Tag Archives: ioc

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.

Make the Arts a Focal Point in Communities

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

The International Federation of Musicians (FIM), of which the AFM is a member union, held its fourth triennial International Orchestra Conference (IOC) in Montreal, May 11-14. It was the first time this event was held in North America. I would like to thank all the organizers at FIM headquarters in Paris and the officers and staff of Local 406 (Montreal, PQ) for organizing a wonderful conference. You can find summaries of conference discussions on the FIM IOC website (ioc.fim-musicians.org).

If I had to summarize the conference in a “tweet” it would be: “Orchestras all over the world face the same challenges—some more than others.” Thirty nations were represented. I fully expected the room to be divided into “haves” and “have-nots”—nations that have traditionally shown support for artistic institutions, contrasted with those where symphonic music is seen as a frill, a symbol of a foreign (and not necessarily friendly) culture, or even a threat. Instead, what I observed were remarkable similarities.

Every orchestra struggles with its own mission, defining its place in society. Every orchestra faces the same funding challenges—even those with strong government support. And every orchestra faces the challenges of the new reality in media. In every country, the burden of creating an orchestra’s recorded legacy and media presence is falling away from broadcasters and record companies, and onto the orchestra managements.

The organizers of FIM IOC are to be commended for reaching out to orchestra managements to participate in their conferences. Orchestras Canada held its annual conference during the same week as the Montreal conference and shared a common day with the FIM IOC. I have always believed that management/musician cooperation and collaboration, where appropriate, can only make our organizations stronger.

At the FIM IOC it was a thrill to hear both of OCSM’s Montreal-based orchestras perform in the same week: the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Orchestre Métropolitain. Both performed in the beautiful Maison Symphonique. Sitting in this hall built in 2011, made me think about Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations this year.

Arts Infrastructure in Canada

When Canada turned 100 in 1967 (and a number of provinces celebrated centennials shortly after), there was a lot of investment in performing arts infrastructure in Canada. Do an Internet search for “centennial concert hall” and you’ll see what I mean. Since then, however, not much has changed. Performing arts infrastructure hasn’t always kept up with the growth of our artistic institutions, the ever-increasing demands of population, and ever-changing community policies. Canadian cities that have been fortunate enough to build contemporary concert halls have done so through private-public partnerships, which aren’t always possible in mid and small population centres like Halifax, Nova Scotia; Victoria, British Columbia; or London, Ontario.

Canadian orchestras and our partner organizations in the ballet and opera world have grown immeasurably since 1967, yet many of our organizations are “homeless.” They rent facilities to perform in that, in some cases, were not designed to accommodate a symphony orchestra. They have nowhere to store a library or equipment, and they have no base of operations to engage in the ever-increasing activities that are expected of modern orchestras (supporting artists in nonsymphonic genres of music, making use of multimedia enhancements, or recording).

Aside from a much-needed new home for the Stratford Festival in Ontario, and a renovation at Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre, there is nothing on the radar in this sesquicentennial year—but it’s not too late. Let’s see what we can do to make the arts a focal point of our communities.

As always, I look forward to the round of player conferences this summer—ROPA, TMA, OCSM, and ICSOM. I hope to see many of you there. Have a great summer.

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!