Tag Archives: organizing

theatre musicians

Spring into Action: Preserving Musicians’ Work Through Audience Education

by Tony D’Amico, President of the Theatre Musicians Association and Member of Locals 9-535 (Boston, MA) and 198-457 (Providence, RI)

Greetings from the Theatre Musicians Association (TMA) world headquarters in north central Massachusetts, where the robins have returned, the flowers are blooming, and a faint light can be seen at the end of the pandemic tunnel. The feeling in the air today is quite different from the last time I wrote in these pages, back in the bleakness of November. Effective vaccines have been developed, approved, and are getting into arms at an impressive rate. In the music business, after a dark year of virtually no in-person performances, tentative plans are being announced for the long-awaited return to live music. I am feeling cautiously optimistic when I speak to my colleagues across the Federation.

You are well aware that Broadway and all national musical theater tours abruptly closed down in mid-March of last year. Pamphlet B, the international agreement that covers all AFM sanctioned tours, expired around the same time, March 15, 2020. With no musical productions lighting up Broadway theaters or coming to a town near you, the Broadway League informed us they had no interest in sitting down at the bargaining table to negotiate a successor agreement.

While disappointing, the extra time has allowed TMA, along with Touring, Theatre, Booking Division Director Tino Gagliardi, to come up with the reopening safety protocols that were presented to you in a previous issue of the International Musician. The extra time also allowed us to survey our membership and delve into the issues that we would like to see addressed in the next set of negotiations. AFM President Ray Hair has assembled a terrific negotiating team, and I look forward to sitting down with them soon to improve this contract.

One of the issues that TMA members repeatedly mentioned in our survey was concern over the ever-shrinking size of pit orchestras, and how the use of increasingly sophisticated technology is advancing this trend. We have seen the replacement of musicians by electronic devices for decades.

Pit orchestras are at an inherent disadvantage because they are, for the most part, hidden below stage level or, with ever-growing frequency, in a remote room. The audience doesn’t see that a 25-piece Broadway orchestra has been reduced to a 10-piece band on a traveling tour, thanks to the assistance of computers and virtual orchestras.

There is a new technology on the electronic musician replacement scene that is raising alarm bells within TMA and AFM leadership. It’s called KeyComp, and it is possible you have never heard of it. However, as it may very well change the way musicians are hired and employed in the future, it’s important for theater and non-theater musicians alike to become familiar with this device.

Recently, orchestra numbers were reduced by the use of keyboard “patches.” These sampled sounds allow flexibility of tempo due to being performed live by a keyboardist, but left a lot to be desired in terms of quality. Enter KeyComp­—a machine developed by a German software developer named Christoph Buskies, who has worked at Apple Computer since 2000. Using technology developed by Buskies and recorded input of real acoustic instruments played by musicians, parts are broken down into individual beats, which in turn allow the KeyComp operator to make changes in tempo without altering pitch. The result is a flexible performance, using sounds that are remarkably close to the real acoustic instrument because they are recordings of real acoustic instruments. An entire musical score can be loaded onto KeyComp, and played by a few keyboardists. This is troubling, to say the least.

What can be done? Ever since the 1927 introduction of talkie movies began putting accompaniment pianists out of work, we have tried to stem the march of technology, with varying degrees of success. It is through educating the public that we will be able to prevent the pit musician from going the way of the dodo.

A symphony patron would never allow for a Mahler symphony to be played at Boston Symphony Hall with 20 players and a bunch of machines. That’s ridiculous! We need the theatergoers to stand up and demand the same. We need to continue our message of “Live music is best.” Patrons must realize that they are not getting their money’s worth when they go to an expensive show to hear a score played by anything less than a full orchestra.

I recall doing a run of White Christmas a number of years ago, and the score called for a large orchestra—complete with the luxury of a string section! Overhearing audience comments after the show, I was struck by the one thing that came up over and over again: that orchestra sounded great. Perhaps they didn’t know it, but it was because they were hearing the music the way it was meant to be. That is, performed live, by some of the greatest musicians in the world. It’s a message we can all be passionate about.

