Tag Archives: Local 47

Pedro Eustache

Multicultural Musician Finds Transcendence Through Music

Every musician has at least one seminal moment in their life that defines their artistic career. Flutist and world woodwind player Pedro Eustache has several: the influence of his older brother, his experience as a founding member of Venezuela’s “El Sistema” OSSB Orchestra, and the death of his daughter. The first instilled in him his love of music and creativity; the second gave him the burning desire to learn and express music in different languages, while the third taught him perseverance and the need to make the most of every moment.

But above all of these, is Eustache’s love of God. “I am just a follower of Christ—everything is inspired, allowed, and nurtured by the grace of the Creator,” he says. He sees music as his calling: “What I do is a consequence of who I am—it’s a blessing to exercise that which I was created for.”

Eustache, a member of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) for the past 28 years, seems to have been created for quite a lot. He has years of education and professional experience in classical, jazz, world music, popular, and computer/electronic music genres. As a flutist, he is equally comfortable doing solo-recital, symphonic, jazz, pop, Latin, world-music, and contemporary/avant-garde work, and can transition from one to the other with effortless flexibility and stylistic appropriateness. His musical knowledge and technical command go beyond flute into reeds (saxophones and bass clarinet), nearly 600 world-music woodwinds from all six continents, and wind synthesis (both analog and digital, as a programmer and performer). He is also a researcher, composer, lecturer, and instrument maker.

Perhaps a phrase that best describes Eustache is musical polyglot. “At the DNA level, I am multicultural,” he says. “I believe I inherit the blessings of my ancestors.”

Eustache was born to Haitian parents—one white, one Black—and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, which he calls a “true melting pot” of cultures that influenced him greatly. He started listening to “great music” by age three, when his older brother, Michel Eustache (now an educator, musician, composer, and choir director in Chile), exposed him to his record collection of 3,000 LPs. “That’s something that impacts your soul at that age,” Eustache says. “He exposed me to so much. I owe him a lot. To this day I, am reaping the benefit of what he planted in me as a kid.”

Eustache started playing recorder at age 9— “exactly the same age when I decided to accept God’s gift in my life, so my spiritual walk and my musical endeavors are completely connected.” His first professional recording in a studio was at age 12. By age 14, he was playing violin, but “hated” it, so he gave it up. His brother, however, saw promise in Pedro’s talent, and would not let him quit music. Pedro wanted to follow his brother’s footsteps by playing flute, but the instrument did not really speak to him because it was more classical and he, as a teenager, was into rock. But then he heard the flute solo in the King Crimson song, “I talk to the wind,” in the early 1970s, and he realized he could play his brother’s instrument but also play rock n roll. “And I said, ‘Wow! … I want to do this.’ And that’s how I got into the flute.”

Eustache entered El Sistema, Venezuela’s National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs that uses music education as a vehicle for social change, and ultimately became the first piccolo in the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra (Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar). After graduating from El Sistema, Eustache received a scholarship from the Venezuelan government to study music in conservatories in France and Switzerland, where he studied under master flutists Raymond Guiot, Alain Marion, Pierre-Yves Artaud, and Aurèle Nicolet. His years abroad also exposed him to musical styles beyond Western classical and into African, Indian, Arabic, and Japanese. “This was like an explosion in my heart, and that made me want to express myself in other languages,” he says.

After completing his studies in Europe, Eustache returned to Venezuela and became the principal solo flute in the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and taught at the conservatory. He also began attending traditional Venezuelan percussion workshops and learned Afro-Venezuelan drums. He ultimately realized he wanted to expand his musicality, so he quit the orchestra and got a scholarship to attend the California Institute for the Arts, where he earned an MFA in jazz in 1991.

Eustache joined the AFM in 1992 at the suggestion of his colleagues. “For me, it has been literally a blessing for many things … it is an amazing blessing to have all the bonuses that we have, from the special payments to retirement,” he says. “If I were not, for example, a union member, I would not have been able to record with John Williams, as pragmatic as that. In LA, it’s a great blessing if you want to be a studio musician and be in the union. … every year when I get the special payments I go to my knees and I thank God for that.”

For Eustache, there is great pride in his union membership because it gives him validation. “As a professional, that for me is important, especially coming from another country,” he says. “When I joined in ’92 I felt like, ‘Oh man I’m legit, I’m official.’ It’s psychological, and it’s powerful.”

