Tag Archives: conference

A Glimpse of ROPA

carlaby Carla Lehmeier-Tatum, ROPA President and President of Local 618 (Albuquerque, NM)

The Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA), now in its 32nd year, represents 85 regional orchestras throughout the US. One main catalyst for starting ROPA three decades ago was to ensure there was a voice for musicians of regional orchestras within the AFM. The resounding motive for founding ROPA, which is often heard from the founding members, was the necessity to create an internal network to assist in establishing professional standards.

When I look back on my 10 years of service on the ROPA Board, I am pleased to report that our delegates are extremely engaged and communicate daily. This is no easy task. The day-to-day lives of regional orchestra musicians often entail membership in numerous orchestras, commuting, teaching, gigging, and working outside the field. ROPA Delegates are extremely in-tune with their industry through our delegate email list, as well as regular contact from our board members at large. Each quarter the ROPA Board sends out questions about the industry, their orchestras, and what assistance those orchestras might need.

I wanted to devote most of this column to a group of orchestras that has taken the lead in networking within ROPA. Years ago, ROPA Vice President Nancy Nelson, who at the time was the board member at large assigned to the opera and ballet orchestras, created regular communication between these 17 orchestras. This communication continued with current board member Mike Smith of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra who was assigned the delegates of the pit orchestras. I found it to be extremely powerful for the pit musicians to have this network as they face the challenge of rarely being seen by their audience.

We have witnessed ROPA pit orchestras connect successfully with their communities through Facebook and other social media, as well as establish musician-initiated programs that serve their communities. In Houston, the Houston Grand Opera musicians collected and donated instruments to area schools. The Houston Ballet created a “pit pal” program where students were invited to come down to the pit during the intermission of The Nutcracker. Musicians collected contact information and then mailed quarterly newsletters to the students with information about the musicians, music, cartoons, and puzzles. This program was shared with ROPA orchestras and has now been adopted by another.

Arizona Opera was one of the first ROPA orchestras to create a website and post YouTube videos to share information about the musicians as they contended with difficult contract negotiations eight years ago. In recent years, many positives have come from these initiatives. The musicians have continued to maintain contact with their community by posting regularly on Facebook. These initiatives have established advocacy campaigns for the musicians, the organization, and their art form. Despite the constant media focus on financial hardships in orchestras, ROPA opera and ballet companies have been highly successful, with record ticket revenue, sold out world premieres, innovative media projects, and unique outreach initiatives.   

These successes have enabled their organizations to thrive:

In June 2015, the Houston Grand Opera announced their endowment campaign raised $172.9 million, exceeding its $165 million goal. Total ticket sales in 2014-2015 reached 98% of capacity.

Minnesota Opera created a program called Seven Days of Opera, a festival of free, short, pop-up performances that brought opera to unexpected places in the Twin Cities community—malls, zoos, farmers markets, breweries and more. Ticket sales for Carmen broke all ticket sales records in the Minnesota Opera’s 52-year history.

The Dallas Opera has attracted substantial media attention, generated community awareness, and launched new programs that have realized increased single ticket sales, along with a steady stream of major gifts.        

Arizona Opera experienced great success in a four-year capital campaign that raised $3.1 million of its $5 million goal in the first year.

LA Opera hosts a website that includes bios of the musicians, a behind-the-scenes blog, video clips, stories of interests, social media, behind-the-curtain podcasts, live radio broadcasts, and live simulcasts. In January, the company added a performance of Figaro staged with the title characters as undocumented Mexican workers in present day Beverly Hills. The score was transformed into an entirely new English (and Spanglish) libretto.

Michigan Opera Theatre recently announced a balanced budget for fiscal year 2015. The overall increase in net assets for the financial year was $1.3 million, with revenues of $14.7 million. The company also reported a surplus in its operating budget in more than a decade with a year-end result of $532,582.