Crises Show Why We Organize


by Michael Manley, AFM Organizing and Education Division Director

Times of crisis are a stark reminder of why our union matters, and the ever-changing impact of COVID-19 on our lives brings challenges none of us expected. Alone we beg for what we need, but together we achieve it.

Here are some examples of how our collective power can make a difference for musicians:

  • Strong contracts mean services cannot be arbitrarily canceled with no pay, or benefits cut. A union agreement means we have a say in what happens, even in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Because we’ve fought for—and secured—employee status in many workplaces, unemployment benefits are available to many musicians.
  • Freelance musicians throughout the US and Canada have been achieving better working conditions by joining together in Fair Trade Music chapters.
  • Several AFM locals are building relief funds to aid freelance musicians whose gigs are being canceled.
  • Musicians in the symphony/opera/ballet fields are being paid for virtual performances and streamed concerts, through the strong media agreements we have bargained.
  • AFM members are joining our other union brothers and sisters in advocating for aid to all workers affected by COVID-19.
  • Having strong contracts in media work means that many musicians are being paid for the airing of reruns and can count on residual checks arriving on schedule.

Take Action

Below is a list of current AFM advocacy efforts related to COVID-19. Take action now to ensure all musicians get what they need as we weather this
unique crisis:


Petrillo Memorial Fund

Save Live Arts in Canada initiative

Please consult your local union’s website for available local resources.


The Care and Feeding of Solidarity

by Jane Owen, AFM Symphonic Services Division Negotiator

What does unity look like for an orchestra? To our public, we appear unified in our formal attire performing with unity of thought and action. As any musician who has attended an orchestra meeting can tell you, however, that unity is always a work in progress.

In its makeup, the orchestra is already divided into the groups of strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion, as well as distinctions of those who are section musicians and those who hold principal or assistant/associate positions. In some orchestras, there are different tiers of contracts for members of the bargaining unit. Additionally, there are musicians of different age groups, gender, religion, and family configurations, and they all may bring different issues to the table. The challenge sometimes is to agree that we are in one union, and to find the collective path of bargaining to achieve the best outcome for the group as a whole.

This is a task which falls necessarily to the orchestra committee with the help of other union representatives in the group. We are reminded of the need for unity every time we are involved in a negotiation, especially in a difficult negotiation, but nurturing that unity is sometimes set aside in those years between negotiations. We’ve all been there; you want to take a break after a long negotiation, but this is not the time for a break. This is the time to get to work to maximize your power for the next negotiation. The more management sees the orchestra musicians communicating and working together, the more strength those musicians have at the bargaining table.

In the words of my colleague, AFM Negotiator/Organizer/Educator Todd Jelen, “We in SSD encourage orchestras and their committees to work with a negotiator during the last year of your contract to help with negotiation preparation, but internal organization with the musicians needs to be happening from day one of a new contract to ensure that the next negotiation can be as successful as possible.” Jelen observes that in addition to the basics of administering the CBA during the term, the following organizational tasks need to be done prior to the next negotiations:

• Discuss and evaluate objectives not achieved in the last negotiations.

• Organize new musicians through
orientations and discussion of
current/recurring issues.

• Track past and new issues in the workplace.

• Track importance of issues to musicians.

• Discuss and evaluate past
goals/strategic plan for musicians.

• Assert or re-assert goals/strategic plan of the musicians.

At the beginning of every season, all musicians must know who their orchestra committee representatives are and how to communicate with them. Identifying the union steward and members of other committees or liaisons to the management or board of directors is also important. This is especially true for new members, who may have only met management personnel in their introduction to the orchestra. Be sure your new colleagues know whom to go to with questions or problems, and that they know their Weingarten rights to have union representation in any meeting with management that could lead to discipline.

Communication with and connection to the local is critical as well. Some managements will try to divide the musicians from their local by requesting that the musicians negotiate without a union presence. While orchestra committee members act as agents of the local in the workplace, the agreement is between your local and management and they are the signatories. Therefore, involvement of the local is mandatory and crucial to the process. Be sure all musicians know who their local officers are and how to communicate with them. Encourage musicians to attend meetings of the local. Many orchestras have members who run for local leadership positions as officers or as board members. Unity of purpose is invaluable when bargaining.