Just when Eustache arrived in the US, he and his wife suffered a tragedy when they lost their three-year-old daughter to brain cancer. “It’s one of those things that proved to me that my reality, my spiritual experience, was not just a figment of my imagination. I can tell anybody that God is real. I survived that. … I would not be alive if not for the grace of the reality of the power of the love of God,” he says.

After that tragedy, Eustache determined never to waste a minute of his life, and he emerged from that loss with a “laser-beam focus” to improve his music and his musical ability. But still, seven years later, although playing with various orchestras, traveling the world, he was still a struggling, financially poor musician. He and his wife lived in a trailer that had no air conditioning, among other hardships, and, he says, he wanted to give up—but his wife would not let him. “She said, God made you a musician, you’re going to make it.” A few months later, he received a call saying that world-renowned composer and keyboardist Yanni was looking for a flute player—and was interested in Eustache to fill the position. “That opened all the doors, for the studios, for everything,” Eustache says.

That was in 1995. Since then, Eustache has blazed an indefatigable musical trail across the world. For 11 years he was the featured winds soloist in Yanni’s band and has toured the globe playing solo flute with some of the world’s most renowned orchestras. He has collaborated with musicians such as Sir Paul McCartney, Don Henley (of Local 72-147, Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX), Armenian composer/keyboardist Ara Gevorgyan, and Indian luminary Anoushka Shankar. Eustache was the featured winds soloist on Ramin Djawadi’s/HBO’s “Game of Thrones – Live Music Experience” international tour and the featured winds soloist in “Hans Zimmer Live” world tour from 2017-19 (Hans Zimmer is also a member of Local 47), and a featured performer on Gustavo Dudamel’s “Libertador” orchestral suite, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. As a studio musician, Eustache has provided solo woodwind for video games and countless feature films.

While constantly performing, Eustache also never stops learning. He has studied the music and woodwind instruments from countries and cultures around the world, including:

  • Hindustani classical music and bansuri (North Indian bamboo flute) with Ravi Shankar.
  • Shehnai (North Indian double-reed conical oboe).
  • Armenian duduk (double reed woodwind instrument made of apricot wood).
  • Persian Ney (end-blown flute).
  • Arabic classical music and Arabic Ney.
  • Australian didgeridoo (wind instrument played with continuously vibrating lips to produce a continuous drone while using a special breathing technique called circular breathing).
  • Japanese Shakuhachi (longitudinal, end-blown flute made of bamboo).
  • Tunisian Mezoued (bagpipe made out of goat skin).
  • Middle Eastern Kawala (oblique folk shepherds’ flute).

In addition to playing hundreds of types of woodwind instruments, Eustache also collects them. His collection contains over 600 instruments, including more than 100 that he made or modified himself.

The secret to Eustache’s list of achievements, he says, is simply that he is a workaholic. “Constantly with me is the humility to know where I came from, and knowing how much I still have to learn,” he says.

While the coronavirus pandemic has stopped all travel and touring, Eustache has been busy practicing, playing, teaching, recording, researching, studying, and writing. He is currently at work on a book on how to compose cadenzas in the style of Mozart. Eustache is also studying musical phenomenology, which is, he explains, “going beyond the notes, beyond the sound, through the reality of living the right ways to exercise my craft so that it becomes an art.”

“Music is transcending through sound,” he says. “Sound, under certain circumstances, can become sonic art, thus becoming
a vehicle into transcendence.”


Pedro Eustache endorses an extensive and varied list of instruments and gear:

Guo Flutes—Grenadite concert “C” flute, Grenaditte soprano flute in “G”

RS Berkeley — Sopranino, and gold-plated Virtuoso Tenor Saxophones, Volare VOL 905 silver concert “C” flute

Beechler—Diamond M7S Alto sax mouthpiece

Make Music—Finale music notation program

Hall Crystal Flutes—Flutes and didgeridoo

lefreQue—Woodwinds tone improvement plates

Nuvo Instrumental—Novel wind instruments for children

InEar—ProPhile-8 monitoring system

Point Source Audio—Microphones


WMD—Synchrodyne and Synchrodyne Expand

AODYO—SYLPHYO midi Wind controller

Nurwind—Duduk reeds

David O’Brien—Lyricon analog electronic wind synthesizer

PiezoBarrel—‘Sol’ pickups

Rampone e Cazzani—Saxophones

Rovner—Saxophone mouthpieces and ligatures

Erica Synths—Fusion-series Vacuum Tube-based analog synthesizer mini-Eurorack system