These amazing success stories provide a landscape for the musicians of opera and ballet orchestras to create natural advocacy campaigns through social media.

ROPA has featured PR specialist Randy Whatley, president of Cypress Media, at a number of ROPA conferences. He guided participants on how to effectively communicate their message to their communities. It is gratifying to see how this incredible resource has been utilized within our orchestras in both positive and difficult times.

I want to thank all of the ROPA Board Members and ROPA Delegates who have dedicated countless hours engaging their orchestra colleagues through initiatives that promote ownership, involvement, awareness, and pride. This invaluable investment provides a better future for musicians and our organizations.

Please mark your calendar and plan to attend the ROPA Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, July 26-28, 2016.

Celebrating Unity at 40th OCSM Conference

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

This year marked the 40th annual Conference of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM). For the first time, we met in Windsor, Ontario; now every single city with an OCSM orchestra has hosted a conference.

The conference was dedicated to the memory of Jim Biros, former CEO of Local 149 (Toronto, ON) and a great friend to both OCSM and the AFM. Part of Biros’ legacy was his work in putting together the Unity Conference between OCSM and the Canadian Conference of the AFM (CFM) in Toronto in 2012. It was fitting that this conference was dedicated to him, as it was our second Unity Conference. Our meeting day with the CFM was very productive, consisting of round-table discussions on two topics: the changing media landscape in Canada due to cutbacks at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the ever-relevant topic of making the AFM more beneficial to freelance musicians.

Windsor’s proximity to Detroit served us well; we had presentations on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) recovery from DSO Committee Chair Haden McKay. And there was a presentation from former DSO bassist Rick Robinson, a member of Locals 5 (Detroit, MI) and 9-535 (Boston, MA), who currently runs Classical Revolution Detroit, a very successful program that brings classical music into nontraditional settings.

Our conference traditionally begins with round-table reports from each orchestra. We had two new orchestras attend as observers this year, the Niagara Symphony Orchestra from St. Catharines, Ontario, and the acclaimed period-instrument ensemble Tafelmusik, from Toronto, Ontario.

One of our orchestras experienced a shutdown this past year. The ensemble formerly known as Orchestra London Canada has officially declared bankruptcy, but the musicians continue to perform and are planning a 2015-2016 season on their own. They perform under their social media hashtag, #WePlayOn musicians. The musicians are working hard to build community support. They have expressed gratitude to all the musicians in the AFM who have come to their assistance over the past year.

We had three main guest presenters this year: Randy Whatley, of Cypress Media, has worked with a number of ICSOM and ROPA orchestras over the past few seasons. We were happy to invite him to his first OCSM Conference. He gave an excellent primer on media and communications: establishing your orchestra musicians’ communications network through mailing lists, social media, and contact with the press.

We also had a presentation from the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA), represented by Dr. Christine Guptill. She gave an overview of PAMA’s activity and described physical and mental health issues often faced by performing musicians. OCSM legal counsel Michael Wright gave a presentation entitled “Bargaining in the New, New, New Economic Reality,” which reminded us of the powerful tool of rhetoric: we risk buying into the “austerity” arguments for restraint in the symphonic sector, not taking into account that we never really enjoyed prosperity during the “boom” times.

The routine business of the conference included work on new electronic media agreements (this is ongoing—there is much to be done in the areas of promotional media, streaming, and physical product media like CDs and downloads). There were presentations from AFM Symphonic Services Division staff covering new online wage charts, reports from the Musicians’ Pension Fund of Canada, and AFM officers. We also shared information with our sister player conferences.

The rich discussions of a four-day OCSM Conference can never be adequately summarized in a few short paragraphs. The real work of OCSM rests with its own members and delegates. We encourage all of our members to engage each other through our email list, in our publications, and through social media. OCSM exists so that no one orchestra faces its challenges alone. We wish everyone a successful symphonic season.


Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) Conference attendees at the 2015 conference in Windsor, Ontario.

