Tag Archives: local 161-710

DC Musician, Local Officer Finds Peace Through Sewing

When talking to musicians about their lives and careers, the phrase that always occurs during the conversation is: “…and then COVID hit.” It’s been a life- and career-changing event, and one that has allowed/forced musicians to spend time on special projects. For Marta Bradley—bass player and secretary-treasurer of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC)—that project was the creation of a 6-foot-by-7-foot quilt depicting images related to the year 2020 and the social justice events and aspects of that momentous time.

“I’m a quilter, but not a quilt artist. Generally, I make blankets and they’re meant to be comforting for friends and family. There’s always love behind every single one, which I make purposefully for somebody with them in mind,” she says. “It’s the art of the love that goes into it. It brings comfort not just in the way it feels, but hopefully in the gift of making it and that it’s special to each person.”

“But then COVID hit,” she continued, “and there were no gigs so there wasn’t a lot to do.” Being active in her church, which had congregants worshipping remotely, Bradley took the suggestion of the pastor that everyone create a special place to worship in their homes. Bradley made a table runner that represented the Pentecost—and then the George Floyd incident happened. The event and its ramifications on social justice in the US caused Bradley to decorate the runner as an homage to the growing Black Lives Matter movement. She created a map of the US in black, on which she sewed over 50 names of people murdered this year. She then added portraits of the victims most in the news last year: George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

“I’m not an artist; they weren’t meant to be portraits. It was more of a way for me to fit what this country has done over the years, and the horrors of systemic racism, and understand it,” she says. “It was a way for me to sit with it and to worship and say their names and learn about them and read their stories—to put them in a quilt and put them on an altar and pray their names.”

That was Bradley’s beginning in quilting her way through the pandemic and all the social injustice and racial tensions occurring through the country last year. She was also sewing face masks for the pandemic, and, after accruing a box of scraps, she thought maybe she would make a “scrap quilt” when she was done. During this time, one media photograph particularly resounded with her: A photo of seven-year-old Kai Ayden standing in front of a line of riot police, raising his fist while demonstrating in Atlanta on May 31. She decided to sew that image into a quilt block—“and then it just got going,” she says.

After that, Bradley made quilt blocks of people and events making news as heroes of 2020. Ultimately, she made 15 blocks, depicting images such as portraits of deceased Congressman John Lewis, deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Georgia Democratic politician Stacey Abrams. Bradley also made images depicting healthcare workers, firefighters, a police officer kneeling with BLM protestors, a teacher and student communicating through Zoom, her son graduating from high school, and she and her husband (also a musician) performing music on a balcony while neighbors listen.

“I wanted it to be something that showed, as time went on, not just 2020 but the heroes of 2020 and what makes us carry through and grow stronger as we go forward,” Bradley says.

The 15 blocks were put on a black background, with the lines in between them all representing roads, surrounded by a border made of scraps from her face masks (from her initial idea). On the roads and around the border are also images of other items: cars, people, food, medicine, and more. Of course, a union label was also included (right under Justice Ginsburg).

In the end, Bradley estimates it took her close to 250 hours of work to create the quilt. “It was something that I started that I couldn’t put down; I felt driven to do it,” she says. “It was a way to sit with each of these things, to sit with all of it, and find peace through sewing. I missed my friends, playing with them, creating music, and this was a way to put that energy into something.”

Bradley completed her quilt on December 27, 2020. She has no specific plan on what to do with the quilt, she says, but it will probably be hung on the wall in a guest bedroom in her house. “It won’t go on the bed. I have dogs. I put too much work into it for that,” she says with a laugh.

Marta Bradley, secretary-treasurer of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC),  poses with her social justice quilt, which depicts the events and heroes of 2020. She spent more than 250 hours of work on it.

Kennedy Center Ratifies One-Year Modification

In late October, the musicians of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra (KCOHO) and Washington National Opera (WNO), members of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC), ratified modifications to the third year of their agreements that expire on August 31, 2021.