Organizing requires two components: identifying key issues to the population and talking with our colleagues directly. This is much easier to do in our workplaces than in some others if we plan ahead. To encourage unity between negotiations, it is important to take reports back to the musicians after any important committee meeting with management, or after any resolutions of problems or grievances that occur.

Encourage musicians to come to the committee with concerns or questions. Maintaining regular communication makes it more likely that participation in surveys will be more complete when negotiations come around. As for those surveys before negotiations, try to ensure that all the musicians are heard. To achieve more complete participation for the pre-negotiation survey, some orchestras offer individual interviews by orchestra committee members with musicians to complete their surveys. Ongoing communication with other orchestras across the AFM through ICSOM, OCSM/OMOSC, and ROPA also promotes unity across the industry.

In order to approach a negotiation with focus, keep good records of goals not yet accomplished, document administrative challenges with the current agreement, and know the priorities of the musicians as seasons progress. Your power lies in that knowledge and the collective support for those goals.


Symphonic Organizing, Solidarity and Inclusion

Rochelle Skolnick

by Rochelle Skolnick, AFM Symphonic Services Division Director

Welcome to the symphonic focus issue of the International Musician for 2019! This issue shines a spotlight on the musicians of the Boise Philharmonic—our newest AFM orchestra—and the successful organizing drive that will give them a meaningful voice and a new level of professionalism in their workplace. The musicians of the Newfoundland Symphony, motivated by similar concerns, have also joined together with the AFM and, as Richard Sandals (associate director, SSD Canada) reports, will be working under their first-ever true collective agreement during the 2019-2020 season. What happened in Boise and Newfoundland is inspirational. It is also emblematic of the AFM’s renewed commitment to organizing and demonstrates our capacity to support musicians who choose to stand together in pursuit of greater dignity in their workplaces.

One of the great challenges we face as unionists in the symphonic sector is developing and maintaining solidarity within our orchestras. Solidarity—or unity of purpose based on shared needs and interests—doesn’t just materialize, and it doesn’t spontaneously regenerate itself. Rather, it must be mindfully cultivated through one-on-one interactions and nurtured with liberal doses of empathy. There is no shortcut to solidarity. We can’t make common cause with our colleagues when we don’t know their concerns and they don’t know ours. In the absence of genuine knowledge about the people with whom we share the stage, we may be reduced to relying on unhelpful stereotypes or assumptions that not only fail to support solidarity, but actively undermine it.

Each orchestra has a unique sound and culture of musicianship that is the product of decades of work together. I am vividly reminded of that every time I hear an orchestra perform: The Philadelphia Orchestra does not sound like the New York Philharmonic, which does not sound like the Chicago Symphony, which does not sound like the LA Philharmonic … and on and on …

When a musician is hired into an orchestra, we expect s/he will honor that musical culture by fitting in and playing in a way that carries on those venerable musical traditions. But as orchestras become more diverse, it is important to consider whether embedded within our institutional cultures are obstacles to full participation in the extra-musical life of the collective by musicians whose backgrounds may be quite different from those of their colleagues. And it is even more important to consider the multitude of qualities these diverse musicians bring to our institutions and how their engagement can strengthen and invigorate the collective.

I am sometimes asked why the union is involved in the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion. After all, shouldn’t our focus be on bargaining and enforcing our CBAs with employers and not on the composition of our bargaining units or how well musicians get along with each other? That view misunderstands collective action and the mechanisms by which we attain success in bargaining and contract enforcement. As others write so well in this issue, success in bargaining depends entirely on solidarity and organization, which depends, in turn, on communication, understanding, and shared purpose among all members of a bargaining unit. If we aren’t engaging some, the strength of the entire collective suffers.

A well-organized orchestra is one in which every musician has a voice and knows s/he is a valued member of the collective. Many orchestras fall short of this arguably utopian vision. I would venture to guess that in every one of our orchestras there are individuals or groups of musicians who do not participate in committee work, do not attend meetings, and, in states where the law allows it, are not even members of the AFM. If we are to build solidarity, we must ask ourselves—and them—why these musicians have chosen not to get involved.