ICSOM Delegates Gather in Philadelphia

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

ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge of Local 500 (Raleigh, NC), flanked by outgoing ICSOM Board officers Matt Comerford (left) of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) and Brian Rood of Local 34-627 (Kansas City, MO).

ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge of Local 500 (Raleigh, NC), flanked by outgoing ICSOM Board officers Matt Comerford (left) of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) and Brian Rood of Local 34-627 (Kansas City, MO).

This year’s International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Conference, held August 26-29 at the Sonesta Philadelphia Hotel, celebrated advocacy and diversity, and provided labor law education and important negotiating and contract administration ideas and information. Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA) pulled out all the stops to partner with The Philadelphia Orchestra musicians. Delegates and guests toured the Kimmel Center and attended a lovely mixer on a patio overlooking the center and the Academy of Music. They were also treated to a double-deck bus tour of some Philadelphia landmarks and historical sites, including the Liberty Bell and the Art Institute, where they were given a chance to run up its 72 steps and pose by the statue of Rocky Balboa.

The ICSOM Governing Board, with the assistance of Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Gloria dePasquale, scheduled a volunteer service the afternoon before the conference officially began. ICSOM delegates, officers, and members partnered with Philadelphia Orchestra musicians to provide music, greeters, and servers at Broad Street Ministry, which is right across the street from the Kimmel Center. Housed in a beautiful old sanctuary, with artwork hanging from the rafters, this organization supplies hundreds of Philadelphia’s homeless with meals, clothing, and other necessities. Musicians from Atlanta, Chicago Lyric, Dallas, Fort Worth, Hawaii, Kansas City, the Kennedy Center, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Utah orchestras performed and served during the dinner hour.

Wednesday morning, the conference began with stirring addresses by ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge (North Carolina Symphony/Local 500) and ICSOM President Brian Rood (Kansas City Symphony/Local 34-627). Keynote speaker Dr. Jane Chu, the 11th and current chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, shared her history as the child of Chinese immigrant parents. Chu, who was born in Oklahoma, spoke about how music shaped her life and enabled her to honor different perspectives and ideas.

icsom conference

ICSOM volunteer musicians and Philadelphia Orchestra members performed and served at Broad Street Ministry, which serves Philadelphia’s homeless population.

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra trombonist Weston Sprott of Local 802 (New York City) spoke briefly about the importance of music education. He is featured in a new film, Some Kind of Spark. It documents the impact of Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program (MAP), which offers lessons to talented, inner-city kids. Media veteran Randy Whatley of Cypress Media Group returned for his third ICSOM Conference to discuss lessons learned during the past few years of lockouts and potential job actions.

Joe Conyers (The Philadelphia Orchestra assistant principal bass/Local 77) spoke about the formation of Project 440, an organization that trains young musicians to serve their communities through classical music. Allison Beck, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), spoke about changes at FMCS and negotiation and relation-building assistance. She served as mediator and FMCS advisor during both the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra negotiations and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s lockout in 2014.

ICSOM Counsel Susan Martin led her third informative session of Delegate Duel, as four orchestra groups, along with AFM staff and local officers, competed to show off their understanding of labor law. AFM President Ray Hair’s presentation followed an explanation of the newly ratified Integrated Media Agreement (IMA).

Delegates learned about a documentary film and survey that update a 1987 ICSOM performance anxiety survey. They heard updates on the AFM & Employers’ Pension Fund. Leaders of the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM), Theater Musicians Association (TMA), and Recording Musicians Association (RMA) spoke to delegates. Delegates were given the opportunity to submit questions for a moderated session with AFM Symphonic Services Division staff.

icsom conference

(Above) ICSOM Governing Board (L to R): Senza Sordino Editor Peter de Boor (Local 161-710/Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra); Member-at-large (MAL) Matt Comerford (Local 10-208/Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra); Chair Bruce Ridge (Local 500/North Carolina Symphony); National Endowment for the Arts Chair Jane Chu; President Brian Rood (Local 34-627/Kansas City Symphony); Treasurer Michael Moore (Local 148-462/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra);
MAL Meredith Snow (Local 47/Los Angeles Philharmonic); MAL Jennifer Mondie (Local 161-710/National Symphony Orchestra); Secretary Laura Ross (Local 257/Nashville Symphony);
and MAL Paul Gunther, (Local 30-73/Minnesota Orchestra).