Genki Instruments—Wave MIDI controllers and Wavefront Eurorack analog modules

Elby Synths—2ble Pulser Eurorack module

4ms—Powered Pods

SE Electronics—Microphones

Imoxplus—Respiro Wind Synth

Bard Electronics

Club of the Knobs—Modular Synths


Ableton Live—music software

Mayuto Correa: Multi-Instrumental Renaissance Man

Mayuto Correa isn’t much for labels and never lets tradition stop him from exploring new interests. This is true in the Latin Jazz-influenced music he plays—he is equally respected as both a guitar player and a percussionist, pushing genre boundaries with both—but also in the rest of life. Beyond music, Correa is or has been a professional soccer player, an actor in stage, film, and television productions, a composer, a philanthropist, a behaviorist, a PhD candidate in psychology, an author, and a dancer—and he shows no signs of slowing down. Correa is also a proud union man, having joined Local 47 in Los Angeles within days of his permanent arrival in the United States from Brazil (via Mexico) in 1969. 

Correa made a name for himself in several of his endeavors before he even reached adulthood. He got his start on the Brazilian national youth football (soccer) team at age 8, joined his first big band at age 12, began writing for a city newspaper at age 16, and began teaching at a major university as a behavioral science professor at age 20, among other notable and prodigious achievements. By his early 20s, he was the musical director for both well-known Brazilian bossa nova singer/songwriter Maria Bethânia and samba legend Elza Soares, as well as the artistic director for multiple television shows. 

In 1964, the CIA-backed military coup of Brazil brought most of Correa’s artistic and academic aspirations to a halt. The right-wing government actively persecuted professors, writers, and artists, and Correa was all three. The generals who ruled the country imprisoned many of Correa’s fellow musicians, including the well-known Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, and tortured and even killed many of those deemed “dissidents.” As an outspoken anti-racism and anti-poverty activist whose written work (journalistic, theatrical, and musical) actively addressed inequality, Correa recognized that he was no friend of the regime and eventually, for his own safety and that of his family, he left the country. 

The appeal of the US over Europe came largely from his childhood love of Westerns, but it didn’t hurt that he had lots of friends playing Brazilian and Brazilian-influenced music in Los Angeles. After a stop-over in Mexico to get immigration issues worked out, he landed in LA in 1969, and, just a few days later, entered the old Local 47 building on Vine Street, where he got his AFM card. He quickly befriended Max Herman, a jazz trumpet player and longtime president of Local 47, and credits Herman and his staff for a warm welcome to the city and the industry there. Correa’s versatility, skill, creativity, and easy-going personality continue to make him an in-demand studio musician even now, but he credits his early connection with his local for helping him make a running start into what would become an illustrious career. 

Though Correa’s own recordings and compositions lean heavily into a borderless take on Latin Jazz, he has added his unique Brazilian inflection to recordings and live shows behind a who’s who of musical talent from across musical styles and eras: Frank Sinatra, Henry Mancini, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, John Prine, Santana, Gato Barbieri, Burt Bacharach, and dozens more. 

Correa is proud to have been an AFM member throughout his still-vibrant career, and credits the union with not only retrieving unpaid wages more than once, but for simply being strong enough as an organization so that all he had to do was threaten to call them for help—and a check would appear, as if by magic. As a mentor to many young musicians, Correa finds some confusion and resistance to joining the union among the newer generation of up-and-comers. “They just don’t know better,” he explains, and takes it upon himself to ebulliently promote membership. He sees the union as an essential source of work and professional connections for those in the early stages of their career, as a source of assistance with bureaucratic processes, and even simply a place to make friends.

Though you’d never know it unless you had his biography in front of you, Correa is a senior citizen and thus has taken the highest level of caution during the COVID pandemic. This has meant staying home except for essential tasks and thus turning down session work and live performances. He’s spent his time composing and writing screenplays, as well as making soft plans for a big US tour with some Brazilian musicians as soon as a vaccination makes travel safe again. “I’m going to need to ask the union to approve all their visas right away,” he laughs, “because we need to hit the road from the first minute it’s safe!”