Where this lack of participation occurs along the fault lines of race, gender, national origin, or some other clearly identifiable characteristic of the non-participating musician, the question takes on a special urgency. It is facile to dismiss lack of participation as an expression of a given individual’s “culture,” and doing so places the onus entirely on the “other” musician to assimilate. True solidarity requires us to dig deeper and locate the common ground that undoubtedly exists among musicians, regardless of cultural differences.

As musicians, we know how to listen to each other with keen attention in rehearsal and performance. These are skills we have honed through ear training, ensemble playing, and years of practice. When we bring a similar focus to our conversations with colleagues, we set the stage to advance both inclusion and solidarity.

Update on OCSM’s 44th Annual Conference

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

Pour voir cet article en français, cliquez ici.

It’s that time of year again: as I write this, I’m looking ahead to all the conferences I will attend on behalf of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM), and this year is a busy one. In addition to our own conference, which will be held from August 12-16 in Hamilton, ON (more information on our social media pages and at www.ocsm-omosc.org), I, or one of our executive board members, attend each of the other symphonic player conferences, the Theatre Musicians’ Association conference, the annual national meeting of Orchestras Canada, the AFM Canadian Conference, and this year, the AFM Convention, which will have already taken place by the time you read this. In the past, we have also participated in every International Orchestra Conference convened by the International Federation of Musicians (FIM). This summer will mark 20 years since I attended my first OCSM Conference and, since then, I have been privileged to be part of a truly worldwide network of musicians.

As I’ve reported many times on these pages, each of these conferences gives us an overview of our part of the industry: reports from delegates, union officers, and staff; pension fund; and other industry partners. We are fortunate to have experts in every part of our field address us: labour lawyers, communications professionals, and even government representatives. We try to work in as much of a local angle with our host city as possible. Hamilton happens to be the birthplace of music/performing arts medicine in Canada, with the establishment of the Musicians’ Clinics of Canada there in 1985, so we are inviting Dr. John Chong, its founder, to address us. We will also be making a field visit to LIVELab on the McMaster University campus, a facility devoted to “developing a world class facility for the scientific study of music, sound, and movement and their importance in human development and human health.” (https://livelab.mcmaster.ca).

I know I write this almost every time I’m given the opportunity, but there is a good reason why we’re called “player conferences”: because everything we do is driven by players—our membership of working orchestral musicians. That includes your successes as well as your challenges. If you’ve had a particularly good outreach program, or a successful fundraising campaign that made good use of musicians, we want to hear about it through your delegate. If something in your collective agreement went totally wrong, we want to help you rectify it. We exist so that no orchestra, no committee, and no individual musician need be in complete isolation. We are all part of a greater community and, to that extent, we are all activists in our own way.

As always, I look forward to meeting more activists throughout these summer months, and I hope in the middle of that you can all find some well-deserved time to rest.

2019 Symphonic Player Conference Schedule

ROPA Conference
July 28-30 • Boston, MA

The ROPA 2019 Annual Conference will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, Sunday, July 28 – Tuesday, July 30, with Negotiating Orchestras Workshop on Saturday, July 27, starting in the morning. This year’s ROPA officer elections will be for vice president, secretary, and four members-at-large. All ROPA delegates are expected to file a report on his or her orchestra’s situation or activities over the past year. All ROPA delegates are expected to attend the ROPA Conference. For more information, visit the ROPA website (ropaweb.org).

TMA Conference
July 29-30 • Boston, MA

The Theatre Musicians Association will hold its 24th annual conference July 29 and 30 at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts. The annual conference will again focus on discussions and presentations that are of interest to the theatre musician. It is an excellent opportunity for pit musicians from all over the country to meet face-to-face, share ideas, and discuss issues that affect TMA membership. Please go to afm-tma.org for more information.

OCSM/OMOSC Conference
August 12-16 • Hamilton, ON

The 44th Annual Conference of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) will be held from August 12-16, at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel. The first day will be for OCSM delegates, officers, and designated A/CFM personnel only; the full open sessions will begin at 9 a.m., August 13. For more information, visit the OCSM website (ocsm-omosc.org).