On the final day, attorneys Mel Schwarzwald and Joe Porcaro discussed bargaining presentations, information requests, and confidentiality agreements. Town meeting discussions included increased interest in finding solutions to protect musicians’ hearing from the excessive decibel levels that orchestras are dealing with as they perform more amplified pops and special concerts.

Delegates also dealt with bylaw changes and passed resolutions to honor outgoing ICSOM President Brian Rood, who stepped down at the end of the conference after serving 12 years as president, as well as Member-at-large and former ICSOM Electronic Media Chair Matt Comerford (Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra/Local 10-208). They also acknowledged the contributions of former ICSOM webmaster Charles Noble (Oregon Symphony/Local 99), retiring governing board members Mary Plaine (Member-at-large, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Local 40-543), and Nancy Griffin (ICSOM Secretary, Seattle Symphony/Local 76-493). Delegates recognized conductors Robert Spano and Donald Runnicles, members of 148-462 (Atlanta, GA), for their support of musicians during last year’s Atlanta Symphony Orchestra lockout. Additional resolutions acknowledged OCSM’s 40th and TMA’s 20th anniversaries, and offered support for Hartford Symphony Orchestra musicians. Finally, resolutions thanked ICSOM Braumeister Robert Grossman (Philadelphia Orchestra/Local 77) for creating five different beers for the conference, and every member delegate signed on to urge Colorado Symphony musicians to remain in the AFM.

The 2016 ICSOM Conference will be held in Washington, DC.

unity conference

Unity Conference Offers Valuable Union Insights to Attendees

The annual Canadian Conference, which took place in Windsor, Ontario, August 7-9, was special this year as it was a Unity Conference, held in conjunction with the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM). The two conferences normally have significantly different agendas. While the attendees to each come from different backgrounds and have completely different roles, they are all connected by one common denominator— membership in the AFM.

Meeting new people and building relationships is so very important in music, yet much of that personal contact has given way to social media contact. While the Internet is tremendously valuable, it cannot take the place of one-on-one conversations. This was an opportunity to get back to basics, learn each other’s role in the industry, take advantage of the networking possibilities, and learn from diverse thinking in problem-solving exercises.

There were presentations from Local 145 (Vancouver, BC) and Local 406 (Montreal, PQ) to help the delegates better understand the current lack of film scoring in Vancouver and the unique circumstances involved in bargaining in the province of Quebec. Both spawned considerable after-hours dialogue, resulting in at least one resolution to form a committee to address the changing film scoring scene and review the existing scoring agreements. While a primary concern of the Vancouver local, Quebec also has a huge vested interest in the possibility of attracting scoring from Europe and other French-speaking areas. In addition, there are other francophone communities in Canada that are a market for this content.

While many topics were discussed, one of the most urgent was work at festival and trade show events where, while live music is often centric, musicians are largely unpaid, yet recorded and broadcast on cable or Internet. Another was the status of freelance players who are not covered by collective agreements. While they represent the largest sector of the membership, they are also the most vulnerable to exploitation, unpaid gigs, and unauthorized recording, and therefore deserving of far more AFM attention and specific services. That said, our freelance musicians and self-contained bands are the most difficult to organize, since the concept of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) or collective actions are foreign to them. For the most part, they find their own shows, market to their specific fan base, produce and distribute their own recordings, and seldom give a thought to utilizing AFM contracts for any of it.