Mayuto Correa plays: 

Guitars: Giannini (exclusive)— favorite models are GWNCPP Handcrafted Cutaway and CDR-PRO Thin CEQ, set at 2mm 

Strings: Giannini Classico Tensão Super Extra Pesada

Congas: Resolution/Valje

LA Phil Returns to Stage Under COVID-19 Side Letter to IMA

On August 1, around 30 musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, members of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), returned to the outdoor stage of the Hollywood Bowl for the first time since the pandemic’s shutdowns, to rehearse for the capture of product to be released under the new COVID-19 side letter to the IMA. Even though the Hollywood Bowl remains closed, the services were able to take place under the Reopening Protocol for Music, Television and Film Production Agreement: Appendix J issued by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

According to a report in Senza Sordino, the ICSOM newsletter, the string players were masked and sitting at least six feet apart, while the wind players were 12 feet apart and surrounded by plexiglass. Under these rather unusual conditions, the orchestra performed a program that included Beethoven Symphony No. 7, with Gustavo Dudamel conducting.

Tango Del Cielo

Anna Maria Mendieta

Harpist Anna Maria Mendieta’s newest album, Tango Del Cielo, is a collection of Argentine tango and Spanish classical music. The album includes arrangements for harp and orchestra featuring works by Astor Piazzolla, Pablo Ziegler, and more. These orchestrations have been created by award-winning composers, including Jorge Calandrelli; pianist for Piazzolla, Pablo Ziegler; and Jeremy Cohen. The album was recorded at Skywalker Sound with Grammy Award-winning engineer Leslie Ann Jones.

Tango Del Cielo (Tango of Heaven) brings Mendieta’s technical prowess to the forefront. The album synthesizes years of advocacy and partnership between Mendieta and some of Piazzolla’s closest colleagues and artistic collaborators, thus presenting a groundbreaking new vision for both tango music and the harp repertoire.

Mendieta is a member of Local 6 (San Francisco, CA), Local 12 (Sacramento, CA), and Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA).

The LA Sessions at Capitol Studios

The Steve Spiegl Big Band

The latest album by The Steve Spiegl Big Band celebrates the band’s 50th year in existence as a staple of the LA rehearsal band scene. It was recorded by the some of the top LA studio musicians and jazz soloists.

Recorded over three days at Capitol Studios, The LA Sessions at Capitol Studios is the fourth album on Sorcerer Records by Spiegl’s big band. Besides original compositions by Spiegl, of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), there are big band jazz treatments of music by Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, G.F. Handel, and Richard Wagner set in the jazz idiom.

Spiegl’s prior albums have also featured big band jazz arrangements of music from Bach, Brahms, Elgar, and Scriabin; this CD continues his unique writing for large jazz ensemble played by some of LA’s best musicians.


Leland Sklar

Legendary Session Musician Embraces the ‘Brave New World’

With more than 2,600 albums under his belt as a session musician—as well as decades on tour with some of the biggest artists in the music industry and musical contributions to countless Hollywood films and major television shows—bassist Leland “Lee” Sklar has guided his career by a simple tenet: “Be cognizant of the song.”

“First and foremost, from my career standpoint, the song has always meant everything to me,” says Sklar, a 50-year member of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA). “It really emanates from the studio and listening to a song that’s presented to you, and really thinking about, ‘What does the song need?’ Not about, ‘How can I shine on this?’ ‘How can I impose myself on this?’ I think it’s imperative to let the song guide you into what you need to do on it.”

photo: Rob Shanahan

That belief has directed Sklar’s career from his early days with James Taylor to his legendary status as one of the most recorded and most sought-after bassists in the LA studio scene. And at age 73, Sklar is still going strong.

Sklar is renowned for his bass playing, but his musicianship actually started on piano—when, as a child, his parents loved watching the old Liberace television show. Sklar had an affinity for the keys, but once he got to junior high school, he found the school band had too many piano players. His teacher suggested he try the bass and pulled out a blonde upright out of the back room. “I plunked one note, felt that vibration, and man I was sold,” Sklar says. A few years later, another game-changing moment arrived when Sklar got an electric Melody bass and a St. George amp—and entered the electric world. “After that, I started joining bands left and right and sitting home and playing to records,” he says—an ironically prescient circumstance, given where his career went and where it is today in the world of a pandemic shutdown. But more on that later.

