season (especially on issues such as electronic media). We hear from all parties related to our industry: union leadership, management service organizations, pension funds, legal experts, and guest speakers in fields ranging from public relations to health and safety. For example, this summer, former Alberta Senator Tommy Banks will be addressing the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) Conference. Many of you will have worked with Banks, as he has been a part of Canada’s music scene for many years. He will be giving us an insider’s look into the workings of government in Ottawa.

Since the activity of our conference will be reported in detail later, I will devote the rest of this space to ways you can help OCSM. OCSM is a grassroots organization; it is run by your volunteer delegates and is meant to be a network of musicians acting as one. (I will refrain from making obvious analogies about orchestras!) OCSM thrives on the activities of its members, so here’s how you can help:

For Orchestra and Negotiating Committee Members

Please include your OCSM Delegate in your regular deliberations and communications. In cases where the OCSM Delegate is on one or both of these committees, that’s not a problem, but sometimes we have delegates who feel “out of the loop” because there are poor lines of communication. An OCSM Delegate can be a valuable asset. Because they have attended multiple conferences, met key people from each orchestra, and gained valuable knowledge, they can assist in a number of situations. Furthermore, the delegates communicate to each other through a secure e-mail list, so they can easily gather and share information.

For Long-Serving
Orchestra Musicians

Take time to compile your orchestra’s history. As orchestral musicians we do a good job of passing our musical knowledge to the next generation. But what about our knowledge of negotiations, strikes, temporary shut-downs, changes in our orchestra’s business practices, search committees, and so forth? In my 25 years as a musician I have seen too many things repeated from orchestra to orchestra that should not have been. Staff and boards come and go, but some orchestra members that have been there longer than 40 years. Use them. I wrote an article about this in OCSM’s newsletter Una Voce last year. A good place to start is to make a simple chart of your orchestra’s negotiating history for the last three contracts. Be sure to at least include wage changes for each year and your orchestra’s operating expenses. Thankfully, some of this has been done for all of you already. The AFM is in the process of putting all our OCSM wage chart data online, going back several years.

Other Ways to Get Involved

Perhaps most importantly, there are ways to get involved and help your orchestra and OCSM without spending hours on a committee. I understand that some people in your orchestra will never be on the orchestra committee or the negotiating committee, and that’s okay. But do you have a skill that could be put to use part-time? For example, if you are good at photography, take candid pictures from the musicians’ perspective. These are great for musicians’ social media presence. Maybe you write well. Offer to write a blog or newsletter article. Maybe you work well with children and do a lot of outreach concerts. Share your experiences with us; these stories are a gold mine when musicians need some press presence.

OCSM’s mission is to be the voice of Canadian professional orchestral musicians. I look forward to meeting with your delegates very soon to hear about all of your contributions to our great profession this year.