An area of particular concern to the OCSM delegates was the erosion of CBC remotes. In previous years, each orchestra looked forward to at least a half-dozen broadcasts, which would both significantly increase the revenue on the gig, and generate interest in classical music among listeners. With the government’s slashing of funding and subsequent budget cuts, the CBC is left airing existing commercial recordings. The OCSM Media Committee, along with representatives from the CFM, is looking at creative options.

One of the highlights of the conference was the address by AFM President Ray Hair. An information-packed PowerPoint show began with the formation of the AFM, its roots, opponents, and raison d’être. While touching on the evolution of the Federation, it outlined the current agreements in place with employers—both US and Canada—and progress that has been achieved in the area of performance rights, regulations, and negotiations with other countries, ensuring proper compensation for commercial uses of North American music. Hair continued, describing attempts at union-busting (unfortunately, much from within), as well as the solidarity necessary to overcome, adapt, and prevail. He further used the AFM’s controversy with the Musicians’ Rights Organization of Canada (MROC), in its initial stages, as an example of the benefits to members that could be accomplished with dialogue and patience.

Any Conference loaded with that much information, controversy, and constructive communication must be deemed a success, and the contributing factor, in no small part, was the careful planning and flawless execution by the officers and members of Local 566 (Windsor, ON). Special thanks to Secretary Lynne Wilson-Bradoc and President Chris Borshuk for their hard work, attention to detail, and of course, the presentation of some of the finest musicians in the Essex-Kent area.

It was also pleasing to note many musicians attending as visitors from the local, as well as local officers. Special thanks to Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi and Local 5 (Detroit, MI) President George Troia for attending and acting as resources for delegates. Members are always welcome and encouraged to attend these events to gain greater insight and see solidarity in action.

Pour la version francaise, cliquez ici.

20th Annual Theater Musicians Association Conference Highlights

The 20th Annual Theater Musicians Association (TMA) Conference was held at the Hotel Whitcomb in San Francisco, August 17-18. TMA Vice President Walter Usiatynski chaired Monday’s session. Usiatynski, TMA Northern California Chapter President Tom Bertetta, and Local 6 (San Francisco, CA) President David Schoenbrun welcomed the attendees.

AFM President Ray Hair made a very interesting and informative PowerPoint presentation on Media Convergence & Performance Rights. He recounted the AFM’s history from 1896 forward, eventually reviewing all types of AFM media agreements. He explained the tensions between US and international agencies that collect royalties and the progress that’s been made. He also discussed the AFM Integrated Media Agreement (IMA) and the SAG-AFTRA Fund/SoundExchange.

Above, AFM President Hair swears in 2015–2016 TMA Executive Board members present. Elected were: President Tom Mendel of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL), Vice President Walter Usiatynski of Local 802 (New York City), Secretary-Treasurer Mark Pinto of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA), Director for Broadway Jan Mullen of Local 802, Director for the Membership-at-Large Lovie Smith-Wright of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX), and Director for Travelers Angela Chan of Local 369 (Las Vegas, NV). Locally elected chapter directors include: Tony D’Amico (Boston), Dan Johnson (Chicago), Alan Ayoub (Detroit), David Philippus (Las Vegas), Steve Sanders (Northern California), Jeff Martin (Phoenix), Paul Castillo (Southern California), Vicky Smolik (St. Louis), and Paul Schultz (Washington, DC).

Above, AFM President Hair swears in 2015–2016 TMA Executive Board members present. Elected were: President Tom Mendel of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL), Vice President Walter Usiatynski of Local 802 (New York City), Secretary-Treasurer Mark Pinto of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA), Director for Broadway Jan Mullen of Local 802, Director for the Membership-at-Large Lovie Smith-Wright of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX), and Director for Travelers Angela Chan of Local 369 (Las Vegas, NV). Locally elected chapter directors include: Tony D’Amico (Boston), Dan Johnson (Chicago), Alan Ayoub (Detroit), David Philippus (Las Vegas), Steve Sanders (Northern California), Jeff Martin (Phoenix), Paul Castillo (Southern California), Vicky Smolik (St. Louis), and Paul Schultz (Washington, DC).