ICSOM Conference
August 21-24 • Park City, UT

Musicians of the Utah Symphony and Local 104, will host the 2019 ICSOM Conference at the Park City Marriott in Park City, Utah. During the four days of the conference—August  21-24—delegates will hear about and discuss success stories within member orchestras, revisit some major negotiations of the past season, be updated about the new Integrated Media Agreement and AFM-EPF, receive financial literacy and internal organizing pointers, and further explore diversity in member orchestra institutions. Delegates should attend all four days to assure their participation in all aspects of the conference, including general business, reports, and resolutions that are dealt with at every conference. All ICSOM members are invited to attend and must register for the conference on the ICSOM website (www.icsom.org).

streaming agreements

Musicians Organize to Create Fair Streaming Agreements

by Marc Sazer, President Recording Musicians Association and Member of Locals 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and 802 (New York City)

Even as our national government is mired in anti-labor policies and politics, the entertainment industry has experienced pioneering organizing over the past few years. Actors, writers, even video game workers, are organizing, acting, and gaining improvements. For musicians, our need to participate in the new streaming economy is an existential imperative. The last few years have seen our union negotiate key improvements from major media companies, especially in regards to our US pension fund, Music Performance Trust Fund, and Sound Recording Special Payments Fund.

But the rapid move across all media to streaming platforms threatens to leave musicians behind. This would be devastating, not just to those of us who work directly in recording studios, but for all of us. Our funds and our place in pattern bargaining would be damaged irrevocably, if we can’t achieve fair compensation in streaming media. But perhaps the greatest harm would befall the next generation, and the next after them—aspirations dashed, a decent future denied.

We all have a stake in this, not just the house band players on the late night shows and the performers on The Voice and Dancing with the Stars. This includes musicians who prepare and perform the music on films, television, and streaming shows, from little indie and student projects to Star Wars, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and The Orville; the players on records that are licensed into these media; as well as sideline musicians all over North America who bring these projects to life.

And we can do it! Take a look at some recent news headlines, as people working all across the entertainment industry seek real-life improvements through organizing.

As Video Games Make Billions, the Workers Behind Them Say It’s Time to Unionize”

Organizers with Game Workers Unite, a group that has sprung up in the last year to push for wall-to-wall unionization in the $43-billion game industry, kicked off each session with an icebreaker: “Damn the man.” (Sam Dean, April 12, 2019 LATimes)

“Telemundo Actors Vote Overwhelmingly to Join SAG-AFTRA”
Actors at the Spanish-language TV network Telemundo have overwhelmingly voted to unionize with SAG-AFTRA, bringing to a close a protracted dispute between Hollywood’s largest union and NBCUniversal, which owns the network. (David Ng, March 8, 2017 LATimes)

“SBS’s La Ley Staffers Vote to Join SAG-AFTRA”

The on-air talent at Spanish Broadcasting System’s Chicago radio station La Ley 107.9 (WLEY-FM) voted overwhelmingly to recognize SAG-AFTRA as their union.
(Veronica Villafañe, October 1, 2018, Mediamoves.com)

“Aaron Sorkin and David Chase Among the Writers Who Support WGA in Fight with Agents”

Ratcheting up the pressure in its fight with Hollywood talent agencies, the Writers Guild of America has released a statement of support from hundreds of its members who are saying that they intend to vote in favor this week of a new code of conduct that would limit agency practices, including the packaging of productions. (David Ng, March 25, 2019, LATimes)

“Actors’ Equity Reaches Development Deal with Broadway Producers; Strike Over”

Actors’ Equity Association and Broadway producers have reached what Equity is calling a “historic” agreement on a profit-sharing contract model for union members participating in early stage production development. The new lab agreement includes profit sharing, higher wages, and additional stage manager contracts, according to Equity. (Greg Evans, February 8, 2019, Deadline.com)

“Musicians Seek Streaming Residuals as Contract Talks Launch with Studios”

The AFM held a press conference Wednesday prior to the start of negotiations at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Musicians are working under the terms of an extended contract that was signed in 2015 as a three-year deal. The AMPTP had no comment.

The AFM noted that SAG-AFTRA, the Writers Guild of America, and the Directors Guild of America have been able to negotiate residuals for films made for streaming, but musicians have been excluded. The union noted that musicians currently receive residual payments for secondary-market uses of theatrical and TV films, but not for films made for the Internet.