Sklar, like so many teenagers then and since, loved playing bass, but he never expected to find a career in music. In college at California State University, Northridge, he was an art/science major, expecting to go into medical or technical illustration. But then, during his fifth year of college, his life changed in one day, he says. “I met James Taylor. I got offered one gig, and that was in 1970. And basically, I’m still on that gig.”

Sklar’s first real studio experience, he says, was with Taylor, a member of Local 802 (New York City), for Taylor’s third studio album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. Since then, Sklar’s career moved ever upward. As part of the now-legendary studio ensemble called The Section (which included Local 47 members Russ Kunkel and Craig Doerge), Sklar’s playing has been heard on hits by artists such as Linda Ronstadt (Local 47), Randy Newman (Local 47), Dolly Parton (Local 257), Neil Diamond (Local 47), and George Strait (Local 433), to name only a few. Sklar has also done vast amounts of session work for television and film, playing on TV shows such as Hill Street Blues, Knight Rider, and Simon and Simon, and on movies such as Forrest Gump, Ghost, and Legally Blonde.

One of the reasons Sklar has been an active musician for 50 years and participated in so many albums and recordings is because he is a professional, and he treats his vocation that way. “The studio process is a profession. It may be called ‘playing,’ but it’s a profession that’s as serious as any profession out there,” he says. For example, he continues, if your downbeat is at 10 a.m. for a session, don’t pull into the parking lot at 10 a.m. Arrive early, get your gear tuned and in place, check out the charts and make sure there are no surprises and, if you need to, take an extra few minutes to wrap your head around the songs and be ready to play at 10 a.m. “That’s what you were called for,” he says. “My job is me, and I treat it as professionally as I can. When you finish a track and people are going to listen to the playback, don’t sit there and check your phone messages; go into the control room and listen. And if you hear things that could contribute to make it a better song, throw it out there. Don’t sit mute in the back of the room like wallpaper.”

Sklar says he’s got “a big mouth and a lot of attitudes,” and he is not afraid to put in the time and raise his voice to add extra things to a song to make it as good a record as it can be. “I think people came to depend on that [work ethic and attitude], and that is one of the reasons why, at the end of the day, I’ve been able to work for 50 years and I’ve done about 2,600 albums. The fact that I’m still working to me is one of the most amazing blessings. … I really appreciate it; I’ve worked hard for it—and I don’t take it for granted.”

Sklar also keeps working because he rarely says no to jobs—unless they are non-union. “You always have to realize that if you’re not going through the union, you’re not going to get the pension; you’re not going to get health and welfare; there’s a lot of things you sacrifice,” he says. “Sometimes people will contact me and say, ‘Can we just do it non-union?’ and I say, ‘Well, no, we can’t, actually.’ If we don’t go to the union, you’re not getting to walk away from the things that the union survives on.”

Sometimes, he says, he gets frustrated by the politics and the minutiae involved in the reality of any labor movement, and he would just like to hunker down and play music. But without the minutiae, he says, “you would have a hobby and not a profession.”

“I think the essence of what a union is really for is the protection of its members on many levels that they are not getting—you’re being protected from being ripped off,” he continues. “It’s a brotherhood and sisterhood of really gifted people that are trying to watch out for one another and work in the safest environment possible from exploitation.”

Sklar has played with countless musical brothers and sisters, both in studio and on the road. He is currently playing with his band The Immediate Family, comprising former members of the The Section. He says he prefers the road to the studio, mainly because you have a live audience. “That’s kind of life’s blood that really sustains my energy—to engage with an audience,” he says. “On the road I’m not one of those guys that sits back in the dressing room and only comes out for the show. I go out and I wander around and talk to people in the audience and make myself available just to sit and hang out with them because I’ve always found that to be really interesting.”

Of course, the coronavirus has changed every musician’s plans. Sklar said he had a year’s worth of gigs lined up for 2020—in the US, Japan, and Europe. And “in one fell swoop, I went from a full book to an empty book,” he says. The thing about being a musician in isolation, he continues, is that you can either roll over and give up or dig in and figure out what you can do to keep going. So, despite his age and the fact that he can authentically talk about the “good old days” of analog when albums were made in a professional studio, had A and B sides, concepts, cover art, a mastering process, etc., Sklar has become an exceptional example of creating an engaging—and paying—online presence as a musician.

