Tag Archives: info


Webinar Provides Resources for Travel with Instruments Containing Protected Species

The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was created to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. There are 183 parties to CITES, which meet every three years. The most recent meeting, CITES COP17, was held last fall in South Africa. (You can read more about this meeting in AFM Legislative and Political Director Alfonso Pollard’s November 2016 IM column.)

On December 7, a webinar co-hosted by the AFM, as well as the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, Carnegie Hall, Chamber Music America, League of American Orchestras, NAMM, and The Recording Academy, highlighted new rules for protected species and musical instruments. If you missed it, you can view the webinar from the website: www.afm.org/2016/12/travel-instruments-containing-endangered-species. Following are some highlights from the webinar.

Protected Species

Musicians should be aware that certain interstate or international activities with wood or wildlife products such as wooden instruments or instruments with ivory inlays are prohibited or regulated under international and domestic law. Before you acquire a new instrument or make plans to travel with an instrument made of protected wood or wildlife species, you should make plans to ensure compliance.

CITES protected species (about 5,000 animals and 35,000 plants) are listed in three appendices:

Appendix 1: Species threatened with extinction. Commercial trade is generally prohibited.

Appendix 2: Species vulnerable to overexploitation but not at risk of extinction. Commercial and noncommercial trade is allowed.

Appendix 3: Species protected by at least one country to address legal origin, not sustainability. Most activities are generally allowed.

The complete appendices are found at: cites.org/eng/app/appendices.php.


The backbone of CITES is a permit system that facilitates international cooperation in conservation and trade. Permits are issued only if a country’s management and scientific authorities determine trade is legal and does not threaten species’ survival. Permit requirements are:

Appendix 1 species: Require an import permit from the importing country and an export permit from the exporting country.

Appendix 2 species: Require an export permit or certificate from the exporting country.

Appendix 3 species: Require an export permit from the listing country and a certificate of origin from all others.

Pre-convention specimens: Require CITES certificates for export, but not import.

Musical instrument and traveling exhibition certificates:

Musical Instrument Certificate—a passport-like certificate for musical instruments that is issued to individuals.

Traveling Exhibition Certificate—a passport-like certificate for musical instruments that is issued to orchestras and ensembles.

These certificates are valid for up to three years and are intended for noncommercial purposes, including travel for performance. Single-use CITES Export/Re-Export Permits (form 3-200-32) are available for commercial purposes (sale). Application forms are available at: www.fws.gov/international/permits/.

Sometimes a permit is not required for musical instruments personally owned and containing less than 10 kg of these species of wood. If an individual is traveling with an instrument that contains only Appendix 2 and 3 species, he may qualify for a personal or household effects exemption. (Regulations on personal effects can be found at www.ecfr.gov.)

Travel Tips

For each instrument, gather as much information as possible: scientific name and common name of woods used, date of manufacture, evidence of lawful acquisition, and evidence of lawful import.

Print out regulations and keep them with the instruments for reference.

Keep and travel with documentation about the source and history of your instrument.

Consult with CITES Authorities in any countries to which you will be traveling prior to travel with an instrument containing a CITES species (www.cites.org/cms/index.php/component/cp).

If you are unsure about the status of the species you wish to import or export you can search by scientific name or common name on the CITES Species Database (www.speciesplus.net).

For more details on the Endangered Species Act visit www.fws.gov/endangered/. Or contact Alfonso Pollard (apollard@afm.org) for more information on travel with instruments containing protected species.

senza sordino

Senza Sordino: Stalwart of Unity

bruce-ridgeby Bruce Ridge, ICSOM Chairman and Member of Local 500 (Raliegh, NC)

Of the many important and indispensable services that the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) provides for its members and the members of the AFM at large, our vital communication network is perhaps the most crucial. Electronic mailing lists and social media give us the ability to communicate instantly with each other, spreading news of opportunities and difficulties, and sharing solutions for issues both old and new that arise for our musicians and their orchestras. Of all the tools that ICSOM makes available, none are more topical and historically significant than our quarterly newsletter, Senza Sordino.

In 1962, ICSOM’s founders knew that, in order for our orchestras to survive and thrive, they must unite, and that a newsletter that could be read throughout the union and the field would be of great importance. For the first time, the issues affecting orchestra musicians could be reported and analyzed by those who knew the issues best—the orchestra musicians themselves. Senza Sordino (Italian for “without mute”) would be the perfect name for this publication.

The first issue was published in January 1963. That issue reported on numerous revolutionary developments for orchestra musicians, including four orchestra summits that had been held in the past year. There were negotiation updates from Los Angeles and Chicago, and a report about how Philadelphia Orchestra musicians were rising up against an unwarranted musician discharge.

One line that jumps off the page in that first issue is from the Cincinnati Symphony, where musicians reported “Last month we were granted the right to ratify our contract.” It is a reminder that so many of the rights that musicians take for granted today were once fought for diligently, and that those benefits and rights are only there to enjoy because of the sacrifices of previous generations.

The complete archive of Senza Sordino is available on the ICSOM website (www.icsom.org). It makes for fascinating reading for anyone who has ever played in a symphony orchestra, or who may one day want to become a member of an orchestra. This archive constitutes a crucial history of symphonies over the past half-century, detailing how orchestras performed, thrived, suffered, and emerged stronger both in our communities and our union.

As a new generation of musicians and leaders joins our orchestras, a reading of any single issue of this newsletter from any year would provide a rich education. Taking the archive in its entirety, it is overwhelming to think of what is represented on these pages and what might have become of our orchestras and our union if not for the work of ICSOM.

Just as the first issue reported on crucial topics, so does the latest. The May 2015 issue includes information on how to utilize new social media platforms, how musicians are serving their communities by organizing benefit concerts, the importance of music education, and how Baltimore Symphony musicians rose up as a beacon of hope for their city at a time of need.

And just as the first issue reported on how the Cincinnati Symphony musicians had gained the right to ratify their contract, the July 2015 issue of Senza Sordino reports on the conclusion of an outstanding negotiation with considerable gains for that orchestra, gains that would have been inconceivable without the actions first reported in 1963.

Now we have other options for our network of communication, and we utilize them daily—Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail. But Senza Sordino remains a stalwart friend of orchestra musicians everywhere. We send each issue to every local office in the AFM, as well as to every member of ICSOM. Each new issue is added to the archive on ICSOM’s website, viewable at http://www.icsom.org/senza/index. We hope that every issue is read with great interest, and we further hope that you will take a moment to read a past issue from the archive. We have no doubt you’ll be amazed at the wealth of information to be found.

Useful AFM Legislative-Political Tools

Over the past two years, the AFM Office of Government Relations has developed new tools to help both local officers and our members navigate the many policy and political matters relevant to musicians. This month I would like to highlight these tools in an effort to make them easier to access. Each is available on our website for your use. I look forward to working with members, local officers, and conferences to help make more useful resources. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.

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