Musicians had previously agreed in April 2020 to a 25% cut in all scale wages for the period from May 1 through August 31, 2020. By June, management signaled they wanted to have economic conversations about the 2020-21 season. Nothing was proposed until mid-September.

Initially, WNO sought a 27% reduction in the annual guarantee, and a freeze in wages based upon unmodified 2019-20 rates. Having successfully resisted several attempts in recent years to reduce annual guarantees, it was important that this guarantee not be decreased in this modification, so musicians instead accepted a pay reduction, which was commensurate with that accepted by their colleagues of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO). By pointing to standards established in NSO bargaining, KCOHO and WNO musicians were able to keep larger concessions at bay, thanks in part to the hard work of the NSO musicians at their bargaining table. The two current contracts expire August 2021.

National Symphony Orchestra Agrees to Modifications and Extends Contract

Musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) ratified the second of two “COVID agreements,” in September, addressing issues brought about by the pandemic.

Under the first COVID agreement, which was ratified in April, base salary was reduced to 75% through August 10. In addition, terms of the 2019 CBA—originally a four-year agreement—were extended for a fifth year, through September 2, 2024. Salary increases that had been negotiated for the second, third, and fourth years of the contract were delayed by one year.

The latest COVID agreement, which went into effect September 8, reduces base salary, seniority, and overscale to 75% for the 2020-21 season. In addition, 2% of wages will be earmarked as an Electronic Media Guarantee.

Orchestra size remains at 96 musicians plus two librarians, but one position in each section may be left vacant for the 2020-21 season. Participation in chamber music, education, and fundraising events will be voluntary through December 31, 2020.

As part of both COVID agreements, management agreed not to invoke Force Majeure through specified dates.

NSO musicians are represented by Local 161-710 (Washington, DC).

The Many Jazz Hats of Leigh Pilzer

A review on jazz saxophonist and arranger Leigh Pilzer’s website describes her playing as “gruff and punchy,” with “a lot to say.” Speaking with Pilzer, you quickly realize she herself is anything but gruff. But she does indeed have a lot to say. A member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, and DIVA (more on that later), Pilzer has toured extensively, and her arrangements enjoy regular play by college and professional jazz groups, including DC-area military jazz bands.

A DC native and longtime member of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC), Pilzer played cello as a kid, but that all changed in high school the first time she saw a big band. “I used to go hear live music with friends after orchestra rehearsals,” she recalls. “One day I met Bill Potts, a writer/pianist/arranger at a local community college. He played some jazz music for me—and then he took me to hear Count Basie.” Pilzer likens that to a line by Mario Puzo in The Godfather: “You can’t hide the thunderbolt. When it hits you, everybody can see it.” She suddenly knew she needed to play jazz. 

“As a cellist, the logical choice would have been bass. But I wanted a clean slate. So I chose the saxophone.” Pilzer started on an alto. After just six months, she had a Goldilocks moment when she got called for a gig at the same community college. “The baritone sax player couldn’t make the gig, so they handed me the big bari. And immediately I knew it was the right fit.”

She cemented that fit at the Berklee College of Music—along with other skills that would later be combined in her professional life. “I had gotten a great grounding in music theory and arranging from Bill Potts at the community college back home, so I studied arranging at Berklee,” she says. “But toward the end of my time there, I also realized I really did love playing and making music with other people.” Pilzer feels she’s fortunate to be from Washington, DC, which she says offers a large and varied amount of work. From the moment she graduated, she was playing clubs, corporate shows, and gigging with the National Symphony Orchestra on its pops concerts. 

At Berklee, Pilzer had tested out of the first two years of theory and advanced into upper-level arranging classes. Jump to today, where her arrangements have been widely adopted by big bands. Pilzer finished her doctorate in May of this year, and with live performances halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, she began wondering what was next. The obvious answer was a natural segue from arranging to composition. “My arranging has tended toward standard forms like the Great American Songbook and Ellington,” she says. “But I’m taking an online jazz composition course at Berklee and I’ve started looking at composing in a different way than I have before—freer, less tune- or form-based.” Big band, says Pilzer, is still the voice she hears in her head, but these days she can now also see herself writing for smaller groups. 