He is online every day talking to and playing for his 129,000 YouTube subscribers, 85,000 Facebook followers, and numerous
Flatfiv.co digital clubhouse members (who pay money to join). His digital gig started because of the coronavirus quarantine, when he decided to film himself playing along with songs he has recorded over the years and show viewers how he played his bass parts. That expanded to live chatting with fans, telling stories about making albums, being on the road, and just general life as a working musician—and it jived perfectly with his long-held joy of hanging out with fans, which all of this web-based interaction allows.

“It’s become a serious focus for me … it’s something I look forward to and I love that it’s taken on its own life,” he says. “I’ve found it to be really cathartic, on both sides of the aisle. People that are writing to me are talking about how this has become a kind of oasis in their daily lives. They try to avoid the news, and people send me pictures of their family eating dinner watching my videos on TV. And for me it gives me a focus every day.” He sees this as a long-term interactive experience between himself and his fans, and he has no intention of stopping. “If this curtain of COVID suddenly lifts, if there’s a vaccine and we can feel safe … and I get to go back out and hit the road again and hit the studio again, I’m taking my channel with me,” he says. “This has really become to me as viable as any recording session or concert I’ve ever done, and I want to maintain it as such. It’s a Brave New World we’re in right now.”


Lee Sklar has an array of equipment he uses as a working musician, including:

  • Two signature basses: a Dingwall 5-string signature and a Warwick chambered signature based on the Starbass II.
  • He still has his trusty ‘Frankenstein’ bass, built for him by John Carruthers in 1973. It is on all of the recordings he has done over the years.
  • Euphonic Audio amps and speakers.
  • GHS strings (most of the time).
flute concerto cover

Flute Concerto (for Flute and Wind Ensemble)

flute concerto cover

The “Flute Concerto,” by Peter Senchuk, of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), is in a standard three-movement form, with the first and third movements acting as fast, virtuosic bookends to the much gentler and more lyrical second movement. The work was commissioned as a gift for musician Pam Youngblood, of Texas Women’s University, and, according to Senchuk, incorporates the “jazz and modal inspired harmonies, rhythmic syncopation, and playful elements” that Youngblood enjoys about Senchuk’s work.

Flute Concerto (for Flute and Wind Ensemble), by Peter Senchuk, Forest Glade Music Publishing, www.forestglademusic.com.

Local 47 Celebrates Grand Opening


With construction on phase 1 of the new Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) Burbank headquarters complete, around 300 musicians, dignitaries, and friends turned up on May 21 to celebrate. The evening began with a rousing drumline of students from the Burbank Unified High School Marching Band. Everyone gathered in a giant tent set up in the building’s parking lot. AFM Local 47 President John Acosta and Vice President Rick Baptist acted as masters of ceremony for the evening filled with good wishes and excellent music.

“As we begin a new chapter here in Burbank, we will continue to advocate for professional musicians,” says Acosta. “Whether it be for film and television tax incentives to bring jobs back to the state of California, to advocate for more funding for our orchestras through the National Endowment for the Arts, or for fair pay for musicians performing in nightclubs, Local 47 will continue to be the voice of the professional musician in our new home for many, many years to come.”

Among the invited dignitaries who spoke at the opening were AFM Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal; Burbank Chamber of Commerce President Gema Sanchez; Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy; Jason Maruca from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger; Pamela Marcello, district representative for Congressman Adam Schiff; Victoria Dochoghlian, field representative for Assemblymember Laura Friedman; and Arda Tchakian, district representative for Senator Anthony J. Portantino. Serena Kay Williams, secretary-treasurer emeritus, shared memories of joining Local 47 in downtown Los Angeles and attending the 1950 grand opening of its previous Vine Street location.

Guests were entertained by a quartet made up of Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians, as well as the Mike Barone Big Band, featuring special guest soloist Rickey Woodard on tenor sax, all of them Local 47 members. Each received a commemorative grand opening program book.

Guests were invited on guided tours of the 25,000-square-foot facility, which included the Local 47 financial offices, state-of-the-art rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, and an artists’ lounge. Phase 2 construction will include a multi-purpose space, which will serve as an auditorium and meeting hall.