Among the topics discussed in my TMA President’s Report were: preparing for the Pamphlet B Negotiations (current contract expires 3/11/16); the formation of the Theatrical Orchestrations Committee because some publishing houses are no longer making some of the larger orchestrations available; reduced orchestrations; the formation of the TMA Officers & Members Video Training Committee to produce training videos for TMA officers and members on subjects such as running meetings, use of social media, etc. These will be great learning tools and located in our TMA Officers Toolbox.

TMA Vice President Walter Usiatynski gave a report on current and upcoming challenges, such as reduced orchestrations, nonunion tours, and our health care crisis. TMA Secretary-Treasurer Mark Pinto discussed TMA finances. All TMA chapter directors gave reports either directly or through their alternate directors.

Recording Musicians Association (RMA) President Marc Sazer and Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) Vice President Nancy Nelson eloquently gave player conference reports. I read equally eloquently reports written by International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Chair Bruce Ridge and Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) President Robert Fraser.

Membership-at-Large Director Lovie Smith-Wright read her report. Usiatynski read reports from Director for Broadway Jan Mullen and Director for Travelers Jamie Schmidt.

AFM Director for Touring, Theatre, Booking and Immigration Michael Manley reported on Pamphlet B tours currently on the road using comparative data of Full Pamphlet B tours and those touring under the SET Agreement. An interesting statistic was how overages have been a great way to equalize the salary differences between the two.

Usiatynski gave the Legislative Standing Committee Chair report and read the Chapter and Membership Recruitment Standing Committee Chair report written by Debbie Brooks. Lovie Smith-Wright reported on the Diversity Committee.

To my knowledge, for the first time, the TMA Executive Board limited guest speakers in order to hold breakout sessions to identify issues affecting musical theatre musicians and possible solutions. Topics included: reduced orchestrations, theatre musicians asked to supply headshots and/or audition tapes, keyboard subbing, as well as the questions “what is TMA doing that it should not be doing?” and “what is TMA not doing that it should be doing?”

The second day began with the Executive Board report. TMA Webmaster Stephen Green gave his report. AFM Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio reported on political and social activism and the upcoming 100th AFM Convention. AFM IEB Member and Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi talked about the relationship that he has with the British Musicians’ Union and common interests and concerns between London’s West End productions and those on Broadway. Paul Castillo gave a report on the Local Conferences’ Council/Players’ Conferences Council (LCC/PCC) Conference in Las Vegas last month.

(Right) Following a special report from Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) President Ed Malaga on organizing the Olney Theatre, all of the members at our conference did a photo shoot wearing stickers congratulating Olney Theatre musicians on their successful unionization.

(Right) Following a special report from Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) President Ed Malaga on organizing the Olney Theatre, all of the members at our conference did a photo shoot wearing stickers congratulating Olney Theatre musicians on their successful unionization.

It was a distinct honor and highlight of this the 20th Annual Conference to have a panel discussion with the original TMA Steering Committee who helped found TMA. They included: Gordon Messick (chair), David Schoenbrun (secretary), Larry Souza (treasurer), Artie Storch (editor of Pit Bulletin), and Melinda Wagner (advisor). Special mention was made of deceased member Wayne Allen (advisor). The panel spoke on the founding of TMA. On behalf of TMA, I would like to extend them a special thanks. We have to know where we came from to know where we’re going.

TMA would like to thank outgoing officers Christina Steffen and Jamie Schmidt for their service. TMA is a voluntary organization and the time and effort given by our local and national representatives is greatly appreciated.