But still, there’s the nagging longing to make music—even in a pandemic. While she admits it doesn’t take the place of a live audience, she and a few DIVA colleagues have started using JamKazam, a nifty little piece of tech that allows for real-time interaction over the Internet. DIVA, for those unfamiliar, is an all-female jazz orchestra. Pilzer has been a permanent member on bari sax since 2003— “Well, I actually stalked them since 1992,” she laughs—and has also done orchestrations for them. “I love my male colleagues, but the hang with DIVA is a little different. And the young women we play for are inspired by DIVA in a way that other bands can’t. It has a tremendous impact on them.” And also, on the younger men, Pilzer points out, who might not realize that many women do this. 

“With JamKazam we streamed some material, including a three-movement suite,” she says. “It’s strange with no audience. But we banter between ourselves and interact, and we draw the (virtual) audience in. We invite listeners into our process and our experience. They feel the love.” Pilzer was recently approached about outdoor concerts, 45-minute sets at DC-area homes. Like so many others, she is cautious about restarting. “As a wind player, I can’t be masked. It’s hard to protect the people around me until we know a bit more about the risks.”

When live performance does resume, Pilzer knows the AFM will have her covered, as it always has in past. “I joined the union as soon as I finished college,” she recalls. “My first gig with the National Symphony was with Mel Torme. And playing Capitol Concerts and Memorial Day concerts with them have been extremely moving experiences. I would certainly not be doing any of this without union membership. When I think about it, many of my most memorable career highlights have been through the union.” 

For more on Leigh Pilzer, visit her website at www.leighpilzer.com. For info on the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, visit www.divajazz.com.

Tools of the Trade

Leigh Pilzer
Jon Barnes Photography

Leigh Pilzer uses:

Baritone: My main instrument is a late 1950s low A Selmer Mark VI with a hard rubber Berg Larsen 110/0 refaced by Brian Powell, with Select Jazz 3S reeds. Travel horn is a Yanagisawa B992, with same mouthpiece and reeds. I also have a mid 1960s low Bb Selmer Mark VI. Mouthpiece for that horn is either one of the Bergs or a hard rubber Vandoren V16, also refaced by Brian Powell.

Soprano: Yamaha 62 (1980s?),
Selmer S80 F or Super Session F, blue box Vandoren 2½ or 3 reeds.

Alto: Mid 1960s Selmer Mark VI, Vandoren medium chamber V16 5 or 6, blue box Vandoren 2 reeds.

Tenor: Late 1950s Selmer Mark VI, hard rubber Berg Larsen 120/0, blue box Vandoren 2½ reeds.

Bass: Late 1960s Selmer Mark VI, hard rubber French blank mouthpiece, orange box Rico 2½ or 3 reeds.

Favorite Apps: Finale and ForScore. These days, other regularly used software also includes Logic, Final Cut, and JamKazam, in combination with a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface and a Shure KSM32 mic.

In the Jazz Club and Classroom, Percussionist Nasar Abadey Inspires

Just after this photo was taken in 2010, Nasar Abadey of Local 161-710 embarked on a month-long Supernova tour to East Africa sponsored by the US State Department. (Photo credit: Jos A. Beasley.)

This month, Nasar Abadey, drummer, bandleader, and educator will receive the DC Jazz Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, alongside Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés.

Abadey, of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC), has played with masters of the jazz world, among them fellow DC union members Andrew White and Lennie Cuje. Abadey was tapped by Sun Ra in the early 1970s in New York City. “I was sitting in with McCoy Tyner’s band at a club called Slugs’ on the Lower East Side. When I left the bandstand, Sun Ra’s manager he asked if I was interested in playing with Sun Ra. I said, ‘Well, sure.’ He said, ‘Meet me at Penn Station tomorrow at noon.’”