Christina Linhardt

The Beauty of Variety: Christina Linhardt Covers the Artistic Gamut

Christina Linhardt

Christina Linhardt of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) works with a nonprofit arts therapy organization, Imagination Workshop (photo credit: Anthony Verebes)

Christina Linhardt of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) is a musical chameleon. Her talent spans classical music, high opera, folk dance, cabaret, and when called for, the occasional circus performance. Her artistic upbringing meant traveling the world, spending summers in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, among artists and musicians, notably the Arnold Schoenberg family.

In Berlin, she attended the Goethe Institute, later studying French at the Eurocentre in Paris, and acting at Oxford University. Back in the States, Linhardt graduated in music and vocal arts from the University of Southern California.

A recurring role for Linhardt is that of chanteuse. Her “Classics to Cabaret” act is a favorite both here and abroad. In Germany, it headlined the opening of the Grand Concert Hall Parksalle in Dippoldiswalde and the reopening of the Palace Ligner in Dresden. Linhardt adds, “I have done it in Germany with the Berliner accent and included songs made popular by Marlene Dietrich.” 

Linhardt has a gift for innovative art forms. She had exposure to diverse traditions early on—for instance, attending cabarets in Vienna—and says, “I was influenced by the authors, writers, and artists I lived amongst as a child in Europe.” Her dramatic interpretation of new and avant-garde music is often accompanied by professional acrobats and clowns. She has successfully parlayed opera, theater, and contemporary rhythms into her CDs Circus Sanctuary and Voodoo Princess, which were both recorded under union contracts.

With fellow Local 47 members Susan Craig Winsberg and Carolyn Sykes she established the Celtic Consort of Hollywood and with Carol Tatum of Local 47 and Cathy Biagini she performs with Angels of Venice—“a classical trio with a new age twist,” says Linhardt, who is also a featured soprano on their CDs. In addition to vocals, she plays flute. “We do a lot of Medieval and Renaissance music: harp, voice, mandolin, cello. It has variety.” With longtime accompanist and pianist Bryan Pezzone of Local 47, this summer Linhardt is planning local concerts and another recording, also in a Celtic-Renaissance vein.

Linhardt points out that she’s relied on the benefits of the union throughout her career. “Early on, I was a music contractor for a score contracted through Local 47. They gave me legal advice when I was producing albums and doing radio promotion—what to do and how to not get scammed.”

As a soloist, Linhardt has performed classical arias and premiered new opera pieces—many written exclusively for her—in Los Angeles and throughout Germany. She is the official national anthem singer for the German Consulate and represents Berlin every year at the Los Angeles Sister Cities Festival.

Her clown and mime training landed her a part in the Vamphear Circus in 2006, when the troupe traveled to the naval base on Guantanamo Bay. “A friend of mine said he was going to Guantanamo Bay for a gig,” She remembers saying, “You’ve got to get me on that circus gig.’”

Known primarily for the notorious detention camp, the sequestered region is also home to US military personnel and service workers.  Linhardt says, “At the time, there were about 2,000 children on Guantanamo Bay. It was very 1950s. People said it was a great place to raise your kids. It was a Twilight Zone set—almost surreal.”

The subsequent documentary Guantanamo Circus, by Linhardt and fellow performer Michael Rose, won the Hollywood FAME Award for Best Documentary.

Off stage, Linhardt works for the Imagination Workshop (IW), a nonprofit theater arts organization that uses music and art as therapy for senior citizens, those with Alzheimer’s disease, at-risk youth, and homeless veterans, among others.

Linhardt says, “Music is an effective tool, especially, with Alzheimer’s patients, who cannot engage in the same way,” she says. “I’ll have people who can’t speak, except through the words of the music. After a session, sometimes we can get a few words out of them because they just sang the song. Music activates different parts of the brain and that’s why music can still be remembered when all other memory is gone.”         

For the past 16 years, she has been working with veterans with PTSD. “As the veterans are highly functional, we take the program to the next level, like a play written by and starring the participants. A lot of vets say, ‘For once, we don’t have to be our addiction; we don’t have to be our PTSD; we don’t have to be our past. We can try to be somebody else.’ It’s a new opportunity,” Linhardt says.