“As streaming consumption grows, the absence of streaming residuals will prevent musicians from being able to afford a home and feed their families, and threatens to erode the major contributions our members make to our local communities,” said Ray Hair, AFM International President.

“AFM members must take on the changes in technology by ensuring that we maintain good jobs and a rightful place in the future of the industry,” he added. “We are seeking a productive dialogue with AMPTP as we work to reach a fair resolution of these negotiations.”

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in a letter, “Working people in the entertainment industry must face the changes in our business together. For generations, we have fought for quality jobs and won. Now, as the industry moves toward new media, we believe it is time to stand together again. Our members recognize the tremendous value that musicians bring to our films and television shows, and we support their demand for a fair contract for streaming.” (Dave McNary, March 13, 2019, Variety)


TMA and Building Solidarity

paul castillo

by Paul Castillo, Director Executive Board Theatre Musicians Association, President SoCal Chapter TMA, and Member of Locals 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and 353 (Long Beach, CA)

I want to begin by thanking Theatre Musicians Association (TMA) President Tony D’Amico for the opportunity to write this column. Solidarity is at the heart of the TMA. A primary goal is to strengthen relationships with the Federation and the AFM locals. Current issues include ever-diminishing pit orchestras and musician/actors on the musical theatre stage. The TMA is building solidarity to fix those problems and other issues.

Part of solidarity involves supporting others in one way or another. This year TMA Vice President Heather Boehm, TMA President Emeritus Tom Mendel, and other TMA members attended rallies and spoke in support of the Chicago Symphony Musicians who, at the time of this writing, are on strike over fair wages and benefits. In March, at the invitation of my AFM local, I attended the first session of the Motion Picture and TV negotiations as an AFM member and a representative of TMA. In February, I attended the AFM Western Conference on behalf of TMA.

Members working together with AFM locals and officers is critical to solidarity. In a recent conversation with a local officer it was mentioned that, prior to a local negotiation for a musical theatre agreement, an email survey was sent to AFM members who had worked under the local agreement. Some of them were members of other locals and there were few responses. A survey is a union’s way of asking for help with negotiations so that the union can ensure members get what they want in an agreement. It builds union solidarity. Without it, the union has little choice but to bargain the level of exploitation the employer will be allowed to commit upon the musicians, instead of bargaining for what musicians want. Connecting with the union is vital to successful employment.

The concept of solidarity and employment is certainly not new, and much has been written and said about it. In contemporary terms, solidarity is a major part of a support system for musical employment of all kinds. The TMA is an integral part of the AFM and musical theatre employment for musicians. The TMA, along with the AFM, are a fundamental support system for musicians employed in musical theatre. Simply put, solidarity = support system + unity = successful employment!

As the TMA continues to build solidarity, we will look for principles to incorporate in our efforts. Here are several to consider:

There is always one more thing you can do to influence the matter in your favor. Few things are more frustrating than being told “can’t do” when asking for help or information. The emphasis needs to be on what can be done. It’s not always easy to come up with “can do” items. Sometimes it’s necessary to get ideas from others, such as a support group. Then, and this is the most important part, we go and do that one thing. After that, there is always one more thing to be done.

Empty your bowl so that it may be filled. Things accumulate over time, often to the point where they are not only useless, but may be harmful. We must ask, “What are we doing that we should not be doing?” and hack away the unessential. This makes way for new things that yield better results.

Use ecological solutions. For any solution we must ask two questions: 1) Will this cause harm to ourselves? and 2) Will this cause harm to any other musicians? If the answer to both is “No,” the solution is ecological and consistent with solidarity. If the answer to either question is “Yes,” then the solution needs to be modified. If it becomes necessary to ask someone to make a sacrifice so that we may benefit, we must first ask ourselves what sacrifice we will make so that they may benefit—and make that sacrifice.

Meredith Snow

ICSOM Orchestras Remain Key Community Partners

Meredith Snow

by Meredith Snow, ICSOM Chair and Member of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA)

An orchestra is not just a group of people playing music together. It is a dynamic, vibrant metaphor for our communities. The music we collaborate to create is a two-way street between us and our audiences. Our performances would serve little purpose without a direct connection to the people we hope to draw together in a common experience. This experience is not merely entertainment but is a celebration of our humanity. This connection demands our attention and participation as much as our daily practice.