Named Best Drummer in Jazz in 2011 by the Washington City Paper, Abadey went on to play with other greats, like Stanley Turrentine, David Sanchez, Charlie Rouse, Gary Bartz, Cyrus Chestnut, Gregory Porter, Frank Morgan, Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Jones, and Bobby Hutcherson.

Back in 1976, Abadey was playing gigs in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, when he got a call out of the blue to play with Ella Fitzgerald. Throughout his long career, he’s built a solid reputation as a sideman with many groups. He has recorded and performed with innovators Malachi Thompson and Joe Ford (saxophonist in Abadey’s group Supernova).

With Supernova, Abadey performs jazz steeped in hard bop, modal, and avant-garde, often incorporating traditional African rhythms, bebop, fusion, Afro-Cuban, and Afro-Brazilian influences. He is also founder and artistic director of the 16-piece band Washington Renaissance Orchestra (WRO).

For a time the family lived in Buffalo with his mother’s cousins, the Dunlops. Frankie Dunlop was the prodigious drummer who famously played with Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, among others. He says that Frankie practiced every day in the attic and became one of his main influences. Abadey was just six years old when Frankie put a set of sticks in his hands and showed him how to start playing.

“I didn’t know who he was. He left Buffalo when I was seven years old and I didn’t see him again until I was 13. I had a transistor radio and I heard the song ‘Monk’s Dream’ on a jazz program and I said, ‘Wow, the drummer sounds like my cousin Frankie.’ When they announced the group members, the drummer was Frankie. I remembered his sound.” They reconnected when Abadey moved to New York City. He’d often visit Dunlop in his Harlem home where Dunlop would tell him stories about his years playing with jazz legends. 

Abadey who has lived in Washington, DC, since 1977, embarked on his own career in jazz that placed him in a class all his own. Drawing on influences from powerhouse drummers such as Tony Williams, Max Roach, Roy Haynes, and Elvin Jones, he built a solid career as an artist and teacher. Now, he is one of the mid-Atlantic region’s premier jazz drummers.

In 2006, Abadey was asked to join the faculty of the Peabody Institute. “The process of education has been an organic kind of thing. Each semester, each year, I find myself incorporating more into what I teach and how I teach. As a result, I become a better musician and drummer,” he says.

“I like to think of music as going in many directions simultaneously—poly-directional.” Which he calls “multi-D”: multi-dimensional and multi-directional, a term that is also easy to pronounce and remember in any language. “It helps the listener understand that they are experiencing various dimensional realms while listening to music. I like to think the music is more complex than traditional forms of jazz.”

Abadey invokes plenty of John Coltrane’s automatic technique, which he says allows the music to lift off into a spiritual zone. “The unknown can always render something new because it is the unknown. How your spirit interacts with the creative endeavor,” he says.

He encourages his students to go to his gigs to hear him play so they know that what he’s teaching is not abstract. He adds, “It’s also important to articulate the source of a particular rhythm when I play it and understand it when I hear it played. I look at Africa as the source and different rhythms from Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico.”

Throughout his career, the union, which he joined at 18, has provided support. He says, “With the union, you’re associated with an organization that has what every musician needs to indulge their art and the backing to make sure we’re getting proper wages, benefits, and pension. When you get gigs, you will not be paid below a certain amount. All those things are in place. Plus, you have legal representation.”

In addition to Supernova and the Washington Renaissance Orchestra, Abadey leads the Renaissance Trio (rhythm section) and the Washington Renaissance Orchestra Octet. In between gigs this summer, he is working on a project writing for strings for his 11-piece Supernova Chamber Orchestra.

AFM Members Join in Working People’s Day of Action

Working People’s Day of Action was about demanding an end to the rigged economy and defending our freedoms. On February 24, working people across the country came together to defend our freedoms and fight for decent and equitable pay for our work, affordable health care, quality schools, vibrant communities, and a secure future for all.