Recently, she has taken on yet another role, that of staff writer for the California Philharmonic, where she writes a Meet the Musician series. “Classical musicians are trained to be soloists, to be super stars,” Linhardt says, “I wanted to give each musician a moment in the limelight.”

Jeff lorber

Pianist Jeff Lorber: A Career Built from Coast to Coast

Jeff lorber

Jeff Lorber of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA).

Pianist Jeff Lorber of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) says he felt like he had access to the world stage growing up in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. He saw the genesis of rock and roll up close. Local record label Cameo Parkway put out a string of hits with Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, and The Orlons. Plus, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand premiered there in 1950. The city offered more inspiration in the way of homegrown jazz talent—Jimmy Heath, McCoy Tyner, and the Brecker Brothers. During the same period, John Coltrane famously lived there.

As a teenager, Lorber played with local R&B bands. At Berklee College of Music in the 1970s, his tastes veered toward jazz and fusion. “I knew if I was going to be an instrumentalist, I’d have to get better at jazz. It was a way to get vocabulary and to become better as a musician,” he says. “Berklee aligned curriculum to the local scene that allowed students to go out and make a living in the music business. It gave us tools to analyze music—taking it apart and putting it back together to understand it—and make our own music.”

In many ways, the Jazz Workshop at Berklee was almost as valuable as taking courses. He says, “Every week there would be somebody absolutely great playing: [Local 802 members] George Benson, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson. I saw Miles Davis play a number of times during that era.” Lorber followed Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report, as well as R&B acts like The Crusaders, and Grover Washington, Jr.

But it was Herbie Hancock’s Fat Albert Rotunda album that most inspired him. He remembers thinking it was revolutionary, “Wow, that’s what I want to do. I want to play funky jazz like that.”

Lorber moved to Portland, Oregon, where he formed The Jeff Lorber Fusion. The group released a self-titled debut album in 1977. “There were lucky coincidences, but it’s also about being able to take advantage of those lucky breaks,” Lorber says. “We were touring, selling records. It was a good time in the music biz. We were signed to Arista records and they had good budgets to make records and promote B artists.”

“Then one day Clive Davis [Arista founder and president] decided he wasn’t into jazz anymore. He got rid of his jazz division almost overnight. The few who were left, he wanted them to do R&B vocal stuff,” says Lorber. “That was a mistake. We were on a trajectory to having a solid fan base and touring a lot of pretty big venues. When we radically changed what we were doing, we lost fans.”

Lorber briefly launched a solo career with a release in 1982, but took a break from solo recording and composing, opting instead to work with other artists. There were a few hits on Arista, “Step by Step” (1985) with Audrey Wheeler and Anita Pointer. He moved to Warner Bros. and had another hit with “Facts of Love,” with Karyn White. He recalls working with the R&B duo René Moore and Angela Winbush. “I loved the music we made, the records, and what I learned working with them.” He says, though, “Most of the time vocal overpowers instruments.” He resumed his solo career in 1991 with Worth Waiting For.

Lorber says union scale was important. “Most guys would get double scale for gigs—and having that standard in place created a level playing field where everybody knew the value of a musician’s time. You didn’t have to negotiate each time.” When he lived in Portland, early in his career, Lorber says, “We used to do Musicians Performance Trust Fund gigs. Here in LA, a lot of people do jam sessions and rehearse at the union hall.” Lorber says he’s a supporter of any organization that looks after musicians. “[Otherwise] we’re out here on our own.”

For a number of years, Lorber has battled Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), a congenital disease, which has affected many members of his family. A kidney donated by his wife 11 years ago saved his life. “When you face a life and death situation, you know what’s important. I try to spend my time doing things I love doing, which is playing music and composing,” says Lorber, who says about 600,000 people in the US and two million worldwide are afflicted with PKD.

The proceeds from Lorber’s record of bebop standards, Jazz Funk Soul (Everett Harp and the late Chuck Loeb), go to PKD research. Lorber says, “I love the straight-ahead jazz. You can hear bebop phrasing in the solos.”

Lorber’s most recent album, Prototype (2017), was nominated for a Grammy. “I’m just grateful I’ve had a chance to make a career doing music. I love living in LA and working with the great talents here on a regular basis,” he says. At present, he’s doing some composing and planning an upcoming tour of Southeast Asia.