TMA is dedicated to ensuring live music remains a vital and valued part of theatrical musicals now and in the future. Our purpose is to represent and serve the needs of local and touring theatre musicians. See if we are a good fit for you. Check out our website: afm-tma.org, or social media sites Twitter: Theatre Musicians@TMAMusicians and Facebook: Theatre Musicians Association – TMA. Don’t forget to “like” us!

2015 ROPA Conference Details

The 31st annual Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) Conference will be held at the Toledo, Ohio, Grand Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, July 28-July 30. An AFM negotiations seminar will take place July 27, starting in the morning. The conference room rate at the Grand Plaza Hotel is $99 per night, with a reservation cut-off date of June 25. (Use promo code 01G_123).

The ROPA Executive Board offers its sincere appreciation to Local 15-286 (Toledo, OH) President Alan B. Taplin and Secretary Emilie Sargent, ROPA Delegate Katherine Cosgrove, and Alternate Delegate Nora Shankin for their gracious hospitality in hosting the conference.

OCSM/CFM Unity Conference to Be Held in August

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

In my March 2014 article in the International Musician I pointed out that 2014 marked the 40th anniversary of the meetings that led to the formation of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM). OCSM’s first stand-alone meeting was held in Edmonton a year later, in 1975, and OCSM’s inaugural conference was held in Toronto the year after that. So this summer will be our 40th Conference. We are pleased to announce that it will be held alongside the AFM Canadian Conference in Windsor, Ontario, from August 7-11. August 8 will be a shared day between the two conferences. Details will be provided in a future issue of the IM.

In Between Conferences

Like the other symphonic player conferences, OCSM is a network of orchestral musicians that works within the AFM, and with other interested industry partners, to advocate for its members and to share valuable information. Readers of the IM are well aware of the work we do with the AFM Symphonic Services Division (SSD) to prepare the wage charts.

From time to time we deal with other specific issues. For example, a task force consisting of OCSM delegates, local officers, and representatives of Orchestras Canada recently prepared a submission to the Government of Canada about problems musicians and staff have encountered in our orchestras due to changes in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP). Occasionally, OCSM orchestras hire non-Canadian musicians, and the new TFWP rules have made it difficult for these musicians to qualify for provincial medical coverage, or to have work permits renewed while they are still under probation. We hope these submissions will produce some results.

Although we are all busy orchestral musicians (the executive included), OCSM delegates maintain open communication throughout the season. This is invaluable when orchestras are negotiating, and when issues arise where we need to seek the advice of colleagues. Each delegate reports mid-season to the executive, and topics are collected for open discussion and action at the conference. Such topics include: health and safety issues, new forms of media promotion of orchestras (especially social media), musician involvement in conductor and executive director searches, and musician involvement in education and outreach programs.

Orchestra London Canada Shutdown

Orchestra London Canada ceased operations December 2014. Their board has not officially declared bankruptcy, but staff have been laid off and all concert dates for the remainder of 2014-2015 were cancelled. The musicians of Orchestra London have rallied to keep music alive in their community, and have continued to perform on their own. You can find out more about their efforts at: https://musiciansorchestralondon.wordpress.com/. A call to action has seen donations from AFM members across North America, with musicians from close to 30 orchestras assisting their colleagues in London. This showing of solidarity makes me personally proud to be a member of this union.

Good Newslets

  • On March 19, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (Montreal Symphony Orchestra) announced a five-year record deal with Decca. That same week saw similar announcements from other orchestras: it would seem that major labels are reviving their interest in orchestral music. Fans of the OSM will know that their international reputation is due in part to the catalogue of more than 80 recordings made on the Decca label with former Music Director Charles Dutoit.
  • The Canadian Opera Company just finished its third production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Handel’s “Semele” in March (previous visits were in 1993 and 2011).
  • Symphony Nova Scotia ratified a five-year agreement that sees its season expand from 33 to 35 weeks with the addition of their first-ever summer season.
  • The Edmonton Symphony recently recorded the score for the CBC TV series The Great Human Odyssey with composer Darren Fung.