Working People’s Day of Action was planned to take place in advance of the February 26 US Supreme Court hearings in Janus vs. AFSCME. The anti-union forces behind this case simply do not believe that working people should be afforded the same freedoms and opportunities as they are.

The day also recalls when Dr. Martin Luther King came to the aid of Memphis sanitation workers in February 1968. They were protesting discrimination, low pay, and inhumane conditions that had led to the gruesome death of two workers on the job. On February 12, the sanitation workers went on strike to demand that their dignity, their humanity, and their union be recognized. On February 21, the strikers began to march every day, carrying signs that boldly proclaimed, “I AM A MAN.”

This year, on February 24, working people and their allies joined together to demand an end to an economy that’s rigged against working people and defend the freedoms that Dr. King fought and died for. As Dr. King told the sanitation workers in Memphis, “Freedom is not something that is voluntarily given by the oppressor. It is something that must be demanded by the oppressed.”

AFM members across the country joined demonstrations with their union brothers and sisters to stand up for the right to unionize. Among them, Local 655 (Miami, FL) President Charles “Chas” Reskin, Secretary-Treasurer Jeffrey Apana, and other musicians attended a rally at Bayfront Park in Miami. Among representatives of Local 802 at the New York City rally were Maria DiPasquale and CLC delegate Marvin Moschel. In Washington, DC, demonstrators, including Local 161-710 Executive Board Director Doug Rosenthal, gathered at Freedom Plaza. Local 4 (Cleveland, OH) chartered a bus and filled it with musician members to participate in a Columbus rally.

“Under current law, every public service worker may choose whether or not to join the union—but the union is required to negotiate on behalf of all workers, whether they join or not. Since all the workers benefit from the union’s gains, it’s only fair that everyone chip in toward the cost. That’s why 40 years ago a unanimous Supreme Court approved the kind of cost-sharing arrangements known as ‘fair share.’ The Janus v. AFSCME case is an effort to outlaw this fair share procedure,” explains Local 4 President Leonard DiCosimo.

Representatives of Cleveland Jobs with Justice and the North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor joined Local 4 on their bus. “Though the Janus case deals with public employees,” DiCosimo says, “it is still relevant to the primarily private-sector employees of the AFM. Our presumption is that, if the ruling is in favor of Janus, there will be a movement to get a case before the Supreme Court that is basically the same dynamic for private-sector unions.”


Nurit Bar-Josef: Behind the Scenes with the National Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster

Nurit-Bar-JosefWhen Nurit Bar-Josef of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) was selected as concertmaster for National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) at age 26, she was the youngest concertmaster ever appointed to a major symphony orchestra. More than 16 years later, she recalls initial surprise on finding out she’d won the spot.

“I knew some of the others who had auditioned—it’s a small world—and I thought they might think I was too young or too inexperienced,” she says.

The young musician was aware of the huge responsibility she had accepted. “I knew what to expect from my previous experiences in St. Louis and Boston, where I saw just how much the concertmaster has to deal with on a daily basis,” she says. Bar-Josef was assistant concertmaster for Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops when she auditioned with NSO.

Leading from First Chair

“It’s constant pressure; when you are sitting in that chair, you are expected to always be on—it’s 120%, all the time. I feel like I represent the orchestra and there are times when the whole orchestra is looking to me for guidance,” she says. “That’s the biggest challenge; no matter what is going on at home, or what’s going on around you, or on the podium, you are out there for your colleagues.”

Meticulous preparation is key, she says. “Knowing the score well, in and out, and knowing everything that’s going on. You have to have that first violin part down like no one else,” she says. “And because you are number one, you have to always play the solos and play them well. I try to do my best every single time.”

“It’s a good lesson in time management because there is so much music coming out, week after week,” says Bar-Josef. “It forces me to prioritize and manage my practice, even when I have limited time. I have to figure out what I need to do now and what can wait.”