In early January, during their ongoing struggle to resolve negotiations and avoid drastic cuts to their season and wages, Baltimore Symphony Musicians, members of Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD), presented an all-brass benefit concert at the Baltimore Basilica. Musicians from some of the nearby ICSOM orchestras—National Symphony Orchestra, members of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC); Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, members of Local 60-471(Pittsburgh, PA); The Philadelphia Orchestra, members of Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA); and New York Philharmonic, members of Local 802 (New York City), in addition to the Semper Fi Brass—volunteered their time and talent.

Not only did they raise $12,000 to benefit My Sister’s Place Women’s Center, but the beyond-capacity attendance at the concert demonstrated that it is not just about a labor dispute. It is about the future of the City of Baltimore—musicians and citizens alike pulling together to envision a greater future, not just for the orchestra, but for the city as a whole. Since the concert, a bill has been introduced in the Maryland State legislature to increase public funding for the Baltimore Symphony. The citizens of Baltimore have mobilized in support of their musicians and we hope for a successful outcome to their struggle.

Following the horrific hate crime at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 worshipers were gunned down, the Pittsburgh Symphony responded immediately by mounting a concert to foster unity and solidarity with the Jewish community. (A Concert for Peace and Unity at PBS.org). Everyone volunteered their services: Music Director Manfred Honeck, Local 802 (New York City) member Itzhak Perlman, the staff and musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the stagehands from IATSE Local 3. The concert benefited the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Fund for Victims of Terror and the First Responders Fund.

In the March issue of Senza Sordino, bass clarinetist Jack Howell wrote, “Every community that is visited by the specter of hate and violence must find a way to shape itself around the ugly fact. That a symphony orchestra would have a part to play in that shaping is an important statement for our art.”

ICSOM will continue to promote the relationships between our orchestras and their public.  Last summer’s ICSOM Conference highlighted four such programs. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Pistons’ Music Education and Diversity program offers music education to every 4th grade student in Detroit. The Utah Symphony’s Haiti Residency is an ongoing music education program. Grand Rapids Symphony Music for Health Initiative, in partnership with Spectrum Health Music Therapy, brings the healing power of music to the community. The Louisville Orchestra’s performance of The Greatest: Muhammad Ali, composed by Music Director Teddy Abrams, is a tribute to the extraordinary life of that legendary athlete, humanitarian, and Louisville native.

The interconnection of our orchestras and their communities goes to the very heart of our purpose. The most precious and fundamental principle of our music making is to unite hearts and minds in order to inspire an understanding of our common humanity. We must foster these relationships, not just for our success as orchestras, but as citizens of the communities in which we live.

The 2019 ICSOM Conference will be held this summer at the Park City Marriott in Park City, Utah, August 21–24. Any AFM member or member of an ICSOM orchestra is welcome to attend. All attendees must register for the conference in advance with ICSOM Secretary Laura Ross. Information on registration is available at ICSOM.org.

OCSM Prepares for Upcoming Conference

by Robert Fraser, OCSM President and Melissa Goodchild, OCSM Secretary, both Members of Local 247 (Victoria, BC)

Pour voir cet article en français, cliquez ici.

The Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) will hold its annual conference at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel in Hamilton, Ontario, August 12-16. As always, members of OCSM orchestras and representatives of their respective AFM locals are welcome to attend the open sessions, which begin the morning of August 13.

The agenda of the conference is still being worked out, but we are happy to announce that part of the conference will involve a visit to the LIVELab, a facility on the campus of McMaster University, located within the McMaster University Institute of Music and the Mind (MIMM).

According to the MIMM website: “… the LIVELab is a 106-seat research-based performance theatre and testing centre. The LIVELab is committed to developing a world class facility for the scientific study of music, sound, and movement and their importance in human development and human health.”

We will be sharing more information on the conference as it develops, both on our OCSM website (ocsm-omosc.org) and through our social media. We look forward to seeing all our delegates and guests in August.