Above all, she has a passion and dedication to the current repertoire, whatever it may be. “Every week, whatever we are playing, I throw myself into it. That’s what we live and breathe for that week. Oftentimes, I feel like we are actors given a role to play,” says Bar-Josef. “If we play a Shostakovich symphony, he becomes my favorite composer that week. If we are playing Brahms, I am all about Brahms, emotionally and physically.”

For pleasure, she says, “I always, always enjoy playing a Beethoven symphony or even a Beethoven violin sonata. I wouldn’t say that he’s my favorite composer, but I would say anytime I’m playing Beethoven I’m musically and technically fulfilled,” she says.

Like all principal string players, Bar-Josef spends time marking bowings. “The other principals are waiting to get my part in order to mark their bowings to match mine, and I’ve got the library waiting for all of that to happen. That’s added pressure,” she says. “Part of the process is making sure my colleagues have the music well enough in advance to feel comfortable.”

A Conductor’s Liaison

Nurit Bar-JosefBar-Josef has the honor of meeting guest conductors and acts as a liaison to the rest of the players. She ensures a smooth working relationship between members of the orchestra and the conductor. This, she says, “is an incredibly rewarding responsibility.”

“I learn a lot from working with conductors,” she says, explaining that many of them request a one-on-one meeting before the concert, especially if she will perform a solo. “Every musician who comes to visit is different. It’s really important to me that I represent the orchestra well. No matter what is going on, I try to connect with the person on the podium.”

“Conductors travel the world and they conduct all different orchestras, from the top notch to smaller groups in smaller towns,” she continues. “I want them to feel like the NSO is an all-around good experience. As concertmaster, I am part of that—making that connection with the person. It’s a short period of time and it can be really intense for those few days.”

Though Bar-Josef relishes the challenge of these responsibilities, she admits her role can be isolating, sometimes setting her apart from her colleagues. The time requirements mean she has less time for socializing, particularly when they are out on tour. “When we go on tour, I’m constantly thinking about what we are playing tomorrow, what we are playing tonight, and how much time I have to prepare. I don’t have a whole lot of time to hang out and have fun in some new city.”

Though she is passionate about playing solos, Bar-Josef admits, “It’s one of the hardest things I do. It’s very rewarding that I get to play amazing solos like Scheherazade, though it’s stressful. There’s a lot of pressure playing solos with some of the greatest conductors standing one foot away from me.”

Bar-Josef is currently one of an estimated 25 women concertmasters in the US and Canada. While there have been some remarkable women in this leadership role over the years—for example, Cecylia Arzewski (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 1990-2008) and Emmanuelle Boisvert (Detroit Symphony Orchestra for 23 years)—their numbers are still far below the current ratio of women to men in orchestras. Bar-Josef feels like more women will likely take the leadership role in the future.

Of course, blind auditions help to ensure the best candidates, male or female are selected fairly. And fortunately today, unlike just a couple decades ago, female orchestra musicians enjoy equal treatment. “I have never felt that anyone looked at me as a female or thought they’d rather have a man in my position; I never once felt that a guest conductor was disappointed by having a female concertmaster,” says Bar-Josef. “Today, I feel it’s all about the music and what type of musician you are—gender doesn’t matter.”

The Joy of Chamber Music

nurit-bar When Bar-Josef has a chance, she looks forward to performing in smaller chamber groups. “I always love playing chamber music,” she says. “I enjoy the camaraderie and the intimacy of it—sitting in a group close together, having my sound blend with theirs and not having to worry about leading a section. I can be much more free in a chamber group.”

A founding member of Kennedy Center Chamber Players, she performed with them for nine years. “It’s basically a core group that started out as the principals of the National Symphony—Principal Viola Daniel Foster, Principal Cello David Hardy, and Principal Keyboard Lambert Orkis. We would ask other people from the orchestra, both titled and nontitled players, to join us for four chamber music concerts a year at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.”

The other group she’s been involved with for a long time, the Dryden String Quartet, came together less formally about 16 years ago. “When I first moved to DC, I didn’t have any family here. I had to play over Thanksgiving so I was stuck in town,” she recalls. “Daniel Foster asked me if I wanted to go to his family’s house for Thanksgiving and he said, ‘Bring your violin, we might do some sight reading.’ He’s cousins with [Time for Three] violinist Nicholas Kendall and [Philadelphia Orchestra Assistant Principal Cello] Yumi Kendall. It ended up being a pretty good group.”

The group named itself after John Dryden Kendall, grandfather to Foster and the Kendalls,  who brought the Suzuki method to the US. “The first concert we played was at an embassy event in honor of their grandfather,” says Bar-Josef. “Unfortunately, everybody is just so busy in their own lives it’s difficult to find time. We try to get together at least once a year, sometimes twice if we are lucky.”

Every now and then Bar-Josef finds time to perform in other chamber groups. “I like to do outreach with different NSO players and Millennium Stage performances at the Kennedy Center, house concerts, or whatever pops up,” she says.

She has performed at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Bay Chamber Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and festivals in Tanglewood, Portland (Maine), Kingston (Rhode Island), Steamboat Springs, Garth Newel, and Caramoor, where she performed piano quartets with André Previn at his Rising Stars Festival.

This season Bar-Josef looks forward to working with incoming NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda. “I am excited that we have so many great programs coming up with him,” she says. In particular, she looks forward to playing Chausson’s Poème in November. “It’s just such an honor and a privilege. I’ve always wanted to perform that piece and what better opportunity than with the NSO and Noseda conducting.”

Nurit Bar-Josef currently performs on the G.B. Guadagnini, 1773, the “ex-Grumiaux, ex-Silverstein” violin.

Local 161-710: It’s Not Just About the Funds, Create a Culture of Advocacy


Local 161-710 TEMPO Signature Members (L to R) Board Member Doug Rosenthal, Vice President Patty Hurd, Board Member Ann Ament, Secretary-Treasurer Marta Bradley, Leslie Silverfine, and President Ed Malaga.

In 2014, the AFM Office of Government Relations helped double the AFM TEMPO bottom line. Measures such as a new TEMPO compliance manual for locals and a TEMPO Signature Program yielded added income. Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) raised the most money in TEMPO contributions, and has the highest number of Signature members.

“The membership of Local 161-710 boasts so much intellect and activism, I believe the biggest source of success is the long-standing culture of advocacy and awareness here,” says Douglas Rosenthal who is Local 161-710 TEMPO Coordinator, as well as a member of the local’s executive board.

As TEMPO coordinator, he promotes TEMPO in his local and to fellow musicians at the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, where he plays trombone. However, he says, “I’m not sure these things had much to do with our turnout. The members here are already so committed.”

AFM members that he’s come into contact with conclude that TEMPO is the best PAC to advocate on behalf of musicians. “The TEMPO program provides the opportunity for our elected representatives to hear directly from AFM musicians on issues important to them,” says Local 161-710 President Edgardo Malaga. “It certainly is a goal of our local’s administration to provide increased visibility for AFM issues on Capitol Hill. The support here for that effort is very broad-based, not only with orchestra musicians, but also club musicians in the area.”

It doesn’t seem surprising that the local closest to the nation’s capital would be the most politically active, however, Rosenthal believes that the local’s commitment to TEMPO is more a result of the musicians themselves. “Politics are certainly in the air here, but I’m not sure it’s our proximity to the Federal government that gives us an edge; our membership is saturated with brilliant minds and effective advocates. Together, we would be equally successful anywhere else,” he says.

Key to a successful campaign, according to Rosenthal, is to not just ask for annual donations, but for TEMPO coordinators to create a culture of political advocacy in their locals. “Make TEMPO part of a broader picture of advocacy and activism,” he advises.

“Aside from TEMPO contributions, our local’s members are proud to lend a presence to AFM efforts on Capitol Hill for things such as performance rights, NEA funding, the African ivory elephant issue, and musical instruments as carry-on baggage,” says Malaga.